It sounds like a “big company” concern, doesn’t it? Worrying about a target audience?
We small business owners have small business concerns —and finding an “ideal audience” is just so far down the list.
In the meantime, it’s so easy just to set up our business and work for whoever walks in the door.
I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. Most of us still do.
Avoiding this question of “ideal audience” makes everything easier.
It allows us to avoid the hard work of marketing.
It means we don’t have to do anything but talk about ourselves, and what we do, and why we do it.
It allows us to build websites that look like everybody else’s.
To say, “I sell this. It comes in these flavors, these sizes, these colors, these costs.”
To say, “Door’s open. Come in and buy.”
To sit. To wait. To hope.
But ask anybody who runs their business like this, and they’ll tell you the same thing.
They’ll tell you customers don’t come — or don’t come often enough.
They’ll tell you referrals are few and seem to be for the wrong kind of projects or the wrong kind of customers.
They’ll tell you they struggle with finding good prospects, and what to say to them when they do.
They’ll tell you they have trouble differentiating themselves from bigger and more well-known competitors.
They’ll tell you being a small business owner just isn’t as fun as they’d hoped it would be.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
You can change so much about your business — and how you FEEL about working in your business — with one small change.
Give a damn about your ideal audience.
Don’t believe me?
Reason 1: Understanding your ideal audience tells you what they really want.
Ever tried to pitch your product or service to someone and seen only a blank stare in return?
Nobody buys anything without a reason. Not companies, and not individuals. Even the smallest purchases — an ice cream cone, or a stamp — solve a problem. You can’t hope to entice new buyers without having something they’ll view as a likely benefit to them — a solution to a problem they’re having. And without knowing what problems they’re struggling with, and what kinds of solutions they’re looking for, hitting the bullseye with your products or services is going to be a crapshoot.
If, on the other hand, you understand a problem your audience has, you can identify the products or services you can offer that will help them. You won’t be able to solve all of their problems, of course – but you don’t have to. You just need to find one problem they’re having — one that hurts — and offer help in as many ways as you can.
If you know their problem, then it becomes surprisingly clear what you can offer that will interest them. And this understanding can set you visibly apart from even your biggest competitors.
Reason 2: Understanding your ideal audience tells you where to find them.
Ever feel like you’re putting your message out there, but nobody’s hearing it?
Even if you have something mind-blowingly awesome — a perfect solution unlike any other on the face of the earth — you won’t sell anything if prospects don’t know about it.
If your signs are in the wrong place, nobody sees them. If you’re speaking to an empty room, your message goes unheard.
Understanding the problem your audience is having is a critical element in making sure you’re putting your solution where they will find it. It tells you where they’re already looking for help — Online? Self-help books? Conferences? Competitors? Your best shot at making a case for your products or services is by intercepting them where they’re already ripe to hear about a solution.
This is particularly valuable for small businesses who struggle with limited budgets and limited time to get it all done. Understanding your audience helps you focus on the right places to put your message.
Reason 3: Understanding your ideal audience tells you what to say to them.
Ever sat in front of a blank screen, needing to write a blog post but without an idea in your head? Or answering the “What do you do?” question with a stumbling, mumbling collection of jargon-filled drivel?
People have short attention spans — especially when they’re not hearing anything relevant to them. They decide within the first few seconds of listening to your pitch or looking at your website whether they’re interested, or not.
A few seconds. That’s how long you’ve got.
The best way to make them pay attention? Show them you understand the problem they’re having. And immediately tell them how you can fix it.
Do it with a website that shows you get them, and that you can help. Do it with content they find relevant, helpful and engaging. Do it with a clear, short and sweet summary of how your business exists to serve people just like them. And watch what happens.
Reason 4: Understanding your ideal audience tells you how to overcome their objections.
Ever wondered why a prospect didn’t buy? Ever been surprised by the reason they gave, and tried to change their mind after they’ve made they decision not to hire you?
If you understand your audience, you can anticipate the things that will trip them up — cost, timing, or anything else — and offer an explanation, a reassurance or an alternative that will keep an unanswered concern from becoming the thing that derails the sale.
Reason 5: Understanding your ideal audience keeps you from wasting time with the wrong prospects.
Ever spent time with a prospect who clearly needs help from someone who isn’t you?
For most small business owners, time is their #1 challenge. We don’t have a moment to waste on the wrong prospects. But if your business is basically a door with an “OPEN” sign, you’re going to get folks walking in who shouldn’t be there. People who don’t really want what you sell, and folks you don’t really want to work with.
Understanding the ideal audience for your business means that you can develop content designed to shepherd the right prospects into your funnel, and encourage the wrong prospects to go somewhere else — even before you need to spend those precious minutes on the phone with them.
Reason 6: Understanding your ideal audience helps you generate more and better referrals.
Ever received a referral that made you wonder if the person who sent a particular prospect your way is enjoying a joke at your expense?
We all have friends who want to help us succeed. Unfortunately, well-meaning people often send us the wrong kind of prospects, or the wrong kind of work — or both. They don’t do it intentionally — they do it because we haven’t made clear to them who we want to work with, and what we want to do. So they send us prospects based on their (often limited) understanding, and we end up wasting time either gently turning prospects away, or moving forward with work we don’t want to do for people we don’t want to serve.
Having clarity about the audience you’re targeting allows you to share that clarity with the people in your life who would love to help you succeed. It ensures that every referred prospect is a great match for you and your business.
Reason 7: Understanding your ideal audience helps you avoid spending time and money on the wrong marketing.
Ever feel like your marketing plan is a random shot in the dark?
Today’s world is full of marketing options — over 3,500 by one count. Even if we weren’t also trying to run our businesses, making sense of the sheer number of possibilities would be completely overwhelming.
Of course, the only marketing vehicles we need to worry about are the ones that will intercept our ideal audiences when they’re searching for solutions to their particular problem. Which ones are those? That’s the critical question.
Understanding our ideal audience — what problem they’re trying to solve, what they’ve tried in the past, why they haven’t found a solution already, and the obstacles in the way — gives us insight into the right marketing tools to use. Which means we can avoid wasting time — and money — on the wrong ones.
Taking the time to understand your audience MATTERS.
Understand the problems they’re trying to solve.
Understand what they’ve tried that hasn’t worked.
Understand why you are the perfect solution for them.
Understand where to find them, and what to say when you do.
Understand where to spend your precious time, and your precious money — and where not to.