Congratulations! By completing the Audience Alignment Scorecard you’ve taken an important step towards creating an audience-focused business that you can enjoy working in for years to come.
The Scorecard evaluates three keys to a successful audience-focused business:
Key #1: Understanding your ideal audience
If you scored less than 23 points on this section of the Scorecard, you have a whole new perspective on your business awaiting you by better understanding the customers who will love you and your business.
There are two steps to understanding your ideal audience:
Step 1: Deciding it’s important to focus your efforts on a specific audience target
Focusing on a target audience is often very hard for small business owners to understand, and to do. It’s easy to think that by positioning your business to sell to ANYONE, and marketing with a large net, is going to glean you more customers. In fact, the opposite is true. By trying to appeal to everyone, your message and marketing will miss being truly relevant and engaging to anyone.
Step 2: Gaining insight about that target that will be truly helpful in determining how to find them, how to engage them and how to convert them into customers
There’s no point in focusing on aspects of your target audience that won’t help you reach them. Often, we focus on demographics like age, gender, income, company size or industry, because those characteristics are easy to identify and fall into nice clean buckets. But knowing someone’s age or gender doesn’t help you connect with them — it doesn’t tell you what their challenges are, why or where they’re looking for help. You wouldn’t send an email that opens with, “Hello, female 35-49 years old.” But when you market using demographics, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
Read more about why it’s so important to understand your ideal audience, or check out our posts on that topic.
Key #2: Finding, attracting and engaging with the right prospects
Once you know your ideal target audiences, you need a strategy to find them where they’re looking for help. This can be tricky because the solutions they’re seeking might not include anything like yours. We all have assumptions about what would solve our problems, but our lack of expertise or awareness can lead us in the wrong direction.
To effectively engage with your ideal prospects, you need to:
Step 1: Understand what they think would solve their problem (even if they’re wrong)
You can’t rely on randomly stumbling across an ideal prospect if your business is going to grow. You need to know where these prospects are likely to be — and the key to that is understanding how they view the issue they’re trying to solve, and their assumptions about what would solve it. And you can’t assume that they know enough to understand that your solution is something they should consider.
Step 2: Understand the solutions they’ve tried, and why they haven’t worked
Your ability to connect with prospects depends on being able to show empathy for their challenges. Understanding their frustration with other potential solutions is a key element. If you can’t grasp why other attempted solutions have failed them, you can’t hope to show them why your solution is different and how it is more likely to help them.
Step 3: Understand the fears, assumptions and questions your ideal prospects will have about your solution, and have answers ready
All potential buyers, of any product or service, will have questions and concerns. If you don’t anticipate these questions and aren’t prepared to answer them, your prospects will pass you by. Having answers, and making those answers easy for them to find, will help convert your customers before they even contact you.
Step 4: Be able to clearly and succinctly tell an ideal prospect how your solution will help them
Stumbling through an explanation of what you do and how it can help them is a sure way to lose an ideal prospect. For many business owners, this lack of a succinct description of what they do is rooted in a lack of clarity on their part. A focused audience strategy makes it much easier to identify a good prospect and quickly deliver a compelling message about how you can help.
Key #3: Steering your business to doing only your most satisfying work with the customers you truly want to serve.
Effectively building a business you love includes:
Step 1: Understanding the characteristics of the customers and work you don’t want
Just as important as understanding your ideal prospects is being able to identify the ones who will want work you don’t do well, features you don’t offer or pricing you can’t afford. Prospects like these are guaranteed to make your life miserable with demands you can’t (or don’t want to) fulfill, and waste your precious time.
Step 2: Getting comfortable with saying “no” to prospects and work you don’t want
Even when you know you’re talking to a prospect that isn’t a good fit for your business, it can be difficult to say no. Developing a response you’re comfortable delivering makes rejecting the wrong prospects clear, concise and relatively painless without being offensive or insulting to someone who might be happy to refer someone they know.
Step 3: Using your content and your messaging to actively discourage the wrong prospects and encourage the right ones
Small business owners are swamped. You don’t have time to waste qualifying prospects who turn out to be a poor fit for your business. Once you understand the characteristics of prospects you want and those you don’t, you can use content on your website and elsewhere to send signals to the wrong prospects that your business isn’t right for them — and send them on their way before they even contact you.
Step 4: Using your understanding of your ideal prospects to drive an active and productive stream of referrals
For many businesses, referrals are their #1 source of new business. But even your most supportive friends can’t refer potential customers and work you want if they don’t understand the characteristics of your ideal prospects. Sharing what you’re looking for can unleash a powerful and profitable source of great customers. And eventually the only prospects you’ll get are the ones you really want.
Read more about steering your business towards doing only the work you love, and read our posts on the topic.
Audience Axis was developed specifically to help small business owners build healthy, strong businesses serving the customers they want with the work they love to do.
If you want to survey your customers or prospects about the problems they’re trying to solve, and where they’ve looked for help, our Audience Discovery Toolkit offers a step-by-step guide and example survey to help you develop your own research program.
Our online course, Find Your Audience Axis, takes you through the process of determining your target audiences and developing an audience-focused strategy based on the problems YOU want to solve and the customers YOU want to serve.