“Know your audience.”
Open any book or blog post on content marketing strategy, and that advice is going to be somewhere near the top. There’s plenty of advice out there on understanding your target audience or customer so that you can market to them well.
The trouble is, almost all of this advice is about knowing your customer better. But what if you’re just starting out and you haven’t even started gathering leads, let alone making sales? What if you haven’t even published any content yet?
How are you supposed to know your customer if you don’t have any? How do you find your target audience when your blog or business is brand new?
Take heart. While a lot of the advice out there about getting to know your audience can be intimidating, a lot of it is geared toward large companies and isn’t really relevant to small businesses or solopreneurs. But it’s not rocket science.
With imagination, experience and some creative sleuthing, you can craft audience profiles that will help you plan and create targeted content that attracts the right customers to your business. Here are seven methods to help brand new businesses identify their target audience.
1. Imagine Your Ideal Customer
Who is your dream client? Who do you most want to work with? What type of person would benefit most from your product or get the most out of the content you want to produce?
You can use some imagination here to create a profile of exactly the type of person you want to work with or sell to, but you may also have a real-life representative in mind. If so, you can follow that person on social media to learn more about them. You may even be able to warm up to them enough to start conversations that can help you discover relevant details that can inform your marketing efforts. Just, y’know, don’t be creepy or weird about it.
Is your dream client a Fortune 500 company? Then you’ll want to figure out who the point of contact would be and get to know more about people who hold that role. But starting out with your ideal audience in mind will help you tailor your marketing message and your content to the kind of people who will be a joy for you to work with. This is especially important if you have a service-oriented business that will have you working one-on-one with your clients.
2. Base it on Someone You Know
Maybe you had a specific person in mind when you developed your product, wrote your book or decided on the service you want to provide. Or maybe you’re an affiliate marketer and you have a friend or family member who is extremely into the topic you’ll be blogging about. Maybe that person is you. In any case, if you already know someone who would happily devour your content or plunk down their hard-earned money to buy what you’re selling, then you’ve got a template on which to base your target audience.
3. Base it on a Past Version of You
If your business is built around solving a problem that you yourself once faced, then that past version of you may be your ideal audience. Say you’re a fitness coach or a nutrition coach who used to struggle with weight loss, but you finally unlocked the secret to getting and staying healthy. You know exactly what you needed to hear and feel in order to get to a place where you were ready to take action. That’s the core message you can plan your content around.
4. Talk to People Struggling With Problems You Can Address
Or, conversely, engaged in activities that your content, service or product can make more enjoyable or improve their performance. If you don’t know anyone in real life, try hanging out in Facebook Groups, Reddit threads or online forums relevant to your type of business. For example, if you’re starting out as an ADHD coach, the ADHD subReddit is a goldmine of the challenges faced by people who have ADHD. That’s your target audience. Tailor your content to them.
5. Read Reviews of Related Books or Products
Trying to launch a personal coaching business? Read reviews of self-help and personal development books to learn specific problems called out by reviewers that you can address in your content. Or read business book reviews if you’re a business coach. Or read time management and productivity book reviews if you’re launching a SaaS website that helps in those areas. Reviews can be a valuable source of insight into discovering who your target audience is and how you can serve them.
6. Consider Your Target Demographics – but Make Sure They’re Relevant
You’ve probably reat at some point that you need to craft your buyer persona down to the micro level, knowing everything about them including how many kids they have, what kind of coffee they drink and how many rooms are in their home. These things might be relevant if you’re giving parenting advice, launching a subscription coffee service or a new line of cleaning products. But they’re not relevant to every type of business.
The age group of your client may not matter at all, or it may be super important. If you’re selling a nutrition plan to help perimenopausal women, or women struggling with infertility, age matters a lot. It might also make a huge difference whether your target client is a Boomer, a GenXer, a Millennial or GenZ, which will impact your messaging, your delivery and the tone of your marketing content.
Target demographics can be important, when they’re relevant. But don’t get hung up on trying to determine minutiae about your audience that doesn’t really make a difference.
7. Consider the Psychographics of Your Audience
Psychographics focus on your target’s AIOs – which stands for Activities, Interests and Opinions. In other words, psychographic data is information about what your audience is into, how they spend their time, what they think about, and what they think about those things.
This information can be useful in determining things like where your audience hangs out online and the sort of content they like to consume, which can help you choose your content channels and delivery method.
But again, how do you get this information if you don’t already have an audience? Again, Facebook groups, Reddit threads, comment threads on blogs, Twitter threads and online forums can be immensely helpful in gaining these insights into your hypothetical customer.
Using these methods, you can build an audience profile and buyer personas that will let you start creating content that pulls in relevant traffic and creates brand awareness with the right audience. You might not be directly over the bull’s eye, but you’ll still be on target.
And as that traffic converts to leads and sales, you’ll be able to engage in other methods, like customer surveys and interviews, that will let you tweak your content strategy and get it closer to the mark.