The first question I ask when someone wants to start a marketing project with me is “do you know your target market”? It is one of the vital aspects to consider when you found a startup because it allows you to create the product accordingly. However, from my experience, some founders do not have a very clear idea about it.
This is why I’m sharing my tips on how to find your target audience.
1. Know the problem you are solving
First of all, think at the problem your product is solving. Does it address a specific group of people? Or is it something more generic that could apply to many categories?
In both cases, in the beginning you have to create an as specific and segmented audience as possible. Focus on just 1 or maximum 2 groups. You will tailor your product and communication to them.
The trick is to always start from small and then scale.
2. Segment your target market
How to segment your market? Make it simple.
If you’re a B2C start from location and demographics such as age and gender. Then also look into some other information such as interests, buying habits and income.
If you’re a B2B, you will want to know what is the type and size of business you are targeting, who is the person you are going to talk to, what is their role and experience.
I think it’s really important to have a very clear idea of that.
3. Get data with surveys
Now that you know which groups you are going to focus on, try to get data about them. What do they like? What is their consumer behaviour? Would they be interested in your product? How can you best approach them?
This is the time for you to create a survey. I would recommend to start with the easiest resource you have: your own network. If your friends are in the target market, send it to them on social media. Reach out to all the people you know and that can be relevant for you. Don’t be afraid to ask to put you in touch with the ones they know. If you are a B2B, send it to your email list of relevant people in the industry.
It might not be the most professional way, but it can always give you an insight on what people need and in a very simple way. You might be very surprised and completely change some aspects of your business.
You can also send out the survey via email if you have a database or do it through LinkedIn. Just look for people in the industry and contact them. This might even help you find new potential customers. In any case, trying does not hurt!
4. Use data from existing products
Are you offering something that is similar or correlated to an already existing product or service? Lucky, you: investigate this market and use its data! It is very likely that their clients will be yours as well.
You can start with a very basic and easy market research: go around and observe people’s behaviour with products that are related to yours. For instance, let’s say you are creating a line of natural organic cosmetics. Go to health shops and spend a lot of time there. Observe the customers, who they are, their behaviours and preferences. Also, look at how they buy, how many items etc. Are they mostly male or females? How old are they? Do they seem to be coming from a specific ethnic group? There is a lot you can find out just by being there, paying attention and taking careful notes.
Once you have those data, apply them to your own business strategy.
5. Find out where they “hang out”
Your market analysis does not only apply for physical places, like in the above example. Since we live in a digital world, to know more about your target you should also find out where they “hang out” virtually. Visit the forums, websites, join the social media communities and groups. Again, observe the people, who are they? How do they behave? Are there specific influencers they follow? Is your target actually there? Or is there another “place” you can look into?
This is very useful information as it will also help you to tailor your message to the communication channel, once you are ready to promote your product.
In general, don’t base anything on assumptions but test as much as possible. And this will also lead us to the next point.
6. Release your MVP and test
Currently, one of the most successful business strategies for startups is the Lean Startup Model. It comes from Eric Ries’ best seller “The Lean Startup”.
The idea is to create a Minimum Viable Product or MVP as soon as possible, in order to test it with real users. This will allow you to get information on what the market needs and wants, from which you will adapt your product. There is no need for you to wait to have something perfect, just get out the roughest idea of your product.
You might realize that some features are not perceived as useful as you thought or, vice-versa, your testers might make you aware of something you didn’t consider and that would be a deal breaker for them. You might even find out that the target you individuated is not as effective as another one.
With all these insights, you will be able to further develop your product according to the market and make sure it is something they want. If you had spent most of your resources to come out with a “perfect” product with all the features, it would be a real pain if you needed to pivot.
These are my tips on how to know your target audience. How did you do with yours? Please leave a comment below, would love to hear from you.