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Are you ever unsure which direction you want to go? You have multiple options for getting to where you want to go and any one of them is just as good as the other, in fact, they are all so good, you have a hard time deciding? Yeah, that’s been me this last week while thinking about how to proceed with this new website.
There are a lot of directions I could go:
Quite honestly, the choices are mind-boggling and since I feel strongly that this is the very first thing you should do when you start a business, I thought I'd better sit down and make some decisions. So, this morning, I decided that I’d better sit down and define my target audience and buyer persona (sometimes called an “avatar”) so that I would instinctively know my next steps.
So, first, I want to define the term Target Audience. A target audience is a specific group of people that share characteristics and would most likely be interested in a product or group of products. Demographic information is most often used to define this audience. Those demographics could include:
Defining this audience is important because there is no way you will ever reach “everyone”. By narrowing your focus to those who are most likely to buy your product, you have a much easier job talking to those people. Creating content, ads, products, and any other messages that your customer will see becomes a much easier job. By speaking only to your target audience, you save time and money.
Now, what is a Buyer Persona and how is it different than a Target Market? A buyer persona, or as I and others sometimes call it, an avatar, is a fictional character that is part of your target audience. This fictional character becomes the person you speak to when you write, create audio/video, ads, etc.
When creating this character, your objective is to know everything about that person. You want to know what kind of job they have, what role they play in that job, their likes, dislikes, what kind of house they live in, the car they drive, their struggles, their frustrations, fears, I’m sure you get the picture. But really, it’s make-believe, this is a fictional character that you get to make-up. Heck, I even gave mine a name!
If you already have customers, it’s best to create this character from your customer list. It should be the average of those who have already shown you that they are likely to buy. This person should be your raving fan. However, if your business is new, you get to make the decision for who you want that person to be.
A lot of people who are new to business think defining your audience and buyer persona is just gibberish. They think they’ll just put their products out in the world and whoever buys them is their audience. You don’t want to turn away customers, right?
However, it’s really very difficult to decide what to write about, or how to structure ad copy when you’re trying to talk to everyone, not to mention, it can be very expensive to advertise to “everyone”. And how do you create rapport that leads to the “know, like, trust” phase of your customer relationship if you’re not talking specifically to your customer?
All companies will have sales from people who are not in their target audience, it’s not like you’re going to lose customers because you’re excluding those who don’t look like your avatar. But it’s critical to talk and advertise to the people who are most likely to buy, and only to those people, or you will be so general that no one will buy from you. Knowing who you are talking to helps you create a messaging strategy that appeals directly to the type of people who are more likely buy from you.
When I sat down this morning to do this work, I first pulled up notes I made when I started planning the site. Over time I’ve added information to the list whenever I read something I thought important. I remember doing a lot of this work when I was called for jury duty and had to sit in the assembly room waiting to be put on a jury. I took my iPad that day and was so glad I did. I ended up sitting all day, till about 3:00 until we were all dismissed. I got a lot of work done that day with no distractions!
So today I read through my notes and I was amazed. The work I had already done identified just about everything I needed for my target audience and buyer persona. Sometimes I just amaze myself! LOL! The work was really good. Have you ever gone back and read something you wrote after a period of time and been surprised how good it was? Well, this was one of those times!
While I’m not going to share the specifics of my company’s buyer persona, I will share the things I identified about her (yes, she’s a woman) and I recommend you dive in and do the same:
When identifying these things, I got hyper-specific. For example, one of her frustrations is:
Spending hours searching online for ideas for an online business to only get confused by all the choices and the amount of tech needed to go forward.
And one of her biggest pain points is (my avatar is 50+):
Fear of not having enough money after leaving (or being forced to leave) a job she’s been at for 15 years.
Specificity is key. Make up a scenario that your customer is living and play it out when doing this work. I promise it will help you when you start crafting your blog posts, ads, and products that you want to sell.
Lastly, I needed to put down on paper the reason I’m credible to be teaching this information. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but my customer will want to know before spending her hard-earned money with me. Plus, I can use that information on sales pages, my “About” page, and in so many other places, so, I needed to get clear on it.
Spend some time putting your knowledge, achievements, and history into words so your future customers will know why they should trust you to teach them. Be specific, to the point (don’t drone on, it gets boring), and relevant to the information. And for heaven’s sake, please do not allow yourself to sound pompous about your achievements, people will hit the back button fast.
Okay, here’s the narrative I started with:
I’ve been studying internet marketing for 20 years. My husband and I owned a business during the ’90s and early 2000s and when we needed a website I taught myself how to build it. During that time, I opened a niche online-only wholesale business. The concept was quite novel in 1999 but it grew to be quite successful. I attribute that growth to learning everything I could about internet marketing, list building, email marketing, and e-commerce.
Because the world of business, internet marketing, and especially, online business, absolutely fascinates me, I’ve continued to learn, grow and keep my skills current. I still take courses and read daily about all the things that made that first business successful. It’s my passion and I don’t want to get left in the dust as technology and business methods change.
With exception of the time when we owned our own business, I’ve worked in the corporate world my entire life. Witnessing it first hand, I know all too well what happens when an employee’s salary grows to the point where the company thinks they are paying too much for the talent. Sadly, quite often, the older worker is let go and replaced with a younger, much less expensive worker. At the end of 2017, this happened to my husband. Money always wins.
Today my husband and I run a successful Amazon e-commerce business, that I started, and he joined after he was let go from his corporate job. Additionally, we run a niche e-commerce website on the Shopify platform and may start another one soon.
I started this website, OnlineToThrive.com, to help and teach others the skills needed to start their own online business. I recognize that there are a lot of people (just like me) who want more than to just work for others their entire life. They want to pursue their passions and contribute, not just push paper while making someone else rich. And there are many who might want to give an online business a try. Those wonderful people are my customers.
Now, here’s how I made it punchier:
I can use all this, both the narrative and the punchy bullets forever. Even though it will evolve over time and probably get better and better, it’s great stuff. Take the time sit down and figure out what you want to tell your future customers about yourself. It will make selling your product a much easier task.
I’ve covered a lot of ground in this post and I think it’s time to bring it to a close. I've done all the work for this website and reminded myself of the decisions I've made. Now my job going forward it much easier, in fact, this post came out of my work this morning.
The last point I want to make, and I know I'm reiterating but it's just so important. Before you start thinking that it’s ridiculous to identify just one person to talk to, do some research about choosing your target audience and buyer persona. I think you’ll find that all marketing agencies do this for their big clients as well as small clients. It helps your company find its voice and speak directly to those who are most willing to buy your products. I plan to offer a course in the future on just this information and how to choose your audience and avatar. It’ll be on choosing your niche and defining your audience, look for that some time in future.
Hope you enjoyed the info!
I’m a fifty-something, self-taught, online business geek from Texas and owner of Online To Thrive. A lot goes into creating an online business and it can be a really scary endeavor. I’m here to help make getting started easy and affordable with step-by-step courses that are clear, straightforward, and uncomplicated.
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