Who wants what your business has to offer?

If you’re a business owner, you know the answer to this question. In fact, you’ve probably spent a lot of time answering this question! It’s one of a few crucial elements you need to understand at the highest possible level before constructing an effective marketing plan.

But, just because you went through the process of discovering your target client persona, doesn’t mean you nailed it the first time. It’s important to revisit this topic frequently to make sure your goals and your marketing objectives are on track to bring the right customers to you. There are some easy-to-make mistakes in this process that we want to help you avoid.

Here are the 5 biggest mistakes you should avoid when discovering your target audience:

  1. Thinking too broad.
    When I start asking business owners about their target demographic, I will often get initial answers like, “I don’t know, any age really” or “They come from any kind of background,” or “I work with people from all income brackets.” On the one hand, they’re not wrong – most businesses are absolutely capable of servicing any type of customer. Moreover, they want to service any and all customers possible! After all, more customers means more profit, right?

    It’s important to remember that defining your target persona doesn’t automatically exclude all others from finding or working with you. Instead, it will simply allow you to better market your products, services and overall brand toward the people who most want or need what you have to offer. Keeping that in mind, revisit those demographic questions and think about the people you already work with and what categories they tend to fall into. That will give you a better starting point toward narrowing down your persona.

  2. Thinking too narrow.
    You’ll run into problems on the other side of this spectrum, as well. While it’s important to be very specific when considering your target persona, you don’t want to be so specific that you forget about an entire section of your population! You may even find that you have two distinct audiences that are both of equal value.

    For example, if you’re a flooring company, you may sell to two different types of people: families looking to renovate their homes, and contractors who are renovating other people’s homes. Those two customers will come from different backgrounds and have entirely different motives to consider. On the one hand, your homeowner clients may be primarily female, from middle to upper income areas who value quality products and customer service over all else. On the other hand, the contractors you work with may be overwhelmingly male and have a stronger focus on the price of the products they use as they try to uphold their clients’ budgets. In this case, your marketing efforts should focus on the needs and values of both to make sure each persona finds value in what you have to offer.

  3. Applying this knowledge too narrowly.
    Understanding your target persona should allow you to effectively market to them in any and every way you market your business. You should be using various inbound and outbound marketing tactics to promote the work your business does. Re-evaluate every one of these tactics each time you revisit your target persona to make sure all of your marketing efforts are working together to bring you the right kind of business.

    For example, your content marketing strategy should speak to your intended audience through your blog content, social media posts and website content. But that same voice should come through in any print advertisements you run, or radio spots you produce. That way, your audience hears the same congruent and powerful message no matter where they find your business.

  4. Mistaking the product user for the product buyer.
    Sometimes the person using your product is not the person you need to sell your products to. In cases like this, it’s even more important than ever to know who you’re actually targeting. For example, let’s examine the target customer of a tutoring clinic. When thinking about who that business works with everyday, the business owner might describe the teenagers from the local high school that actually walk through the door, interact with the tutors and benefit from the services. But, were the high schoolers the ones actually searching online for a tutor, or opening their wallets to pay for each session?

    In this case, the parents of those high school students were most likely the ones doing the research, having the initial sales conversation and eventually making the purchase. Understanding this relationship will help you narrow down your target persona and make sure you’re marketing toward the decision-maker at every turn.

  5. Not adapting to new information.
    One of the biggest mistakes to avoid when determining your target audience is not adapting when new evidence suggests you may have missed the mark. Whether your demographic changed due to evolutions in your industry, or you simply didn’t get it right the first time, you need to be open to change.

Website analytics is just one tool you can use in this case. Analytics can help you determine who’s finding your website, where they’re coming from and what they’re doing once they get there. Does your website see a high percentage of mobile visitors? Maybe the people who are searching for what you do are younger than you originally assessed. Are people spending a long average time on your site, and visiting a high number of pages? This might indicate that your potential and future customers do significant research before purchasing. Using this, plus other market research strategies, will help you make adjustments to your marketing campaign as necessary.

Take another hard look at your target persona, and ensure that the right people are finding you today.

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