Learn how to hone in on your target audience to ensure your idea succeeds.
Are you thinking of taking the plunge and starting your own business? Maybe you’ve been mulling over an idea for years but taking the first step is harder than you thought?
Well you’re not alone.
Research shows that 64% of the UK workforce wants to set up a business with 1 in 3 wanting flexible working and to be able to work from home. In fact The Telegraph estimates there are 660,000 new startups registered in the UK every year, but sadly, 60% of these don’t make it past year 3.
So before you channel your inner Bridget Jones and resign with a flourish, let’s take some time to consider what you should be thinking about if you want to start your own business.
Set Yourself Up For Success
The first thing I ask every single business I ever work with are these questions, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re a multinational corporation or selling homemade bath bombs on Etsy — be prepared to hone in on your audience with laser focus.
Who is your ideal customer?
Where do they go for information?
Why would they buy from you?
So, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to be everything to everyone. Because of course you want to sell as much as possible and you want mass appeal. But this is a mistake. You don’t appeal to everyone. And that’s okay! Let’s take a couple of examples from the same sector, Sweaty Betty and GymShark.
When you think of Sweaty Betty what words come to mind? For me, it’s excellent quality, strong women, stylish and timeless. They are high quality, and not a budget option. They understand that their audience have high disposable income, are strong, independent women who prioritise fitness, wellbeing and want to look good doing it. Do you think this brand would appeal to your 19 year old niece? Probably not, let’s face it. But if we take Gymshark it’s a totally different story. 30 seconds on their Instagram page and I feel old and fat. They are all about young, sexy and hardcore gym enthusiasts! Would this appeal to a 40 year old mum with three kids. Probably not.
Now both these businesses sell leggings. Both have strong online and digital presence. Both are wildly successful, yet they couldn’t be more different.
Build Your Personas
So spend a LONG time thinking about your audience. What adjective do you want them to think about you? What language and style would appeal to them? In marketing we call these Buyer Personas — fun, semi-fictional mock ups of your ideal customer, they are a great way to hone in on your target audience before you invest time or money in building your business.
And depending on what you sell, you might find it helpful to generate a negative buyer persona, now this might sound a bit well, negative, but it’s important to be realistic. If you sell a low margin item, a serial returner is not a good customer for you. If you’re looking for long term loyal customers for a yoga class, maybe a nomadic student who house hops isn’t what will build your community. I’m not saying you banish these customers but if a particular marketing tactic is generating a lot of interest from this group, it’s not working for you. If you want to build your own personas here’s the type of questions to ask yourself:
Demographic > is your audience male, female, both? What’s their age? Income? Where are they located?
Background > what is their career or work? What about family life?
Interests and personality > what’s important to them? What do they love? What other brands do they like?
Invest Your Time Wisely
Now, we know a bit about who would like our products or services, what next? Let’s think about where these personas go for information? What do they read? Where do they hang out? With so many channels to think about, it can be an overwhelming task to set up, and hugely labour intensive. Firstly, let me define what I mean by channels, I’m trying to keep my marketing speak at a minimum, goodness knows we love some jargon, so let me put it plainly. Channels are the different places you talk about your product. For example, social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube are some of the most popular. Or it might be offline media channels such as putting up flyers in Planet Organic, or flyers through people’s door. In the digital age, print isn’t dead at all. It could be a great way for people to discover your brand. Just be sure to think about how you’ll measure success. (This is another blog in itself!)
It can be very easy to get trapped in a cycle of investing your time in the things you think you should be doing without questioning whether this is truly impactful. If you’re a local running club based in Muswell Hill, what good are 5,000 Instagram followers based in Australia? Yes, you get a bit of thrill when you see those numbers climb, but I’m going to keep coming back to this like a broken record… Are these viable customers? Don’t get caught up in vanity metrics and neglect what really matters — the people who buy from you time and time again. Your question should be, how can I get more of them and build my business? Instead of, how can I grow my Instagram by 1,000?
I hope this has given you some food for thought. I work with a number of businesses big and small, and time and time again I find myself coming back to this question, who is our customer and what is important to them? Whatever your business idea, this HAS TO BE your starting point.
Next time I'll be talking about those channels again, as well as my favourite free tools to set you up for success.
Let us know in the comments below what you think!
Marketing Director & Business Owner