Do your branding and website feel like a personal invitation to your ideal customer, client, or reader? Do they open it with all the anticipation of a hand-written note from someone they connect with deeply?
Or do they feel more like they’ve received a “Dear Resident” postcard advertisement, destined for the recycle bin before they even read the second line?
If you’re struggling with what to write, what to post on social media, and what images to use, or if you just don’t seem to be reaching the people you’re trying to serve, you may have missed the crucial first step in establishing your brand’s “voice.” The good news is, it’s not too late!
Why “Who” Matters
It’s easy to skip over defining your audience. You’re working on a logo that is a reflection of your excellent taste and personal preference. Your website has all of your favorite colors and fonts and features. You’re writing articles or making products that anyone would love!
And I totally get it. Defining your audience can be hard work. But all of those lovely things you’re working on are for you. They’re building that “Dear Resident” or “To Whom it May Concern” offer. How can they build a personal connection if you don’t even know who you’re writing to (or creating for)?
Investing just a bit of time right now will help you reach your audience more effectively with every single interaction. And it doesn’t have to be hard. It might even be fun!
Clearing the Path
The most common obstacle I’ve seen when working with my clients is that most people want to be inclusive, and this process feels too confining. After all, you’re amazing! Everyone should want what you have to offer.
But you can’t focus on everyone and still make them feel unique and special. You just can’t have both.
Now, here’s the great news! Focusing on one client doesn’t exclude everyone else. Instead, your focus helps you communicate more clearly, and even people who don’t fit your audience perfectly feel the connection with the parts of the brand that speak to them personally You can see this illustrated in some of the steps below.
A Few Easy Steps
First: Find Common Traits
What are some things that your target audience has in common? This could be demographics such as gender, age, or location. It could also be something obvious – such as “owns a pet dog” for a dog walking service, or “parent” for a daycare center.
It can be helpful to list things that would exclude someone from your audience. For example, the ideal customer for our dog walking service would not be a person who has a lot of leisure time and walks their dog twice each day for health reasons. Knowing who isn’t your audience can help you narrow down who is!
Here are a few examples to get you started:
- Ownership (pets, home, auto)
- Health | Diet | Fitness
- Religion or politics
- Social media and internet habits
- Financial situation
Second: Define the Problem
Step one is a great foundation in defining your audience, but step two is where the magic happens. It means no more wondering what to share on social media. Ideas for articles that will resonate with your audience will come more easily. And you’ll find it easier to attract and keep the people who need what you have to offer.
What problems do you solve for your audience? What makes you different from your competitors, and why is that important for them? What common problems provide opportunities to connect using humor?
To expand on our dog-walking example, problems could include being away from home during the day, a busy schedule, and needing someone trustworthy and reliable to care for a beloved pet.
Consider some of the following as you’re making your own list:
- Need for social interaction
- Need for quiet time
- Limited resources
- Environmental concerns
- Health Concerns
- Need to learn new skills
- Need for ideas
- Financial concerns
- Special occasions
- Finding balance
Third: Fit the Pieces Together
Once you know your target audience’s attributes and problems, put them together into a description that will keep you focused effectively. It will help you make branding and design choices that are especially effective for your ideal client or customer. And decisions about what to post, create, and share will be so much simpler.
Let’s finish with our dog-walking example! The description may be something like:
A is a busy business executive who adores her two small dogs. She enjoys taking them to dog parks and on long walks on the weekends, and wishes she wasn’t quite so busy during the week days. It’s important to her that the dogs are well cared for each day, and she is willing to pay a premium for services she can trust. She sometimes struggles to find a healthy work/life balance, and when she is able to fit in a vacation, wants pet-friendly options.
Using Your New Profile
Knowing your ideal client will help you choose branding that conveys both professionalism that will appeal to this high-end customer, and warmth that conveys the care pets will receive. It will also be easier to avoid designs that give a wrong impression about your business, or attract the wrong kind of customer (someone looking for low-budget options, for example).
Social media posts could include information about pet-friendly parks in the area, special events, and other pet services such as grooming and boarding. Instagram photos featuring happy pets on their walks will highlight the personal care each dog receives. Articles about pet-friendly vacation ideas and tips from local vets will ensure that your content is meeting your client’s needs.
Aside from the more obvious opportunities to build partnerships and increase the value of your posts, you can also think creatively and include other high-end services that would appeal to your target audience, such as cleaning services, and gourmet meal options (for both pet and owner).
Once you’ve developed the description of your ideal customer and client, refer to it often as you write, design, and post online. Some find it helpful to include even more details, and even a profile picture to help them envision the person they’re posting to.
The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is what their needs are and how you are uniquely able to meet those needs. As you build your own brand identity, and start using your online presence to add value for your clients and customers, you’ll find that you can refine that target audience description, or expand it as your customer base evolves.
You’ll find that as you focus on that ideal client, you are able to connect and create relationships of trust that make you stand out among your competitors. You’ll come to know them so well that topics for posts and articles will come naturally. The relationship and trust you’ve built through social media and online interactions will show your support in a way that’s personal in a sea of “Dear Resident” services.