Why You’re Targeting the Wrong Audience and How to Fix it
By Nathalia Copeland
Does this sound familiar?
“I launched a campaign with a valuable offer, beautiful graphics, and a great website. But it totally failed! Zero engagement and sales. What am I doing wrong?”
Chances are you’re having a major disconnect between your message and the target audience receiving it.
Assumptions. We know our business really well, so we assume to know our ideal customer too.
Turns out, our assumptions about our customers are usually wrong. Don’t trust your gut on this one. Your entire business depends on it.
Do you decide what you want to sell first and then try to find that magical audience that will buy it?
The people who see your message think:
Your ads are ignored. Money’s wasted. And you’re left wondering why your message fell flat.
Instead, know who your audience is first and then ask yourself:
What kind of message would convince this person to buy my product, read my content or hire me for my services?
Worry not. If you’re doing it wrong, here’s everything you need to know to fix it.
Problem, Meet Solution – The Buyer Persona Tool
A Buyer Persona is:
a dynamic creation, based on a real person, backed by data, and represents the buying behavior of someone in your target audience.
Whoa. That’s intense.
Let’s break it down.
It’s dynamic because people change. And so will your business. You’ll need to revisit this tool a few times a year.
You’ll need to pick a real person that would love your product or service. Don’t invent ‘Fitness Freddie’ or ‘Soccer Mom Suzy’ out of your imagination in 10 minutes, do some research.
Then, you take that persona and use it to craft an engaging message that will grab their attention.
What makes it an engaging message? It solves a problem for them.
I know, I know, sounds like so.much.work. But, I promise it’ll be worth it, if you do it right.
So, why do you need this?
Why You Need Buyer Personas
Your goal is to invest your time, money, and effort into the people who matter the most.
Every customer or sale is not created equal. Here’s some economics 101 to consider:
The Pareto Principle is an 80/20 rule that’s great for understanding how business works. In the case of buyer personas, it means:
These are your brand ambassadors, your repeat buyers, the ones who’ll recommend you to others.
It should be your number one priority to know this 20% segment like the back of your hand.
They can tell you everything you need to know about attracting more customers who’ll love your business.
Let’s Grab A Drink [Mini Case Study]
Ok, not literally but here’s a fun case study to consider.
In 2009, an app called Burbn (yes, like the whiskey) was launched, trying to compete with the app, foursquare. It had way more features but was struggling to take off.
No one was really using the check-in feature it was built for. When the owner used customer analytics to see who was using the app and what they were using it for, they found their niche.
Based on that research, they decided to pivot in a new direction. They rebranded as a photo sharing app, added some more filters and Boom! Instagram was born.
You have to know who your customers are and listen to what they want.
Burbn thought people wanted a more advanced version of Foursquare. Turns out they just wanted to post pictures with funky filters.
Don’t assume you know what your customers want without data. You could be letting the next Instagram slip through your fingers.
How to Build Your Buyer Personas
First, you collect demographics such as age, gender, job title, education, etc.
Then, you dive into psychographics.
Psychographics are the motivations, personality, attitudes, and basically, everything that makes a person tick.
It’s useful to know that your average customer is a 32-year-old, unmarried yoga instructor who likes dogs. But, to engage with them, you’ll need to focus on a pain point or problem they have and how you can solve it.
While demographics and geographic location are important for targeting, they only begin to scratch the surface of a useful persona.
Need a complete guide of questions you can ask to know your audience better? Steal my swipe file below.
Careful now. Asking 100 questions about someone’s life in one sitting is a sure-fire way to creep them out or bore them to death. The goal is to pick a few questions that focus on your offer.
Find The Research You Need
If you already have an audience, here are a few ways you can get the info you need:
- Got a website? Setup and use Google analytics
- Facebook Audience Insights is a great FREE tool.
- Have an Instagram or Facebook with fans? Ask your fans what their number one challenge is right now.
- What about an email list? Send them a short message asking for feedback on your product before you spend hours creating it.
Remember, focus on psychographics.
When diving into an important motivation, ask the person “why?” at least three times.
People aren’t always great at reflecting on the reasons behind their behavior so this will help you uncover real insights.
For example, you might ask someone “why do you want a fitness coach?”
Their answer: to lose weight.
Why do you want to lose weight?
Their answer: to be healthier.
Why do you want to be healthier?
Their answer: to have more energy to play with my kids.
So, a message that says:
“Weekly Fitness Coaching: Lose Weight & Have More Energy To Play With Your Kids” will be far more effective than: “Weekly Fitness Coaching – lose weight now”.
People are generally open to sharing their pain points and challenges if you make it brief and easy for them to respond.
If you’re just starting out and don’t have an audience to ask, don’t worry!
Look at your competition to see the type of people engaging with their offers.
The “Find Your Audience” section of the iSpeakSocial Insider Toolkit has several ways you can ethically spy on your competitors.
Ask for feedback on forums like subreddits, Quora and Facebook groups. Go through negative reviews on Amazon to see where the gaps are in customer satisfaction.
Bonus! Your buyer persona research will also help validate that your offer is valuable.
Next, use one of these free tools to build the persona:
- Hubspot Buyer Persona Creator
My Favorite was Xtensio, easy to use and customizable. Here’s an example of a buyer persona for iSpeakSocial:
Notice how little I focused on the demographics? Demographics are important but the focus here is on how my product will create an immediate solution for my customer.
Finally, apply the buyer persona to your business.
Take Action! Using Buyer Personas
Here’s where most people stumble. Don’t spend time researching your buyers only to close the document and never look at it again.
Buyer personas should help you make business decisions, guide your writing and engage your audience.
Here are 3 ways you can start using your buyer personas today:
- Find Out Where Your Audience Hangs Out
Now that you know your audience, you can identify which social network you should be using to speak to them.
Check out this Infographic for a breakdown of which demographics use the top 7 social networks.
Your most valuable audience could be on Pinterest or Linkedin, not Facebook or Youtube. The social network your audience prefers will determine if you should be making videos, writing blog posts, or recording a podcast.
- Speak Their Language
I’m not just talking native tongue here (although delivering ads in Spanish to a Brazilian audience would be confusing!).
You’ve gotten feedback from real people on what they need from you. Use it!
Write ad copy that mirrors their specific challenges and quickly show how your offer will solve it.
Relate to your audience on a personal level. Avoid using complex jargon and terminology.
Be authentic though! Remember when Microsoft tried to appeal to young people by using the word “Bae”? Yea, don’t do that.
3) Engage Them Along The Buyer Journey
This is where you can create some highly targeted content that will resonate with your audience.
The purchase process is a journey and the five stages of that journey are:
Awareness, Information Search, Evaluating Alternatives, Making The Purchase, & Post-Purchase.
After addressing what challenges your buyer is having, you should craft a message for each stage of the buyer journey.
In the awareness stage, you’d be coming on way too strong with an ad screaming “BUY MY PRODUCT!!”.
Instead, your goal here is to make them aware of who you are and how their life would be better with your solution.
In the information search stage, share valuable information, for free. This will inspire trust and build a relationship so they want to hear from you again.
Show why your product is better than your competitor’s to people evaluating alternatives.
During the purchase stage, offer bonuses and testimonials or include a deadline clock to promote urgency.
Even in the post-purchase stage, you can offer an upsell product and provide world class support to make them a lifetime customer.
The Dark Side: Negative Personas
Don’t be that generic brand shouting at everyone with no one listening. These are companies who are afraid to alienate anyone and therefore, appeal to no one.
Identify who you don’t want as customers.
These are the trolls, the serial refund requesters, the ones who’ll never buy anything or recommend you to anyone.
Recognize who they are as early as possible and avoid selling to them. The return on investment for these types of customers will never be enough to justify the time, money, and stress they cause.
What Not To Do
Don’t build too many personas. There isn’t a magic number, it all depends on how many ways you want to break down your audience.
Don’t create 10 buyer personas right now if you only have the resources to develop content for 1 or 2.
Don’t aim for complete 1:1 customization. You shouldn’t be trying to build one ad per person.
And finally, don’t ask every question I covered in this swipe file.
Select enough questions to help you understand your buyer’s challenges.
Remember, tools such as these should serve you and your business, not the other way around.
Know Your Audience
Bottom Line: Know your audience. Do your research before you create any content, run any ads or sell anything. If you do it right, you’re guaranteed to attract an audience that will engage with your message and ultimately, buy your offer.
Comment below and share your experience with targeting your customers online. How can buyer personas help you improve?