To make the most of your website investment it is important to know exactly who you are building your website for. Your website target market is important. In this part of our Ultimate Website Planning Guide we are looking defining your website target audience.
There are a few steps we need to consider when defining our target audience. By looking in depth and breaking the task into these parts it will be easier to create a target audience avatar. In this part of the guide we are going to look at the following items.
- Looking at your existing customers
- Checking out your competitions target market
- Analysing your products and services
- Choosing specific demographics of your target market
- Consider the psychographics of your target market
- Evaluating your target market decisions
By the end of this part of the guide you will have created a target audience avatar and be much clearer on who you plan to target with your new website. Now it's time to deep dive into the sections listed above.
Looking at your existing customers.
This section is about answering a few questions about your existing customers and exploring what opportunities may be present there. During this section I want you to look only at your existing client base and on a piece of paper answer the following questions.
- Who are your current customers? who are your current customers and what aspects, characteristics and information is common amongst them. (Think about this in depth, as this will help you to focus your target market strategy)
- Why do your existing customers buy from your business? why do they buy from you is it the convenience of location, a specific product or service you offer that others don't.
- Which customers bring in the most business? list the top 5 or so customers who bring in the most business. What makes these top customers purchase more and what do they have in common. It is highly likely that these top customers are already in your target market and others who fit their persona could benefit from your services and products.
Now that you have answered these 3 questions create a short summary of the key things you discovered in completing this exercise.
Checking out your competitions target market.
In 99.9% of modern business you will have competitors who are targeting your customers. In this section we are going to look at your current competitors and see what we can learn from them. I want you to continue mapping items on a piece of paper and for this section I would like you to repeat the activity for your 3 biggest competitors. Please answer the following questions about your current competitors and their target market.
- Your competitors business name?
- Your competitors website address?
- Who are your competitors currently targeting? By looking at the demographics, psychographics and information available who are your competitors currently targeting.
- Who are their current customers? As in the question above look at the various aspects of their current customers and create a basic avatar of their existing clients.
- Look for opportunities and niches? Look at the competitors existing product and service offering. Can you identify and list the potential opportunities or niches your competitor is not targeting. You may find that these niches and opportunities are your key to success.
Once you have answered and documented the above information for your top 3 competitors create a written summary of the opportunities and niches. Then take a good look at these opportunities and niches and decide which might be viable for exploration.
You can also take this exercise further by exploring and documenting each opportunity and niche.
Analysing your products and services
We have looked at your existing customers and your competitors and now it's time to look at your products and services. In this activity we are going to deep dive into your individual product and service offering and document specific information. On a piece of paper or in a spreadsheet I would like you to make a list of the following items. You may find it easier to break the list into multiple columns. Document the following items for each product and service in your business.
- The name of the product or service? an example for this might be a website.
- The benefit the product or service provides? the benefits a website might give are greater visibility for the business online, a point of reference for business related materials, additional source of revenue for the individuals.
- List the people who have a need for those benefits? utilising the above examples I would think that a website and the benefits mentioned could benefit business owners, authors, retail stores and more.
Once you have completed the above questions for each of your products and services. I would like you to look at the common threads found through out each product and service and document what you have learned. Whilst this activity works to give you a general overview of your products and services and how they relate to your market this is still too general and we now need to look deeper at various aspects.
Choosing specific demographics of your target market
To develop an accurate target market avatar we need to look at the demographics of our target market. This means we need to document and identify a whole host of key metrics regarding our avatar. On a sheet of paper I would like you to investigate and document the following demographics for your avatar.
- Age? what is the targeted age range of your ideal client. Make sure this is as specific and narrowed down as possible.
- Location? where are your ideal clients located, what suburb, state, neighbourhood do they live in.
- Gender? what is the specific gender of your ideal client.
- Income Level? what is the average income level of your ideal client.
- Education Level? how educated is your ideal client.
- Marital or Family Status? is your ideal client married, do they have children, how many children.
- Occupation? what type of occupation does your ideal client have, blue collar, white collar, business owner, upper management.
- Ethnic Background? what ethnic background is your ideal client, are they white, indigenous, asian, indian or any other type of ethnicity.
Now that you have identified the demographics of your target market it is time to look at relevant psychographics for the client.
Consider the psychographics of your target market
In the above section we looked at the demographics of your ideal target market. In this section we are going to look at the psychographics or personal characteristics of your ideal client. On a sheet of paper investigate and identify all of the relevant information from the following categories.
- Interests / Hobbies
Determine how your products or services will fit into your targets life. How will they use the product or service, when will they use the product or service, what features appeal to your target, where does your target get it's information from, how can you reach your target client.
Evaluate your decision
Now that you have put in the hard yards and identified a whole pile of metrics and information useful to your business it is time to take the next step. What you now need to do is to go back over the previous exercises you completed.
Utilising the data and information collected lets create your avatar and ideal client target. To do this on a sheet of paper answer the following questions about your ideal client.
- Your ideal clients name? give your avatar a name. It is proven to be more effective to think of your avatar as an actual person.
- Describe your ideal client? craft 2 – 3 short paragraphs of information about your ideal client covering the demographics and psychographics of your client. You can write more paragraphs if you feel it is essential to describing your client.
- Describe the problem your client has? describe the problem your client has that your product or service solves. Keep this short 1-2 short paragraphs at most.
- Describe how your product or service benefits the client? by using a couple of short paragraphs describe how your product or service benefits the client. How does it solve the problem you identified in the previous paragraph.
- Evaluate the paragraphs and decisions made? document any changes that need to be made.
Now that you have created your avatar I want you to walk away from it and wait a couple of days. Then after a couple of days I would like you to look at your avatar again and decide if it is still accurate. If it is accurate then I would like you to look at the following questions and answer them honestly.
- Are there enough people who fit my avatar in the marketplace?
- Will your target avatar really benefit from my product or service offering?
- Will your target avatar see a need for the product or service?
- Do you understand what drives your target avatar to make decisions?
- Can your target avatar afford your products or services?
- Can you reach your target avatar and are they easily accessible?
If you feel at any stage with these final questions something needs adjusting then please make the changes and check your updated avatar against these same questions.
Whilst it is a long and tough exercise that you have now completed it is critical to the success of your business and your website. Congratulations and give yourself a pat on the back because you now have an accurate client avatar. This puts you ahead of a large portion of other business owners. Now that you have your client avatar you can make decisions based on who you are targeting.
In the next part of this series we will be looking at setting goals and objectives for your website and I will be taking you through a highly accurate goal setting exercise. This exercise will be useful for you to use for your business, your website and your personal goals.