A couple of weeks ago I announced the ebook I’ve written with a couple of buddies of mine, and I shared a chapter I’d written about writing for the web.
The book is about the journey of me and seven other people — members of The Hundred Dollar Club — who were each given $100 to kickstart us into building our online businesses. But it’s not just that: the main theme is the importance of having a network of people who get it to turn to when things get rough or you need help figuring stuff out. And that’s what the members of The Hundred Dollar Club are to each other.
The book also contains eight steps you can do to build your own online business. It’s good shit, y’all. (Protip: you have to actually DO the steps.)
Well, because I’m just so flippin’ kind, I’ve decided to share another chapter with you. It’s about finding your target audience, which, you know, is a super important thing to do.
If you want to go ahead and just download the ebook straight away, you can do so here. (IT’S FREE.)
Determine Your Target Audience
Once you’ve settled on your business idea, you need to figure out precisely who you’re going to target it at. The most important thing to remember here is that you can’t please everyone – and you shouldn’t try to. Trying to please everyone will leave you with a mediocre offering that doesn’t appeal to anyone in particular. And so no one will buy from you, and your business will fail.
Unfortunately, you are going to want to create something that absolutely anyone could buy – the bigger your target market, the more sales you’ll make, right?
But, no – sadly not the case.
Let’s say you’re a life coach. Do you really think George, the 50-year-old guy going through a divorce, is going to want the same advice as Cheryl, the 21-year-old chick who just graduated and doesn’t know what the hell to do with her life? Precisely. So why are you trying to appeal to both of them by declaring yourself a generic old ‘life coach’? Far better to narrow in on one in particular and gear your entire brand towards them.
It doesn’t matter what you’re selling – coaching, kettles, crampons – you must define your target audience. Those crampons – who’s going to buy them? Retired folks who want to climb a gentle slope in the winter, or hardened climbers who are planning to scale Everest? Because you can’t appeal to both. The retirees are going to think they’re not advanced enough for those crampons, and the hardened climbers are going to think they’re too good – despite the fact that the crampons would work fine for either.
You’re going to worry about getting too narrow, about choosing such a small niche that nobody will ever buy from (or find) you. But that’s really, seriously, very hard to do.
In fact, the narrower you go, the more likely you are to get customers. Because those people you’re targeting will feel like you’re talking directly to them. Like you’re reaching into their soul, understanding them completely, and then offering the solution to their woes. That’s what you’re going for here. Slamming straight to the heart of the matter and offering up precisely what this specific person needs.
And it doesn’t matter if you really do offer the best possible solution – and it especially doesn’t matter if you don’t. What matters is that you make your target audience feel like you offer the best possible solution because you are the one who understands their needs.
Sure, you probably could offer sound life advice to both George and Cheryl. But you’re not going to convince either of them if you try to appeal to both. By ignoring George altogether, and targeting everything about your business and your brand right at Cheryl’s heart, there is no way she – or the countless others like her – is going to overlook you or go somewhere else. You’ve got EXACTLY what she needs, and she’s willing to give you money to get it.
You want to become known as the place to go for whatever it is you sell. And to do that you must appeal to only a specific group of people. There’s no way around it. But those people you DO appeal to? Those people will become your biggest fans.
So how exactly do you figure out who your target audience should be? Well, you’re going to need to do some digging. To ask yourself some deep questions. We touched on this briefly in the previous chapter, when we talked about narrowing down your ideas to zoom in on a very specific niche. So let’s go even deeper with that.
You’ve probably got an idea for your business. Now you need to define it more, to figure out exactly who to target it towards. Okay, so you want to start that life coaching business? Great! But who’s going to want to work with you? This part is tough, especially if this is your first business. Time to start asking those questions. Let’s get back to Cheryl. How can we appeal to her with our life coaching business?
Is Cheryl a young woman? Uh huh.
Has she just graduated? Yup!
And is she now struggling to figure out what to do with her life? BINGO. This is a part of Cheryl’s identity that she cares deeply about, and so, you guessed it – Cheryl’s your first customer. And others like her are lining up at the door.
Still struggling? Chances are, you’ll be able to provide a better product or service to people you actually understand – so work backwards from that. Ask yourself, who do already know how to help? Think about problems you’ve struggled with yourself, and what the perfect solution for you would have been. Now go and provide that solution – and target it very specifically to your old self. Because there will be others who are in the same situation right now, and they need your help.
It’s all about identity and making people feel something. Because people buy things that they believe will bring them closer to becoming the person they aspire to be. And so, if you already know a little something about this person and who they aspire to be (because you’ve been there yourself) then you’re primed to offer a fantastic solution.
The easiest audience to target is going to be the one you actually have things in common with. Because the people you’re targeting will feel like you get them (because you DO). You will naturally know what they like, what problems they face, who they aspire to be, and what part of their identity they care deeply about.
Get Specific About Whose Problem You’re Solving
Find the problem
Take your best idea from Step 3 and clearly articulate the problem it solves. Does it take away someone’s pain? Or enhance their life somehow? Keep going until you find the answer. [note: you will need to read the rest of the book to find out what Step 3 is ;)]
Find the person
List all the attributes of the people who suffer that problem. What interests do they have in common? Where do they hang out? What do they love doing? Who do they do it with? Ideally, you’ll invent a specific character in your head who will match this description – this will make it easier to visualise your target audience.
Keep asking questions about that person until you come up with your BINGO answer. Keep peeling back layers until you find the aspect of the person’s identity that they really care about.
Remember, no niche is too small. Niche. It. Down!
Want to read the rest of the book? No problemo! You can download it here. You’ve got nothing to lose, amigo. (I did mention that the book is free, right?)