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3 Questions You Need To Answer About Your Target Audience

by Jacob McMillen

Let’s pretend you just hired me as a copywriter. I only need two things to skyrocket your conversion rate.

  1. A thorough understanding of your product or service provides
  2. A thorough understanding of your target customer

Over the years, I’ve discovered that virtually every business successful enough to hire a legitimate copywriter has #1 down. They live, breathe, and sleep their business. They thoroughly understand everything their product or service can do and offer.

And really, that’s no surprise. If you don’t understand your own product, you’re gonna have a bad time.

But what is surprising is how few businesses really understand #2 – their target customer.

If you don’t thoroughly understand who you’re targeting, it’s very hard to target with any level of accuracy.

So let’s go back to pretending we’re working together. I’ll give you my questionnaire. How many questions can you answer about your target audience?

1. Who Is Your Target Customer?

target audience ce 800

You have to start somewhere. And while it’s okay to answer this question somewhat broadly, “men” or “business people” wont’ cut it.

Let’s just get this out of the way: We all want as many customers from as many segments as possible. Saying your targeting men, ages 20-35, doesn’t mean you don’t want 40-year-old women purchasing your product.

But defining a more narrow segment as your “target audience” allows you to directly appeal to that segment. You can’t really advertise or brand in a way that will compel the average 20-year-old man AND 40-year-old woman.

Vague messaging is worse than pointless.

And of course, your target customer profile isn’t limited to demographic profiles. It could be tech industry business owners making between $1-5 million in yearly revenue. It could be marketing managers at Fortune 1,000 firms.

A successful customer profile simply needs to identify a large group of people with something important in common.

2. What Are Your Target Customer’s Most Common Problems Or Pain Points?

This might be the most important question you’ll answer about your customers. What problems are they experiencing? What challenges are they facing? What issues are causing them pain over and over again?

Selling to someone who desperately needs a solution is ridiculously easy. When you understand the issues your customers are facing, it’s very easy to market your solution.

The mistake I see many businesses make here is attempting to create a problem rather than find an existing one.

For example, think about the infomercials that depict people having trouble performing tasks no one in the history of the world has EVER had trouble with.

It’s silly, but it’s all a time-honored practice used in sales called “creating a need.”

The idea is standard practice for traveling, interpersonal sales reps. If you can’t find a way in which your target customer needs your product, you simply create a need and convince them that they have a problem requiring a solution.

And while this makes sense for an interpersonal sales rep, who is limited to the person standing in front of him/her, it doesn’t work for online businesses. You don’t have 20 minutes to tell a story that convinces your would-be clients of their desperate need for your product.

Either they need it or they don’t.

If your product is any good, it is designed to solve a common problem shared by your target audience. Your goal is to thoroughly understand that existing problem rather than thinking up new problems or trying to make your product relevant to a problem-less audience.

See how Duluth Trading solves problems… and gains customer loyalty doing it.

3. What Does Your Target Customer Want?

If you’ve managed to produce answers to the last two questions, you have a set of problems your customer might hope to solve with your product or service.

When it comes to understanding these problems, however, there are two levels of awareness we need to have.

  1. We need to understand the basic, immediate problems that need solved.
  2. We also need to understand the underlying WHY that drives behavior—what is really desired?

You have to address “The WHY” that motivates your target customer.

For example, Dan’s immediate problem might be getting an affordable website build, but at his core, he doesn’t really care about websites. He is pursuing his dream to finally own his own online business.

If your messaging to Dan consists of offering a “Fast, Affordable Website Design,” you’ll be evaluated purely on price and samples, if you’re even discovered at all.

If you dive deeper and address Dan’s pain points in your messaging, offering to help Dan “Impress Your Clients Without The Hassle of DIY,” you’ve improved your offer.

If, however, you really go deep and address Dan’s WHY, offering “Everything You Need To Launch The Online Business You’ve Always Dreamed About,” you are really starting to resonate with Dan.

This is where understanding your target customer is so important. If I’m targeting new entrepreneurs, this type of messaging will give me a MASSIVE advantage over my competition. If, on the other hand, I’m targeting users wanting to build a website for the purposing of launching a book or listing their brick-and-mortar business, I’m going to disqualify myself with the above messaging.

If I understand what my customers want, I can connect my business to the fulfillment of their desires. And that, my friend, will make your offer a lot harder to resist.

Need more help? Answer the question, “What’s in it for me.”

Conclusion

It’s hard to hit a non-existent target. If you want to sell your product or service to someone, you need to understand who they are, the problems they’re facing, and what they want.

Get that right, and optimizing for conversions is easier. You can find a compelling value proposition. You can play with your CTA buttons and more. But until you know your target customer, you can’t do any of that.

If you haven’t already, take time to think about these three questions… then use it to optimize your sales copy. You’ll be amazed how how much easier it is to drive conversions.

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Jacob McMillen.

5 Comments

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Jacob McMillen

Jacob McMillen is a website copywriter and content strategist. He helps businesses stop playing around with content marketing and start seeing tangible ROI. Download his free guide: 2 Fail-Proof Marketing Strategies For Businesses On A Budget

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  1. Cathy Goodwin says:
    June 12, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Really good article. Since I work on websites I resonated to your example of “Dan’s” pain points. In particular, I like the example of “Website without the DIY Hassle.” What I’ve found is that even though the deeper “why” is “launch a new online business,” people are searching for what they think is the best way to get there – which often translates to a website, even if that’s not what they need.

  2. Nicolas Colombres says:
    May 28, 2015 at 5:54 am

    Great article indeed. This days you can create an ID in Analytics to identify the visitors of your website. This is also a great approach to segment your targueting audience 😉

  3. chawki trabelsi says:
    May 27, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Nice article Jacob we need to know our customers problem and find a solution of their needs, and the most important thing is to understand what that motivates them with our product or service. I really liked the examples you mentioned in the last paragraph about how to understand the customer wants and desire.

  4. Peter Boyle says:
    May 26, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Great article Jacob.

    If you ask me, understanding your audience’s wants, needs and pain points might just be the most important factor to increase sales.

    • Jacob McMillen says:
      May 26, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks Peter, and I would completely agree with you.

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