Identifying Your Target Market & Building a Tailored Digital PR Strategy
You can’t just create a heap of content and hope it will be a success. You have to know who you are creating it for and why they will consume it. It’s a very simple concept: you can’t hit the bullseye if you don’t know where the dartboard is.
In this blog:
- How to Identify Your Target Audience
- Building a Persona
- Appealing to Your Target Audience
- What Kind of Digital PR Turns Your Audience On?
Taste is subjective. What appeals to one person repels another. Faced with the natural variations in taste present in society, marketers must think very carefully about how to use their resources. Casting a wide net is expensive, and it pulls up all kinds of crap, but putting the right net in the right place at the right time nets you the exact results you were looking for at a fraction of the cost. But before you can design your net, first you must identify the characteristics of your fish.
Very few businesses have a product or service that is bought by everyone. Even something as universal as a toothbrush is significantly more likely to be bought by one section of society (mums) than another (their teenage sons).
If you have enough money to buy one billboard to advertise your luxury brand of alkaline mineral water, where do you put it? Kensington or Croydon?
Is your new range of organic, fair trade, maca-infused, cacao nib nibbles going to be better placed in Waitrose or Asda?
While there are always individuals that defy categorisation, and while demographics are starting to feel less fixed than ever before, target marketing remains an essential tool for the savvy marketer.
How to Identify Your Target Audience
Take a look at what your business is selling and then begin to think about who you want to sell it to — even better, do this the other way round and think about what the people you’re selling to need and start selling that. You should aim to answer at least the following six questions about your target audience:
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- What gender are they?
- What is their education status?
- What ethnicity are they?
- What’s their income (buying power)?
Moving through the buckets, sex, age, income — eventually, you reach a person that both wants to buy and is able to buy.
These factors are important because a fifteen-year-old Asian girl from Birmingham consumes content in a totally different way to a fifty-eight-year-old male pensioner from Lancashire. Once you’ve answered these questions you can start to construct an avatar. An avatar is a representation of your target customer. The more details you fill in about your avatar, the more that you can start understanding the way they are likely to behave. This means that you can tailor the content that you create to the type of target customer that you are hoping to attract.
To give a clear example, the latest statistics show that teenagers (twelve to seventeen) watch less TV than any other age group. Between 2011 and 2015 there was a 30% contraction in the number of hours of TV watched by teenagers. Where are they all going? They are migrating away from traditional forms of media and towards online video sites such as YouTube. To the twelve to seventeen-year-old age group, even Facebook has become uncool as their parents and grandparents have started to understand and regularly use their Facebook profile. This group prefers the supposed anonymity of Snapchat that makes it harder for parents to keep track of what they’re doing…
What does this all mean for businesses? It means that if your primary audience is twelve to seventeen year-olds then TV ads and even Facebook ads might not be the way to go. You need to come to the place that your target audience is already at if you want to get their attention. Try making some hilarious YouTube videos, getting coverage from bloggers, or even running a social media campaign on Snapchat if you want to see real results here.
Action Point: Sketch out a persona for your target customer. I know that this might sound a bit like a primary school activity for creating a storybook character, but trust me, this is an essential part of understanding who you’re trying to sell to. Without it, you risk losing your focus and targeting too broad of an audience.
Let’s take a look at how audience identification feeds in digital PR strategy. Let’s say you run a dental clinic in London and you specialise in cosmetic dentistry procedures — teeth whitening, straightening and so on. You want to target your business to customers with a good income who are concerned about their appearance and oral health, which will likely lead you to focus on young professionals in their late twenties and early thirties.
They want information about what cosmetic dentistry options are available for them and the costs, so you produce marketing materials and a content strategy around this.
You can further use this information for targeted keyword discovery. This means researching keywords based on what your target audience wants, not just on the content that you already have on your website. Our cosmetic dentist can look at what their audience wants (i.e. cosmetic dental treatments), research keywords relating to this and optimise their website accordingly. Knowing a young professional may be interested in teeth whitening or invisible braces means it’s easier to determine top keywords in this niche and use them to gain visibility for specific areas of your website.
DIY Market Research
To find out exactly which of your services pique your target customers’ interest, it may be worth undertaking some DIY market research. If you’re starting up a new coffee shop, for example, why not head down the road and spend a few hours in a competitor’s coffee shop? Spend some time finding out what each customer orders: Do they just get a drink or food as well? What products are most popular? Do they prefer to stay in or takeaway? When are the busiest periods? You can use all of this to find trends and predict preferences of your own customers.
If market research for your product isn’t as straightforward as spending time at a similar business, consider conducting focus groups for marketing research. If you can gather a group of people who are your target demographic, then you can run one on your own. If not, you may consider using a professional market research company.
If you’re running an online e-commerce business or similar, then check out websites of your competitors. What products are featured on their homepage? Which ones are they pushing in sales? What are they sharing on their social media accounts? Can you find any customer reviews of their products? What’s their unique selling point (USP)? Compare this to your own website and consider running a user test through a service like Peek User Testing to see how the average internet user responds to your website’s design and calls to action (CTA).
If you have already built the beginnings of a customer base, look at your current data. Which of your web pages are people landing on most often? What terms have they searched before landing on your website? Which items are your top sellers, and which are less popular? You can also conduct surveys of your current audience by using on-site surveys or using websites such as SurveyMonkey to find out which products they like and don’t like, their thoughts on pricing, and what attracts them to your website.
Building a Digital PR Strategy for Your Target Audience
When deciding the focus of your business’ digital PR strategy, it’s not simply a case of picking the ideas that you like the most or the strategy that will be easiest to accomplish. You want to appeal to your audience, and they want to know you care about them and will solve their problem. There are many factors that need to be fed in to make sure your strategy appeals to your target consumers and is also achievable for a business of your size and stature.
You should consider the following before making any decisions about a digital PR strategy:
- What are your main business objectives and how can digital PR support them?
- What will appeal to your target audience? Where do they spend their time online? What are they into? What are they reading? Who do they follow?
- What is your unique selling point (USP), and how does that influence your digital PR?
- What is your budget? What are your realistic digital PR options?
- What are the giants in your industry doing? What can you learn from them?
- What are your competitors doing? If they’re doing nothing, then sweet! You’ll soon outrank them. If they’re doing stuff, how can you do it better?
All of the content that you produce during your digital PR and content marketing activities, whether it’s advice articles, how-to guides, blogs, newsletters, infographics, videos, social media posts, needs to appeal to your target audience. Plan your content types carefully and provide information backing up why this content will appeal to your audience. Be as specific as you can in your reasoning. Sure, there will be an element of trial and error, but the more information you can start off with the better your chances of success are.
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