A is for Audience

 
What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves, stories about the future and about change.
— Seth Godin
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This morning, I'm excited to introduce the first post in a series called the Alphabet of Branding. Periodically, I'll be releasing a new "drop cap" letter and talking about a common topic in the branding world. Think of it as your guide to building your brand, in a serial format. Today, we start with letter "A", which stands for audience.


Let's set the stage: you've imagined an amazing business idea. You have notebooks filled with ideas, potential business models, pricing, and processes. Now the question is - who will buy?

Your social media is a mix of strangers, family, and college buddies. But honestly, it just feels like a number. Your first few clients and customers have been close friends. You haven't quite figured out your niche, and your readership feels like anything but a fan-base.

One of the most empowering factors in building your brand is a clear understanding of your target audience. From there, it becomes easier to create new products, services, and content that you know will be well-received. Once you know exactly who you're trying to help, you'll find a sense of purpose in your business. 

But understanding your audience is more than just identifying a demographic range. What you'll need to find out is the personality of your customer - what their day-to-day looks like, where they get inspired, and why your business is appealing to them. 

So before you freak out that you'll never find your customer-base, I've got a few suggestions on identifying your target audience:

1. Create a personal connection

What's the best way to get to know someone? By asking questions.

Think about it - when you're meeting someone for the first time, whether it's a party or coffee date, your first instinct is to find the common ground.

Begin by reaching out to your current followers on social media, blog readers, and email subscribers. Get to know them on a personal level!

This is where having a small following may actually work to your benefit - it's much less overwhelming to have one-on-one interactions with a few people who may become lifelong clients and friends.

• Share a glimpse into your personal life on social media.

Tell the story of why you started your business, how you spend your days, and what you're excited about. Show your personal side and see who resonates in your audience.

Think in the future about what kinds of things you'll be interested in sharing with a larger audience - whether its your faith, family, or social causes. If it's something that's important to you, and you can share that passion with your audience, you'll build a stronger brand tribe united under a common cause, belief, or experience.

• Ask your followers about their life.

Make it a point to periodically introduce yourself online AND ask your audience questions. This is the best way to "meet" your audience and find out if it's a group of people you want to be online friends with. The more you share and interact, the better understanding you will have about who you're selling to.

2. Target Audience vs. Niche Market

There is a difference between a target audience and a niche market. For instance, my target audience is a creative female entrepreneur who values essentialism, enjoys the freedom that comes from running an online business, and has a particular love of typography. 

But, I most likely share this target audience with a lot of other service providers - from copywriters to photographers, and even other designers! So, knowing who my target audience is will allow me to think about how I might niche my business in order to capture their attention.

With that in mind, here are some other ways to find your target audience:

• Look at other online entrepreneurs you admire.

They may have the same target audience! And by seeing who else is following your internet idols will help you to understand a demographic that already exists in the digital space that you may be able to speak to, people who share more in common with you than binge-reading the same blog posts.

• Look at who your "competitors" are targeting.

By taking a closer look at your competitors, you may be able to start crafting your version of an ideal audience. What do you like/not like about your competitor's followers? Knowing who you DON'T want to work with is just as important as knowing who you DO.

But, just a little word to the wise - your understanding of your audience will grow over time. Use it as a starting point for developing your services, products, and content. In your first year of business, it's a good idea to reevaluate your audience and your client/customer base every few months. Once you've been in business for awhile, a check-in once or twice a year is enough to evaluate where you are and where you're trying to go.

3. Evaluate your current followers

When evaluating your audience, here are a few things to pay attention to:

Comments

What kind of comments are people leaving on your social media and blog posts? Are the conversations productive? Are your followers finding other friends on your platform and perhaps interacting with each other? Building a strong audience is more than attracting fans, it's creating a space where people can find other like-minded individuals.

Clients/Customers

Think about who you've worked with since the last evaluation. Make note of clients and customers who stood out as being particular good or particularly bad fits. What made it a successful or unsuccessful interaction? Does it give you any insight into the type of person you want to work with in the future?

More than a Demographic

When crafting a description of your target market, understand that it goes deeper than the surface level demographics. Sure age, location, and occupation are important - but beliefs, attitude, experiences, and personality are even better indicators of human connection.


What do you think about this series? Are you excited to learn more about the pillars of branding? What topics do you want to learn more about in the future? Leave a comment below!