By Rommie Corso, former Senior Marketing Consultant
One of the most basic (yet ignored) principles of marketing is “know thy target market”.
For many NFPs, identifying ideal customers triggers a fear of ruling out possibilities. “Oh, but our customer-base is very broad, we have to appeal to everyone,” they’ll say.
It’s a fatal mistake. When it comes to marketing, hedging your bets wastes time and money – the upshot is you’ll dilute your brand and end up down rabbit holes working on weak campaigns.
How to really get to know your target audience
Here are five ways to get a strong, clear idea of who your best customer is:
- Ask: What’s the problem we’re trying to solve?
Don’t assume your customers think like you. Start by focussing on the problem your organisation exists to solve rather than your organisation’s operations. For example, your NFP might offer services for people with disabilities (at least that’s how you view the organisation). Flipping that around, you might say your NFP removes barriers for people with disabilities – it provides freedom.
From this vantage point, it’s easier to see who is struggling with the problem the most. It’s your first step in identifying your target market.
- Build a vivid picture of your ideal customer
From here, you can start by looking at your current clientele and working out where the majority are skewed. You can build a picture defined by a variety of demographics, such as age, gender, job status, life stage, interests and location.
It can be useful to create personas, or profile cards, of your ideal customer to get a clear picture of the type of person that’s most likely to spend money with your organisation.
- Get inside their heads
Now it’s time to conduct primary research on existing, past and potential clients. Quantitative survey software (like Survey Monkey) can obtain large-scale responses about your audience’s motivations, frustrations and thoughts about your organisation.
Smaller qualitative surveys with open-ended questions get deeper into why your target market thinks this way. You can delve into satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with your organisation, or you may like to ask about concerns and desires for additional services, and this insight is GOLD. It’s really important that qualitative surveys take place in person or by phone, and are carried out by a third party to ensure objectivity and transparency.
- Follow the interactions of your peers and competitors
Evaluating how your competitors are interacting with your audience can also give insight – often they’ve done their own primary research to inform the way they interact. Look at how they position their brand and messages.
Similarly, watch organisations in other fields with the same target market – how are they communicating with their audience? Compare this with your primary findings.
- Tune in digitally
Even the most stable customer bases can change over time, and in this digital age, we’re lucky to have access to more customer insights than ever before.
The best place to start is with a free website measurement tool like Google Analytics. Fabulously easy to use, this software accounts for web visitors, dwell time, bounce rates, visitor demographics (like age, gender) and devices used – over any timeframe you like. You can also monitor keywords used to find your website and ensure your website’s search engine optimisation (SEO) is up to scratch.
Social media insights show the demographics of your most active users in programs like Facebook Insights and the Twitter Followers dashboard. Being active in your own social media by asking questions can be surprisingly revealing, and costs nothing.
You can monitor online commentary about your brand (or your competitors) using Google Alerts and social listening software like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or Icerocket. And, if you know what your customers are into, you can join Facebook or LinkedIn groups or follow the magazines and blogs they follow to get further insight.
The key is to ask your customers for their opinions at every chance you get. If you’d like some help, contact our Senior Marketing Consultant via:
Phone: 1300 284 364
Subscribe to receive the latest Foreword articles delivered to your inbox on the first Thursday of each month.