Startup marketing – 01: A is for Audience

No matter the kind of business you are involved with – web design, web and mobile applications development, graphic design, blogging, make-up, fashion design, etc. – the first rule of Sun Tzu applies. Yes, know your enemy. But in your case, it may be know your audience.

Today, understanding your audience is critical to any business survival. Understanding the technical requirements of your business is ok; but if you really want to succeed in business, you need to know the people you are trying to reach, how they think, how you will reach them and how to position your business to succeed in the long term.

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In an age where target audience is evolving faster than you can adjust your product, you need to build your market. There are many great applications that have never taken off because they got into the market wrongly. While the Blackberry was relaxing thinking it was in Eldorado, the Apple and Samsung have bought its coffin because, great marketing and an awesome product is a marriage made in heaven. I have met a lot of developers who spend a lot of time and energy building their ‘killer product‘ only to get the shock of their lives when nobody notices their product.

Understanding your audience is important and knowing how to sell to them is even more important. Marketing is taking a hit and we all know it. People are becoming more aware of ways to ignore your selling and advertising messages. There are some basic questions you need to ask yourself everyday… How will you get your products in front of the people who need to use it? How will you get your first 1000 downloads? How will you get the attention of the media? How will you get people to pay for the product? So, if you are starting our in business or running an existing business, understanding your customer and stakeholders is going to be critical to the success of your business.

So, how do I do that?

  1. Identify your stakeholders: Take a sheet of paper right now and list the different people or groups who by their action and or in-actions will determine the future of your business. Direct consumers, customers, bloggers, middle men, suppliers, government agencies should make your list and then add how they influence your business. You will need to answer some of the questions below:
    • How does their activities influence your business?
    • Are your customers different from your consumers?
    • How does government regulations impact your activities?
    • Have you considered copycats, pirates and hackers as stakeholders?
  2. Develop your buyers’ persona: Developing your customer’s persona is a big deal. Profiling your consumer is an important step in marketing your product or idea. It will reveal gems you can use in marketing your product, sourcing for funds, endorsements and partnerships. Some of the things that should be on profile include:
    • What are their demographics? Where do they live, are they male/female? what is their income level? How much education do they have?
    • What is their psycho-graphics? This talks about their behaviour and how they arrive at decisions. How do they look for what to buy? There are more people searching for information daily, comparing and seeking other people’s opinions on what to buy and / or what service to use. Is your product a status symbol? Do they buy high priced products for show or are they conservative in their spending such as keeping cars until they no longer function?
    • What are their interests? What do they like to do in their free time? Are they religious? Do they have special hobbies like keeping pets? Do they like to travel? If so, how and where? Do they participate in sports or follow it on various media outlets?
    • Who influences their product choices? Are the users the primary purchasers for their household? Does the mother do most of the shopping? Who do they consult about purchases? Who are the influencers that can get the word out? Twitter used this approach. Don’t overlook social media influences!
    • What are their personal goals? Here’s where Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is worth considering and how it applies to your target audience. There are five tiers: self-actualization, esteem, social, safety and physiological. Where does your product fit into this scale and how does this influence buyers?
    • Why do they interact with your company and your competitors? Do they like or dislike their products? how do they prefer it? Are there opportunities you can exploit?
    • How do they buy? Are they people who think expensive is quality or they make decisions base on price?
    • Does your product need a bit of education for people to appreciate it? Are they likely to use it if they see the value in the product? Do they want special help using them? Do they want to be actively involved as a fan?
    • Where do they look for information about your product category? Do they go online for research? Do they use search engines? If so, how and what types of words do they search on? What type of information do they want? Are they looking for product details, customer reviews, purchase information, product support or other options?
  3. Don’t forget your your Keyword Research: Keywords are the next best thing that happened since Cowbell chocolate. What phrases do people use to find your business? If you have an app that helps people plan their events, it looks cool if you call it ragex but people looking for apps or website that offer that service will always search for phrases like ‘event planners in Nigeria’, if you do not optimize for those phrases, people who do will get all the traffic. In this digital ecosystem, traffic is the currency.
  4. Interrogate your market: Have you ever asked people who will eventually use your products? they will gladly give you feedback about your market and the competition. Can you collect additional information from third party sources?

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Understanding your buyer persona is the starting point to creating an effective marketing plan. It will reveal your potential customers’ pain points and also help you understand who your target audience are. Your buyer personal will also reveal how to reach customers and most importantly where the money is.

The business is in the target audience.

Your business is to find it.

Image credit: DSM Publishing