Identifying a target audience can help direct your business strategy towards a specific goal. Many independent consultants can benefit from revisiting their target clientele, so whether you’re just starting out as an independent or looking to refocus the target market for your business, defining the clients you want to reach can help increase your return on investment by directing marketing and messaging efforts to the right audience. Here are four ways to ensure your services reach the right people.
1. Define Your Product or Service
Before trying to identify your target audience, first think about your product or service. What makes it unique, what problem does it solve, and is it fulfilling a market need? Review all of the features your service offers, write them down, and then list the corresponding benefits that each feature provides. This self-analysis will help provide a foundational outline for the types of people likely to use your product or service.
2. Consider Who Benefits Most From Your Business
Your work is about more than just a product or service; it’s about how you can address a need or solve a problem that potential clients have. Successful independent consultants are able to recognize those who both need and value their services. Using your feature and benefit list, think about the people who will gain value from what you have to offer, have the most to lose from not utilizing your services, and would be willing to pay what you’re charging—this is your target market. For example, if you’re an IT consultant, research growing companies looking to increase IT infrastructure, or start-ups trying to establish their business to find people who fit your target audience.
3. Study Current Clients
Take a look at your current and past clients. List each client’s demographics, including age, industry, profession, gender, and geographic region. You can also include psychographics such as client values, interests, lifestyle and behavior. Compare these lists, and take careful note of similarities or patterns that emerge; you may find that your service appeals to a specific demographic or subset of consumers. This analysis can help to further define your target market. Be sure to identify your top clients and take note of why they are using your product or service and what initially drove them to you. This is key insight that you can utilize in future marketing efforts.
4. Investigate Your Competition
Studying your competition’s clients can provide two important points of information. First, a successful competitor’s client base can give you an idea of the type of client who uses similar services. Second, you may discover an industry need that competitors are not currently fulfilling. If you’re new to independent consulting and are working to acquire your first clients, investigating your competition is a good place to start. Dig deeper by looking at competitor’s social media, advertising, and website traffic to get an idea of their business strategy. With a bit of research, you may find an area you have a competitive advantage in, or come across a market gap that is not being served.
Once you’ve gone through these steps, think back on the audience you’ve defined. Does your target clientele make sense? Are there enough people to fulfill a need for your product or service, and can they afford what you are thinking of charging? As you continue to build out your target audience, research online to see others in your industry are doing, look at blogs and forums where your audience may be sharing their opinions, and consider reaching out to current clients for feedback. Remember, while accurately and thoroughly defining your target audience takes time, it is well worth the effort to create a strong foundation to build your business from.
News and notes for independent professionals and their clients. This is The Weekly Independent, January 30, 2017 edition.
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