“Jack of all trades, master of none.”
Well, as the above saying explains, one can’t put their hands in too many places and hope to succeed. Not in the current times at least. Building a business these days is not as easy as it used to be.
Thanks to the internet, people always search for the best for everything. You might have a great business idea for social media interaction, but you still would need to climb a huge mountain called ‘Facebook’ to set up your roots and gain some attention.
This is why finding your target audience has the utmost importance these days. Gone are the days when you could extend your arms in 4 different directions and still succeed in all of them. Today, in this age of the internet, having recognition even in a single domain is a difficult task.
The aim is to target a specific set of people and work to impress them. Their likes-dislikes, preferences, opinions and suggestions are taken into consideration before moving into further developments. At this point, understanding the meaning of ‘target audience’ is necessary. Let’s find out.
What is a target audience?
Now the first question that comes to one’s mind is — what exactly is a target audience or market? A target audience usually refers to a group or strata of potential customers for a particular product or service. It is that group of individuals towards whom all the marketing and sales strategies and efforts of a company are directed.
The most important characteristic of a target audience is their similarity in requirements. They usually have similar expectations, interests, incomes, etc. ( Also read: Marketing Essentials ).
Successful enterprises spend huge sums on and hours on finding the right kind of customers for their products and services. They spend ample time in researching and narrowing down the audience they wish to target and their choices. This is what puts them much ahead of other competitors.
Why is identifying a target audience important for any business?
That is quite obvious by now, isn’t it? The investment in defining your target audience helps you to grow your business. If you don’t do that, you might remain a novice entrepreneur, watching the competition run past you.
Investing money without identifying your target audience is more like flushing it down a drain. It’s like gambling in a casino; you risk too much without any guarantee of profit. If you lose, well, you might as well end up being bankrupt.
Trying to sell your product or service without knowing your target audience could well be an endless rat chase, leaving you with nothing but empty pockets and an angry mind.
Defining the needs of your target audience
Once you narrow down the prospective customers of your brand, the next step is to evaluate what they are looking for. It then becomes necessary to mold and alter the features of your product as per the market demand.
For instance, Linkedin, unlike any other social media platform, sought to target only professionals and aided them in connecting with other businesses, finding jobs, and establishing one’s presence in the business world. Its success speaks for itself.
If we look at our company, at Ubblu, we aim at providing a distraction-free team chat option. This is different from other platforms as we target only one problem — distraction while working — and tend to resolve it.
Ubblu is hence trying to target those groups which need distraction-free communication while they do their work, attend classes, etc. So, the target audience for us here is professionals and gamers, since both these groups need a system where they can chat with their teammates and continue working and playing respectively.
Narrowing down your USPs
Before figuring out your USPs, you must understand what a USP is. A USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is that feature or set of characteristics of your product or service that makes it stand out of the crowd. It is that key reason that must be the motivation for a buyer to purchase your product.
You can’t sell your product if it doesn’t outshine the competition in the market. The commonest example is of WhatsApp. Many companies tried to barge in its territory, but could not match the big bunch of uncomplicated features offered by WhatsApp.
WhatsApp presented the public with a smooth onboarding process. It was clean and remarkably frictionless. Unlike its competitors back in the day, WhatsApp was unique, in providing a free messaging service that allowed users to login using their phone numbers. Apps like WeChat only succeeded in their country of origin, China in this case, and could not hold onto a strong place in the global market.
With a much cleaner and simpler user interface as compared to its competitors, WhatsApp became a global phenomenon, loaded with easy-to-use features. And that’s how it started writing its success story.
Another popular example would be of Amazon, owned by the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos. The simple reason for their success, as per the owner himself, is their commitment to three beliefs:
- Accept occasional failure as the price of innovating,
- Work everyday like its your first day in business, and
- Give your customers what they want before they know they want it.
These universal lessons from Amazon made it stand way in front of others.
So, to do well in a similar line of business, one needs to be smart. You cannot have the same features as a business giant and hope to succeed exactly as it did. You have to be unique and different in at least some way if you have to stand a chance at even competing.
Another example could be the growing use of video conferencing and communication apps during this pandemic. Some of the companies heading the race here are Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Slack, Discord, etc.
Now if a company like Ubblu needs to get into this race, they need to have something different and specific to set them apart. Thus, Ubblu is focussed on creating and developing a distraction-free team chat application, to avoid any hassles or confusion.
This is how narrowing down becomes important. Focus on one key area and then develop your product in consonance with that. That is the best way to be recognized in a market full of innovations and designs.
How to choose the right features for your product?
Just like a salesman asks you about what is it you need when you go shopping similarly you ask the customer what is it they need. Mind you, this stage is after selecting your target audience. This means you already know the crowd you have to cater to, but now you are looking to customize it further to suit them.
How do you ask so many people about what they need? Surveys and insights. Ask a bunch of people what they like and dislike about the product or service. Their opinions would reveal interesting facts that you would not even have thought about. Search for common answers and work on those features. As simple as that.
Prototyping and Finalizing
This is the stage where you test your product. Test it to see whether it is being appreciated or not; which features are being liked and which are getting frowned upon. The easiest way to carry out testing is to roll out your product within limited focus groups and note their reactions.
This, however, is not only a test of the product but also the target audience. See if your product actually solves the focus group’s needs. Their validation is the most important after all. This is the point where you get to change things before lifting the curtains to present it to the world.
If the product does well in the focus group, you can set further plans in motion. You have to address the suggestions or opinions formed by your test group. Once the product is officially released, it is the job of the marketing team to note and analyze the demographics of the target audience. This can be done by doing surveys, sales tracking, etc.
Also, this is the point where you have to be honest with yourself. That is to say that if you see there is no demand, or the product is struggling to pick up appreciation, then you must reconsider and get back to the design board. There is no point in tearing a hole through your own pockets even after knowing about a possible failure.
Getting back to the design board is always a wiser choice than to dig your own grave. You don’t want a business to shut down because you can’t swallow your pride.
The target audience is the nucleus of all marketing and development plans, with all other strategies orbiting around it. Their response dictates how the company would tweak its product strategy.
Always remember, every famous business giant walked through a rocky path called ‘how to make my customer happy’. The reason for those companies to enjoy sitting on a higher pedestal is the fact that they have decoded the answer to this question.
The throw-all-in strategy is going to take you nowhere and the only zeroes that you’ll add would be to your bills and losses. Target audience is going to take a lot of effort up front, but it will also make sure that the zeroes end up being on a profits cheque and not on a bank statement.
Remember, do not be a jack of all trades; instead, be a master of one and enjoy the success that follows.