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According to Forbes, half of all small businesses close within the first five years, primarily as a result of lack of market demand due to a failure to engage a target audience.

Defining your target audience is a crucial step in launching a new or repositioning an under-performing business. It allows you to develop a brand identity and messaging to attract customers most likely to engage your services.

This update discusses two simple activities to identify your target audience – customer segmentation and persona development, as a first step in creating a plan to engage the right audience.

Business Segmentation

Business segmentation is the process of dividing a broad consumer or business-to-business area into distinct groups of services targeted to clients with similar needs.  This process makes it easier to tailor messaging, products, services, and marketing activities to a specific audience.

Example

Tom Hamilton decided to open a solo law practice after working for a large law firm, primarily in their Trust and Estate team. He rents office space and spends $10,000/month on print and digital advertising to promote his general law practice via a popular local lifestyle magazine.

Six months into his practice he has gained some clients, mainly friends and family, and gets a lot of inquiries. But the inquiries are not converting to clients, primarily because of his limited experience in many areas of law, such as family, real estate, and personal injury.

Tom reassessed his business strategy using this business segmentation funnel:

How to Build a Shop Funnel That Drives Traffic to Your Online Store

And decided to narrow focus his practice to the trust and estate law segment. He has deep experience in this area and will be able to provide clients with legal advice on simple matters as a value-add.

Customer Personas

Customer personas are semi-fictional depictions of your target audience – or ideal customers – based on your business segmentation and market research, knowledge, and insights.

Personas are composites of traits that may include age, education, job, income level, interests, hobbies, geographic location, attitudes, and needs. As they will be used to tailor messaging, promotional investment, and services, it is best to start with one to three personas and expand if needed.

Example

Looking back on his previous experience in trust and estate law, Tom noted following characteristics of people seeking these services:

  • Most were adults with young children or recent retirees.
  • Were college-educated.
  • Held professional and/or were business owners.
  • Had active personal and community interests.
  • Shared a concern to ensure a comfortable future for themselves and their families.

 

Using this information, Tom created the following customer personas:

Persona 1 Erin

Persona 2 Liz_Eric

With a clear understanding of his core services and target audience, Tom concludes that he needs to adapt his selling message to highlight his expertise in trust and estate law and modify his promotional strategy to reach his target audience.

Next Steps

Once you’ve defined your business segment and target audience, the next step is to create a value proposition and selling messages that will motivate clients to choose your products and services.

In Brand Building 102 we will explore using competitive analysis as a tool to develop authentic messages that address your target customer’s needs and differentiate you from alternative options.

Stay tuned!