How to Meet Your Target Audience Online

This post originally published on the General Assembly blog.

Your target audience is the first place you go to spread awareness about your product, and likely your first adoptors, too. Assuming you’ve done the necessary amount of customer discovery — identifing and validating the problem that you’re solving, and identifing your potential customers — your next step is effectively communicating your message to this audience. When you are speaking to your audience, remember it’s not about you or what you do. It’s about their pain point and your recognition, understanding, and empathy towards that pain. That’s why you set out to solve the problem in the first place.

Once you understand that part of your message, you have to find the channels that are the most effective for your communications strategy. Ask these 7 questions in order to properly locate and target your audience.

1. Who are they?

Create a demographic persona. Give your ideal customer a name, personalize them, and make them real. The persona of your ideal customer should include all available demographic info, but also what they like and don’t like — as people, not just as customers.

2. Where are they?

Geographically and on the internet. Knowing their physical location is a great start, but knowing where they go on the internet is key to your digital strategy.

3. How do you reach them?

The world used to be about TV and print ads, in which you targeted a specific demographic in a specific publication. Today, we can get far more specific, down to their “likes” and dislikes and where they express those preferences.

4. What words do they use?

People in their 40s use different words than people in their 20s and vise-verse. Based on the demographic information you’ve used to create your ideal customer persona, what words do they use? You need to speak their language in all of your content.

5. Where do they get their information?

There are so many different channels for acquiring new information today, from Reddit to Linkedin and everything in between. Where do your customers get their information when they are learning about new technologies?

6. Who influences them?

This question may be the answer to the previous question because studies have shown that most consumers (if that’s your target market) make purchase decisions based on the influence of their peers or authority figures that they trust on the internet. We call these people “influencers,” and they are a powerful bunch. Who do your customers listen to?

7. How will they learn about you?

If you did no marketing at all, not even social media, how might your target customers organically find you in their daily lives? Identify those locations, physical or digital, and amplify them with your message.

Many times, we know in our gut and from our research that we are solving a problem that affects many people. Finding, targeting, and communicating with those people is a higher challenge. These 7 questions can get you closer to a well timed, well worded, and properly located message.

What do you think about that?

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