No matter what niche you operate in, your ideal target audience is out there. As long as your services provide actual value, there is a group of people that will be “chomping at the bit,” so to speak, to use them.
The problem for many, especially solopreneurs, is that they have trouble identifying just who their ideal audience is. And then even after you figure out who you want to reach, misguided messaging could make them think that your offerings aren’t for them.
The big takeaway here is that bad messaging can kill your brand and your business.
After all, if your target audience doesn’t think they’re the ones you’re trying to reach, why would they bother to learn more about your business?
Now the good news: reaching your ideal audience is far from impossible. Taking a few extra steps to fine-tune your brand messaging will help you reach the right people.
1. Understand Who They (Really) Are
One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is that they often just focus on basic demographic info to figure out who their target audience is. But in reality, info like age or race doesn’t tell you anything meaningful that helps you truly know your audience.
If you want to really know about your audience, you have to know what matters to them. Their interests, lifestyle, worries, goals and so on. Don’t breeze by this just because you’ve heard it before. People are their habits, not their age or gender. Personal things like hobbies, fears and desires are the more useful information when it comes to your messaging and fine-tuning. This attention to detail about what matters to them and why allows you to speak to your audience — not at them.
A great example of this comes from J. Benjamin Unkle, Jr., CEO of Birdsong. During a recent email conversation, he explained, “While our end users are senior citizens, these are people that don’t spend much time online, or may not see the reason to use technology. That means that our actual target audience is their family. The people who want to help their parents or grandparents stay connected and engaged with society. Understanding why they would want their loved ones to use modern tech is what drives all of our messaging.”
Your customer is always going to be more complex than just “seniors” or “men between 18-48”, so do the deeper research to learn who they really are.
2. Discover Where They Hang Out
I wish this was something I didn’t have to bring up, but it seems like way too often, entrepreneurs forget that messaging on LinkedIn is way different than messaging on Facebook, which is also different than messaging on Twitter.
Different people use different platforms for different reasons. Heck, even a person with accounts on all three of those platforms is going to use each one differently. Your messaging needs to adapt to where it is being delivered.
Of course, you’ll save money by focusing on the platforms where your audience likes to “hang out” digitally. Focusing on the most-used platforms and then adjusting your message to reflect the type of content your audience wants to see when using these sites will help you make the best impression possible.
3. Get Persuasive With Your Messaging
Corporate ads are usually extremely generic, formulaic and impersonal. The problem is, many solopreneurs try to follow the “big business” model of doing things, and their ads wind up with that same detached, corporate feel.
A recommendation from a trusted leader in your industry or one of your favorite influencers on the other hand? That’s messaging with an actual human face attached to it. The personal testimonial or recommendation comes off as far more genuine, even if it’s part of a paid partnership. More importantly, those in your ideal target audience already know and trust this person.
This way, the messaging for your brand isn’t just more personal. It’s also far more persuasive.
Going personal with your branding and showing that you’re a living and breathing, individual person and not another faceless, emotionless corporation can also help (it’s definitely helped me), but if you’re not me (yet) you can build credibility through a trusted face in the industry and make an even bigger impact on potential clients.
4. Account For The Change In Times…
Saying that we currently live in weird times is an understatement.
Global events like COVID-19 can have (and have had) a major impact on you and your audience. You can’t ignore this. You must adapt.
When planning a new messaging effort, take a step back and consider how it will sound in light of current events. Does your messaging reflect how the changing situation is affecting things on a “big picture” level?
More importantly, does it acknowledge how it is impacting your customers as individuals?
This doesn’t mean that every message you put out there has to reference “COVID-19” or whatever other headlines happen to be dominating the news on that particular day. But aligning your messaging with all-impactful events will keep your brand fresh, informative and relevant.
You’ll show that you truly understand what’s going on in your customers’ lives, and demonstrate why you still matter.
Becoming A Better Messenger
The most effective messengers know that they need to adapt their message based on the needs of their audience. This is especially true when trying to sell a service online.
By actually getting to know your ideal audience — what makes them tick, where they’re hanging out and what will be most persuasive to them — you’ll form those connections that help you scale smarter.
Could your brand message use some more of your personality? Read my article “Your Business is Unique, So Why’s Your Brand Generic?!” and learn how to avoid the ‘generic brand trap’ that most service businesses fall into