In childhood, we exhibit an innate understanding of target audiences by asking one parent for a treat, knowing the other will refuse. We choose the one most likely to say yes because it’s the easiest way to get to the end goal.
Though this example is simple, the process of pinpointing a target audience applies to every type of business, even personal brands.
In this chapter, we show you the entire process of identifying your audience. We’ll discuss both foundational principles and more advanced techniques, ensuring that your effort is directed toward the right people.
Building Relationships: Give A Lot To Get A Lot
We asked Yaro Starak of Entrepreneurs-Journey.com the following question:
If you were building an online presence from scratch today, what 3 things would you consider to provide the biggest ROI on your time and money?
“I’d first focus on establishing a crystal-clear empathy with the audience I was planning to serve, so I know what their problem is, how they feel about it and what they currently do to try and solve it. The best way to learn this in my experience is in person, over the phone or a distant third is via monitoring discussions in groups, blog comments, forums and social media.
If I don’t do this step well, I won’t have an audience or make any sales down the line, so it’s the vital first step for ROI.”
Yaro’s other two points were crafting a clear offer and funneling traffic to the offer, continuously working to improve conversions over time.
But before you can do that, you need to understand your audience.
We’re not the first to say this, either. Studies have shown that human connection is essential for well-being and happiness, proving that without people, even vast wealth does not equal contentment.
The age-old adage, “You Get What You Give,” rings true in both personal and professional relationships. While it’s natural to prioritize ourselves and our families, it’s crucial to offer support and value to those we wish to connect with.
The Person that Pays You
There are basically three people that fit into your personal brand’s target audience:
- The person that pays you
- The person that influences the person that pays you
- Your supporters
The first person on the list, the one that pays you, is your main focus. This might be your current boss or your next boss. It might be the target customer of your current business or your next business. It could also be an investor or a bank.
Over time and a your situation changes, the person that pays you may change. If that happens, you can follow the same steps outline below.
Step One: Identify The Person That Pays You
(Boss, Investor, Client, etc.)
In Chapter 1 you laid out a path to your ultimate career goal. There are steps along the way to help you achieve that goal and along that path there will be people that will determine if and when you can take it to the next level.
If you’re looking to reach an executive level with a company then the person that decides how you move up in the business is each of your bosses along the way. For example, you might start as a sales associate.
Your target audience is your immediate superior or the lead your sales team or division.
Identify the person that is in charge of the next step in your career. It might be an investor. It might be a client. Or it could be the boss we just mentioned. It could be a specific person that you have in mind or it could be the vision of a person. Whatever it is, identify that person and move to the next step.
Step Two: Create A Complete Description
Next, create a complete description of the person. Marketers and business leaders do this all the time with their customers. They put comprehensive descriptions together of their target customers to create detailed, vivid images of the exact person their employees will think about when making every decision in the business. Now, you will do the same with your target audience.
Open a document and start writing the description. Include things like:
- Job Description
Go into extreme detail. Talk about the daily tasks the person does at their job. Talk about they do on the weekends with their family and friends. The more details you can include the easier it will be for you to target this person as you implement your personal brand strategy. Go as far as including a photo of the person. If it’s a real person, find their photo. If it’s not a real person, find a photo online that fits your vision and include it in the profile.
Step Three: Understand Their Motivations
(Professional And Personal)
As you build the profile of your target audience you’ll get inside their head and figure out their motivations. This is important because, as we said earlier, when you know what this person’s motivations are you can help them achieve their goals as a way to achieve your own goals (you get what you give).
For example, if your target audience is your current boss, the sales team leader. Their motivation might be two-fold: 1) move up to the next position in the business, which is probably regional sales manager or a similar position and 2) more free time to spend with his or her growing family.
Knowing these motivations, you can help your boss achieve his or her goals. You can lead new initiatives to increase sales across the team. You can improve the efficiencies of processes to cut down on time spent in the office.
Another example, your target audience is your next new client. Your client’s motivation is to grow their business, which means more sales and more profit. If you can help your client achieve those goals they’ll be happy to pay you for your products and services, which helps you achieve your goals (you get what you give).
Identify the motivations of your target audience and from there you can identify your opportunities to help them and improve your position on the way to your ultimate goal.
Step Four: Identify Potential Opportunities
Once you know what motivates your target audience it’s time to formulate ways to help them achieve their goals, thus helping yourself achieve your own goals. You can do this on your own, but another way to find opportunities is to go to your target audience and have a conversation with them.
For example, if you’re on the sales team and you want to help your boss, the sales team leader, achieve a sales goal, go to him or her and discuss what the goals are. Discuss ways that the team has succeeded in the past. Ask about any ideas the team has had recently for increasing sales. This conversation will bring opportunities to light and you’ll know exactly what you can work on to achieve results.
To get even more targeted, you could consider market segmentation strategies.
Step Five: Create A Game Plan
Next, leave the meeting and put together a game plan for taking the opportunities and achieving results. Look at the way others have done things before you. There is no reason to start from scratch. Look for examples within your company. Look for examples outside your company. Take the things others have done to achieve results. See if there is room for any improvements. Then start taking each step to achieve the desired results.
Once you’ve achieved the results you can go back to your boss and discuss the specific steps you made to help the team and to help him or her. This kind of specific improvement in your professional career is what will lead to you moving up and achieving your ultimate goal.
The Person That Influences The Person That Pays You
When building your personal brand, the key point is that you should have a set of 10 to 20 influencers that you are targeting in order to extend the reach of your content and personal brand.
Amanda Maksymiw (@AmandaMaks), Content Marketing Institute
The number one person that you’re targeting with your personal brand is the person that will pay you: employer, investor, client, etc. However, that’s not the only person in your target audience. The second person on your target audience list is the person that influences the person that pays you.
Influencers include any person that holds another person’s attention in some way. It might be a business partner. It might be an industry writer or an industry speaker. It could be a mentor, client or vendor. These people hold attention and influence the decisions that your number one target audience makes. And that’s why you need to pay attention to the influencers. If you can earn their trust, their approval then you can win them over and they can influence the person that will pay you.
We asked Pat Flynn the following question:
If you were building an online presence from scratch today, what 3 things would you consider to provide the biggest ROI on your time and money?
His response included a note about influencers:
- Free content that is obviously worth paying for.
- A product or software of my own that would serve my target audience by providing a solution to a very specific need.
- Free, higher-level help to influencers in the industry to start to build those important relationships.
Here are the steps to follow to identify the influencers and win their approval.
Step One: Identify The Influencer
There are a few ways to figure out the people that influence the person that pays you.
First, look at the social media profiles of your target. If it’s a real person you can look at theirs and if it’s not a real person you can identify a handful of people that fit your description and look at their social media profiles. You’re looking at the people this person is following or connected with. Twitter is a great indicator for this especially if your target is active on Twitter. The people they follow are people that occupy their attention. Also look at connections on LinkedIn. These two social networks are usually the two most commonly used by professionals.
Next, look for online publications that have readership demographics that match your target from the first section. Professionals usually have industry magazines and websites that they follow and subscribe to. The writers on these sites hold great influence over your target, but also pay attention to the people included in the articles. Industry publications often contain quotes, interviews and mentions of people in the industry including business owners, managers, consultants and others. These could also be influencers of your main target.
Step Two: Create Descriptions
Create a description of each person that influences your target. Make a description for each of the important connections on social media as well as the people involved in the publications. These descriptions, like the ones in the first section, will help you to better understand who these people are and how you can earn their trust and get them to mention you when talking to your target.
Step Three: Create A Contact Plan
Once you understand who the influencers are and where they are online you can put together your contact plan. This will be your way to connect with the influencer and help them with the things that motivate them.
The basics would include connecting on social media like LinkedIn and Twitter. It also includes following any blogs the people write or contribute to. Follow the blogs, comment on the articles and make yourself visible to the influencer.
The next step is to get more aggressive with the way you reach out to make connections with influencers. Now you’ll start using contact forms and emails to reach out and connect. You’re looking to build a relationship with the influencers so you can be top of mind when they’re influencing the person that you want to pay you.
Think back to the motivations discussion in the earlier section. You need to figure out what motivates these influencers. If their business peers of your target then find out what would help them make more sales. If they’re vendors then figure out how to help them get more clients or figure out how to help them improve their standing with your target. If they’re writers then figure out how to help them get more pageviews. When you know what motivates people, you have a better chance of making a connection.
In my Amazing Career Project coaching program and in my client work, I’m fortunate to witness first-hand hundreds of dreams and visions being birthed into the world – new products and services, new businesses launching, new books and films under development, new methods for teaching, leading, and educating, and more. There is so much creativity and innovation today in our world—it’s inspiring.
I’ve also seen many new inventions and ideas die on the vine without the proper support, encouragement and feedback. The most important form of support that keeps an idea going and brings it into being is your support network—your “ambassadors”—people who believe in you without reservation and spread the word about the value and importance of your endeavors, and open crucial doors for you.
Kathy Caprino (@KathyCaprino), Forbes
Finally, we have to remember your support team. These are the people that support you in your effort to move through your professional plan to achieve your brand vision. Supporters can include family members, friends, colleagues, co-workers, mentors and anybody that can offer support as you work your way to your vision.
The team is important because you can believe in yourself, but it’s good to have people providing reassurance when you get frustrated. It’s good to have people there to tell you the truth if they see something in your effort that they feel could be better. You’re only one person and without supporters, you won’t have all the tools necessary to achieve your goals.
Step One: Identify Your Support Team
The first step is to simply identify your support team. We just mentioned some of the potential people that can make up your support team. Reach out to a select few that you trust the most. You want these people to be both support, but honest when dealing with you. You don’t want a group of “yes” people that only agree with what you’re doing and what you think is best. You want people that will challenge you and push you to be your best.
Chances are good that most of the people you reach out to will be open to your professional goals and they’ll be willing to help you. Let them know that it will require conversations and feedback on their part and that it will last for a long time. Most will agree, but don’t be offended if not everybody agrees to help.
Step Two: Let Them Know Your Goals
Next, once you have a handful of people on your support team you tell them what your goals are. These are the goals you established in the first chapter of this guide. Share your plan with your support team so they can see your vision. Ask them for feedback on your goals. Some might question parts of your plan and that’s good. The purpose of the team is to challenge you and to provide different perspectives on what you’re trying to accomplish.
Step Three: Provide Regular Updates
Next, setup regular updates with your support team. Monthly might be good for those closest to you, but it might be much for those that are less close. In general, quarterly or even every six months is good to keep your supporters updated.
You want to tell them how your progress is going. Tell them the specific things you’re working on and how it’s going to contribute to achieving your professional goals. They’ll give you feedback and encouragement, which will be important because you’ll run into setbacks along the way and knowing that you have people supporting you is great.
The updates will also keep you motivated. People can be motivated on their own to do well and you probably are, but it’s good to feel like you have other people watching you. This gives you an added benefit to keep moving forward, to keep working on those projects to make each step along the way.
Consider Hiring a Branding Agency
If you’re struggling, branding agencies help hundreds of businesses and personal brands identify, refine, and understand their audience every day. While each has their own discovery process, they’re pros at getting to the heart of what you want to do, who you want to help, and why.
There are thousands of branding partners out there, tackling an incredible range of branding projects from reimaging enterprise solutions to helping startups identify where they fit in the market.
Not sure which one to go with? Check out our favorite branding agencies – there, we list our favorites and show you how to pick the best one for you.
Give Back To Your Supporters By Asking Questions
It’s not a one-way street with your support team. People want to help you, but to get the most out of the relationship you’ll need to reciprocate the efforts for them. They might also have goals for their professional life and you can work together to help each other reach those goals. You can be each other’s support team. You can offer advice, criticism and challenge each other.
Another common thing that professionals are doing today is setting up their own groups or boards. It might be a group of startup entrepreneurs that meet every quarter even if it’s a Google Hangout or something where they go over the important aspects of each other’s businesses. They check-in with other and report on progress, but they also ask questions and get opinions on strategy.
It’s a real help for professionals because you get input from successful people on what you’re doing and it also keeps you motivated because you want to do well each time you check-in with your group.