So you got your big business idea. You’re ready to start the business, and this will be the year for you. You’ll no longer make delays.

But what’s the first step you should take after identifying your business idea? You have to determine your target audience and find out what they expect from a business like the one you intend to start.

Let’s say you plan to become a copywriter. Who will you target with your skills? You’ll focus on freelancing platforms or writing services that require the specific capacity that you can offer. It’s crucial for you to understand the needs of these clients, so you can make an offer that they can’t refuse.

Understanding the target audience is even more important when you’re selling products to a wider range of customers. In that case, you’ll face a huge competition of similar brands offering similar products. When you offer the exact thing that your potential users require, you’ll get their attention.

So how do you understand the audience? We’ll list 5 important tips to get you where you’re headed.

1.Define Who Your Customer Is?

Before you even make the business plan, you should define your customer persona. This is an imaginary person with generalized characteristics, which you’ll draw from the behavior of your audience. There are few aspects to analyze when you want to define this customer persona:

The demographics of your audience. If you’re selling products or services, you need to know the gender, occupation, income, age, geographic location, and family status of the target persona. That serves as a starting point.

The needs of your audience. What are the average interests of your audience? Mark Gore, a marketing expert from CareersBooster, explains: “When we started our resume writing business, we identified specific needs that our target audience has. These are people looking for jobs, so they are interested in online courses, skill training, and personal development. We tailored a marketing message suitable for the needs of our customer persona.”

Preferred channels. Where will you find your average customer? Do they like to use social media? If so, what platform do they gravitate to?

2. Question Your Assumptions

Before you start analyzing your audience, you’ll make assumptions. You’ve researched the industry before you started, so you clearly know something about this audience. But be careful; those assumptions can be wrong!

Let’s say that the founder of a service like ResumesPlanet assumes that their target market is fresh graduates. They are the ones who most commonly search for jobs and need help with writing, so they will use a resume writing service like this one. But what happens with middle-aged men and women? What happens with students searching for internships? If the team limits the message to a very narrow part of their base of customers, they will miss many opportunities. That’s why it’s important for them to do their research in order to test and verify any assumptions they make.

How can you do this?

Check online forums. What are the most common questions your audience has about a business like yours? Search through relevant feeds on Quora and Reddit. You’ll find out tons of details about your target audience when you do that.  

Monitor discussions on social media. Get into relevant Facebook groups and pay attention to the members. Check their profiles and you’ll easily find out more about their interests.

3. Research Your Competitors

This is an alternative way of finding more about your audience. Before you start offering your products and services, it’s possible to understand how your audience would react to them if you simply look at your competitors.

What’s their marketing message? How does the audience respond to it? How do they criticize the brand? What do they praise it for?

You can research your competitors even if you’re a freelance writer, graphic designer, or a freelancer of any other type. When you make a profile on Upwork, for example, you’ll have access to the profiles of other freelancers. There, you can see the feedback of their clients. Pay attention to specific points, such as timely delivery, quality of work, and communication skills. Through this feedback, you’ll understand what your target clients need.

And if you start an actual brand in any industry, just list your greatest competitors. Then, analyze their marketing campaign and the social proof they get.

4. When You Start the Business, Use a Social Listening Tool

Do you like gossip? Maybe you don’t, but you surely want to know what other people talk about you, right? In the world of business, this is not called gossip. It’s called social proof, and you need to keep track of it.

Whenever someone mentions your brand in the online world, other people will listen. You need to listen, too. Is your brand mentioned in a positive or negative connotation? What can you learn from that feedback? How can you improve your marketing campaign or even the product to respond to that feedback?

Brand24 is a great tool that you can use for social monitoring. Whenever your brand is mentioned online, you’ll get notified and you’ll be able to see those conversations. This is an essential step towards understanding your audience.

5. Conduct Surveys

This is another thing you can do after you start the business. You can send out surveys to the people who subscribed to your email list. Of course, you need to motivate them somehow, so announce a discount code that they will get after they answer your question.

You can use SurveyMonkey to craft and launch a great survey. But make sure it’s short! You don’t want to waste people’s time. 5-10 questions are enough.

If you’re a freelancer, you can still survey your clients. Just ask them direct questions when you communicate.

  • What would you want me to improve in my work?
  • What do you like most about my work?
  • Can you give me any tips on how to improve?

Your clients and customers want you to do better. That’s how they get better products and services. So don’t shy away from surveys!

It’s All about the Audience

Your business is not about you selling more; it’s about the audience getting more. When you approach it that way, you’ll be more successful. So find out as many details as possible about your audience, and do your best to make them happy.

Sarah Contreras

The author holds a bachelor's degree in Communication with expertise in certain fields like media and marketing. She currently works as a web content contributor for ANC Delivers, one of the fastest fleet home and corporate delivery services in Australia.