Are You Connecting with Your Audience? Some Tips for Effectively Staying in the Know

You can have the best business in the world, but if you don’t know your audience, you’ll have a tough time sticking around. “Knowing” is the golden rule—it’s the only way you can succeed in a customer-first world. But how can you genuinely know who you’re trying to reach? Customer motivations need to be understood so you can custom tailor an experience around them to meet their needs.

Here are a few strategies to get to know your key demographic better, and it all starts by defining who they are:

Send Out Surveys & Polls

Odds are that most of your audience is using social media and email. People love to take polls online, so make something fun and give them an incentive to take it (maybe a prize, shout out, discount, etc.). It’s even better to offer surveys—while they might not be as open to taking a survey, it will give you a ton of in-depth info about them. You can set up simple custom surveys and polls using Survey Monkey or similar sites. With these tools, you can listen to exactly what customers have to say and find out more about them personally. Think hard about what you want to learn about them when writing questions for your custom survey. This might be your only chance to glean this much about your audience, so treat it that way.

Dive a Little Deeper

Now that you’ve collected all this info, it’s time to put it all together and figure out just what the heck your average customer truly looks like. On average, how old are they? Are they mostly male or female? Are they middle or upper class? What do they do outside of work? What’re their shopping habits? Their interests? Their dreams? With this info on-hand, you’ll need to build an image of the average customer for reference—especially as you develop your brand.

Once you know your target demographic to their core, you can know how and where to reach them. If your audience is younger and primarily uses Twitter, responding highly to video content, you’d be better off focusing resources there, instead of pouring heavily into Facebook targeted ads for older demographics. You still want to find a balance, not neglect one group over the other (however, the stronger majority should pull focus). It’ll be more effective for your brand and for a continued relationship with your customers.

Take a Look at the Industry

A place you might forget to look: the audience of your competitors. If they’re in the same industry, their audience will look very similar. Of course, you could be in a slightly different niche and that can differentiate your audience from theirs, but it’s never a bad idea to analyze their demographics if you’re just getting started as a business or establishing your brand. That said, do not study your competition’s way of business. This leads mimicry, and could inevitably lead to failure. Instead, simply find out who is  heavily invested in your industry—those customers are yours for the taking when your competition lets them down. If you’ve been doing it right and improving where they couldn’t, you may just succeed in grabbing some of their old market.

Build Your Future Around the Customer

Now that you know your audience inside and out, every future campaign, product or content piece needs to be built around them. If you stray from what you know, you could risk a disconnect and lose long-term or potential customers. On the other hand, if you stay true to the demographic, they’ll value you as a company and feel like more than just an average customer. A sturdy, trustworthy relationship between company and audience leads to growth for your business, both internally and by reputation. But you must keep innovation as a motivator, too.

As you innovate, keep a close eye on your audience. They’ll take notice of your attention to detail, and they’ll appreciate that you aren’t just playing it safe. As you improve and revolutionize your product (and their experience), they’ll cherish it more and spread word-of-mouth to others. Remember, just because you know the audience initially doesn’t mean that they’ll stay that way forever. Just as your industry will change, the audience will too. Mold your growth, or other brands will steal your beloved customers as the market transforms. If you can develop as they do, you’ll establish a long, reliable partnership that can last a lifetime.