Identify your ideal target audiences to unlock new growth

Whether you’re launching a new venture or looking to scale an existing offer, it is crucial to know who your target audience is.
Adelynne Chao

Knowing and deeply understanding the customers you’re speaking to can make a drastic difference in the relevance of your comms, and your ability to address your buyers’ key concerns. In this post we outline a 5 step evidence-based approach to unlocking new growth through identifying the key target audiences for your proposition.

Who is your target audience?

This question comes up time and again because whether you’re a startup or a multinational corporation there is always room for growth. Your target audience on day one can change, evolve or expand over time along with your company’s offering. Brands often need to navigate the fine line between being clear on what they stand for, without alienating a cohort of potential high value buyers. The key to getting this right starts with identifying which audiences are most likely to find value in your offer - and then tuning into their mindset to facilitate their choice in your brand. You need to identify where customers see your value, and then deliver a buying experience that conveys this value really well.

Step 1: Understand what value you bring to your current customers

What problems are you solving in customers lives? What are the Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) that customers have that attracted them to your product? A Job to Be Done is the real reason a customer enters a buying moment - read more about JTBD here. The better you are at solving a customers’ Job vs. competitors the easier it will be to build loyalty and stickiness.

This is not about your product’s main features or technical specifications. Identify the value of your solutions from a customers’ perspective. This requires an open and unbiased conversation that explores the customers’ world. It means asking ‘why’ and getting down to the root of things. Remember a customers’ first answer about why they bought something is often not the full truth - it’s the post rationalisation. The real drivers of customer behaviour lie many layers deeper, and it takes a skillful moderator to uncover them.

This step is all about finding out which Jobs to Be Done your product solves, defining the value you bring to customers’ lives and figuring out where your competitive strengths lie.

A classic example of this is explained in McDonald’s investigation into it’s 10am spike in milkshake orders. The discovery that commuters saw value in the milkshake as an easy one-handed and filling breakfast substitute demonstrated that customer value can differ to what a brand believes their products stand for.

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Step 2: Identify the ‘Jobs’ that drive customer acquisition vs. retention

The reason a customer takes action to buy or switch to you can be different to the reasons they then stay with you.

When speaking to your current customers, you must understand what specific benefits attracted them to consider your offer, and which swayed them in your favour over the competition. These are the Jobs to Be Done that will drive new customers to your brand. This is the focus if you want to scale.

At the same time it is key to understand what keeps customers in the same place. Why don’t they switch away from what they’re doing now? These benefits of your offer are the ones that encourage retention, they keep customers subscribed or coming back again and again. These Jobs are not necessarily the focus for your acquisition strategy, but are critical elements for customer onboarding and user experience.

For example, in our work with sustainable brands we’ve found that the trigger for a customers’ buying journey is often not related to the Job of ‘being sustainable’ but more about the problems that customer is facing - e.g. the journey to a sustainable skincare brand often starts with a problem related to skincare rather than sustainability. However, the sustainability and ethics of a brand are critical in driving brand engagement and retention. Read more about sustainability in our insight drop here.

Step 3: Find out which audience segments are most likely to have the Job to Be Done you are best at solving

At this point you know why customers are driven to enter a buying moment in your market, and exactly why they ended up choosing your offer over competitors. You have identified the key Jobs to Be Done that attracted a customer to your solution. So the question now is, who out there in the wider market is most likely to have the same needs?

Audience segmentation can be valuable at this point to narrow down audiences in terms of their key characteristics or demographics. For example, is the key need or JTBD that you solve most common among large international businesses? HR managers? Consumers in urban areas? People over 55 years old? You can use a combination of qualitative and quantitative research techniques to get to the bottom of this.

Step 4: Launch a new campaign targeting these audiences and their key Jobs to Be Done

Once you have identified the key audience segments and JTBD that your offer best serves, it is time to write the creative brief for your advertising or creative agencies. A key part of this brief involves communicating and making use of the insights from earlier stages to guide key messaging - especially tapping into the emotional drivers of a customers’ buying decision.

A new campaign must effectively capture the attention of your key audiences by speaking in their language, about their struggles and exactly how your proposition helps to solve them. The insights will make a huge difference to the effectiveness of your campaign in its ability to resonate with its intended audiences.

Glossier is a great example of a challenger beauty brand that shot to success through its targeted influencer-led campaigns - they knew their audience and spoke to their specific underserved Jobs to Be Done, starting with the beauty trend of achieving fuller looking brows.

Step 5: Unlock growth by identifying the JTBD that you aren’t currently solving for

Unlock new avenues for growth by identifying the underserved Jobs of your specific target audiences. Each of these represent opportunities for new ventures, product development, product bundling or messaging that speaks to a currently underserved need. By understanding the broader range of Jobs a customer is trying to solve you can build end-to-end solutions for them.

E-commerce payments provider, Stripe, is a great example of product development and growth using this method. It’s about moving away from communicating only in terms of product features and details, towards speaking the customers’ language and communicating in terms of the problems you solve in their world. This is becoming a hallmark strategy for challenger brands coming in to disrupt the incumbents and long-standing ways of doing things.

The 5 steps we’ve outlined highlight the benefits of a customer-led approach to growth strategy.

Taking an evidence-based framework, and understanding the deeper psychology behind customer behaviour can uncover game-changing insights that will transform your product and marketing strategies.

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Untold is a marketing & growth consultancy specialising in customer-led growth strategies.

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