5 Ways to Understand your Target Audience’s Needs
Jun 15, 2020 / By Sydney Anderson
I’d like to tell you a story about a company that came to us at a time when it was struggling to understand its target audience’s needs. The travel technology company had been in business for several years and signed several test clients. But the company was challenged to expand past that initial wave of first customers; it knew what value its products created, but couldn’t articulate how its different solutions pertained to each of the roles they were marketing and selling to.The company (I’ll call them Company X) used the same message to different audiences and was getting nowhere, fast. Cue the experts.
Their challenge -- being unable to communicate product value, but even more importantly, what problems their products and solutions solved for different buyers -- was by no means unique to them. The lack of well-developed buyer personas is so pervasive among many companies that it’s the starting point for our communications strategies.
Because if you don’t know who you’re selling to, and I don’t just mean a list of prospect companies, but the different buyers that are responsible for influencing and championing decisions within a company, how can your marketing team or marketing partners develop B2B content, communications plans, or effective PR strategies?
Company X’s story ends happily; we were able to break down the needs of different audiences and buyers that had direct and indirect influences on purchasing decisions, and developed content and PR strategies with messaging that would appeal to each. And those have served company X well, until today.
BUT IT’S A DIFFERENT BUSINESS LANDSCAPE NOW
Our business environment is radically different today. But that’s also an opportunity to match it.
Since in-person connections are off the table for now thanks to COVID-19, updating your B2B messaging and revisiting your digital strategy are crucial to connecting with potential buyers. Finding leads at a conference to showcase your latest travel tech or fintech solution is no longer an option. Nor will it be for a while.
With most marketers or companies scrambling or unsure of what their target audience’s needs are, I wanted to offer some insight into how ThinkInk, as a B2B marketing agency, goes about helping our clients dissect the needs of their target audiences.
HOW TO IDENTIFY AND UNDERSTAND TARGET AUDIENCE NEEDS IN 5 STEPS
- Develop Buyer Personas
- Delve into Customer Data
- Perform Social Media Research
- Read Industry Publications
- Conduct Surveys
1. DEVELOP BUYER PERSONAS
Think your company doesn’t need buyer personas because you’re in a niche B2B tech-focused industry? Think again.
Buyer personas are crucial to understanding your audience – and its nuances. Your buyer personas hold key information like traits, buying behaviors, demographics, and more.
The exercise of digging into this data will give you a major leg-up when it comes to relating your products to your audience(s).
You already know that your airline pricing solution or retail loyalty platform is the best in class. Now use this, aka your market solutions, plus insights gained on pain points and buying behaviors, and use that to your advantage.
Implementing these strategies help you show your company’s or product’s value to your potential buyers. And with this, you will see your discovery calls and targeted ads experience a boost in conversions simply because you’re showing value to an audience that identifies with it.
To recap: Your target audience’s pain points + your solution(s) = your company’s value.
2. DELVE INTO CUSTOMER DATA
Business growth doesn’t just mean finding new leads, which is even more challenging today. It’s building up and nurturing your current customer base as well.
And your customers already have the data you’re looking for. You just have to “listen.”
But since many companies won’t outrightly say if there is a problem, or there could be a disconnect between your client contact and the user of the platform, getting that data can be hard.
Try to find ways to get anonymous feedback, whether through online means or a third-party interview provider. Then identify your customers’ praises and critiques, and take them to heart.
Do you see patterns or trends? It’s probably time to address them, good, bad, or otherwise.
The better you hear and serve current customers, the more likely you are to attract new customers as you’ll have a much better understanding of their needs.
3. PERFORM SOCIAL MEDIA RESEARCH
Yep, we’re about to get just a little creepy here. A lot of what you may be looking for could be closer than you think.
Social media platforms like LinkedIn are a wealth of knowledge on trends and prospect data you may want. What articles are C-Suite execs in aviation interacting with? What posts are VP of Sales in retail sharing? What kind of conversations do your buyer personas want to be a part of?
The answers to these questions can be huge insights into what drives your target audience. And you guessed it, that means increased sales. Use it, especially because your competitors probably already do.
4. READ INDUSTRY PUBLICATIONS
There is so much knowledge to be gained by even just skimming headlines in industry publications (and no, I’m not just saying that because we publish in quite a few of them 😉).
Trade publications report on emerging buying trends, industry challenges, and stand out companies and their strategies. Follow those trends in the markets you’re trying to break into, and you’ll gain a much deeper understanding of the challenges your potential buyers are facing – and how you can help them.
And be sure to continually keep up with these publications, as buyers and their habits are always changing – especially in the current climate.
5. CONDUCT SURVEYS
Sometimes, the answer to understanding your target audience is less complex than you think. Conduct a survey asking current and potential clients for their opinions about areas of their business you‘d like to know.
Unsure how a new travel pricing comparison app may go over with the Head of Marketing? Ask them. Need more insight into how your new purchasing platform compares in their eyes? Request their feedback.
You can conduct small surveys regularly to keep a pulse on what’s keeping your buyers up at night, or conduct more traditional surveys once or twice a year.
Bonus: Take your surveys to LinkedIn or to industry association sites to build the sample size. Who knows, you may just tap into a new market you never even knew existed.
There’s no denying that the above steps will take time. That’s why working with a specialist communications partner who can help you through each of these areas will fast-track your ability to understand target audiences and their needs today.
Don’t miss a beat in your B2B marketing strategy. Schedule your strategy review to learn where you may be missing opportunities to get in front of target audiences and buyers.
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