Simply put, If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one.
Every single communication must have a target audience. Often small business owners try to be everything to everybody, which dilutes your branding efforts.
The best way to ensure you’re keeping your focus on one ideal customer is to create a customer persona. I always encourage my brand coaching clients to name the persona and assign specific attributes and behaviors to this person.
Where to Start
Start with your core target audience. As a small business owner, you should be solving a problem for your customer(s) in exchange for money. Spend time thinking about the problem your product or service addresses and break it apart to better understand what customers did about this issue before your product/service became available, how this problem affects them on a deep level and the specifics on who has this particular problem.
Once you’ve identified the person or persons who suffer from the problem your business solves, spend time understanding everything you can about these individuals. Think about what motivates them, how they think, what philanthropic causes they’re interested in, and what organizations they support.
Look for two-three individuals who fit this analysis to a tee. Spend time talking with them, watching them in action, and supporting them (for tips read how to be your client’s biggest fan).
After learning what motivates, frustrates, and excites these individuals, look for commonalities among them. These could include familial status (married, single, mother/father, caregiver), where they work, eat, and play, and other lifestyle attributes (have pets, likes to exercise, run marathons).
Now comes the fun part, considering all that you learned during this exploratory activity. Give your persona a name specific to their gender identity, race, and income. Search for images that fit your persona’s characteristics to really bring your target audience to life. You can repeat this activity if your product/service has multiple applications (used to solve more than problems.
Crafting your brand’s communications
Imagine using a tin can and string to communicate with one person only. Remember that this will be static (noise), distractions (competition), and the person’s ear will get tired, so get to the point.
It may even be helpful to bounce your branding messages off of a trusted advisor who fits many of the identified attributes. Ask them what is missing and what value-enhancing solutions you could add to make the offering more attractive.
Words of caution – Take LOTS of note of these recommendations, but don’t rush to implement them until you have empirical evidence that other like-minded individuals want or find this aspect attractive. To help you keep track of your ideal customers in an effort to build the perfect persona, use this handy spreadsheet I created for you. (Be sure to “Save As” before editing so that you have your very own copy to manipulate.)