If you’ve done all the work in this report up to this point, congratulations! You have a clearly defined target market, and you’ve got a clear, accurate description of your one ideal customer.
But there’s still one important piece you’re missing: now that you have your target market, what do you do with it?
Your target market is the compass for your business: everything you do in your business will ultimately come back to your ideal customer. From your products and services to your branding and marketing, keeping your customer the priority is the surest path to business success.
So let’s look at some of the ways your ideal customer will take center stage as your business develops and grows.
This goes back to how an audience-centric business model is different from a traditional product-centric model, which we discussed in Chapter 1. Now that you know who your target market is, it should be clear how much easier it is to create products that address your customer’s needs, instead of trying to find an audience for a pre-existing offering.
Here are a few of the ways you can use your target market to come up with new ideas for products and services you can sell:
Here’s a great example of how your audience defines the nature of your products and services. Back in the early days of Mirasee (we were called Firepole Marketing then), we tried to come up with a paid program specifically for our audience… but failed the first time around.
Our initial program was called (ironically enough) “Marketing That Works,” and it flopped miserably. We didn’t listen to our readership, and rushed to create something that wasn’t a must-have for our audience. Predictably, very few people became paying customers, and we had to abandon the program.
But then our second paid program came along. It was a huge hit that generated over $100,000 in sales. The best part is, it had precious little to do with marketing! It was a blogging course called “Write Like Freddy,” and our audience loved it, as we knew they would.
So what was the key difference between the embarrassing flop that was “Marketing That Works” and the runaway success of “Write Like Freddy”? Simple: second time around, we listened to our readers, and came up with the exact program they have been asking for.
You see, Danny Iny, our founder, wrote a staggering 80+ guest posts in his first year of running Firepole, to promote the company and get the word out. And people noticed—he got bombarded by emails from readers, all asking the same thing, “How can you put out so much great content so quickly? You’re like Freddy Kruger. Wherever I look, you’re there!”
The nickname “Freddy Kruger of Blogging” stuck, and Danny developed his “Write Like Freddy” program after a quick email survey and a pilot launch to validate the idea.
Another key way that your target market shapes your business is in your positioning and marketing. These have to do with the way you brand yourself, how you compare yourself to similar businesses, and the language you use to describe your products. Let’s examine each of these in a little more detail, and look at how your target market will shape them.
Positioning refers to your place in the market. As you position your business, you’ll look at your competition—other businesses who are solving similar problems—and you’ll look for a unique way you can address the problem.
In order to do this, you’ll need to view your business—and your competitors—the way your ideal customer sees them. You’ll look at businesses similar to yours and ask:
You’ll answer these questions from the perspective of your ideal customer. This will give you a clear sense of which of your competitors are actually for someone quite different from your target customer (and therefore aren’t really competitors), and which are solving problems that your ideal customer doesn’t really have. As you look at what’s available from the perspective of your ideal customer, you’ll see opportunities you might have otherwise missed.
Even after you’ve clarified the problem your business will solve, your target market will be important as you consider your branding and marketing. You’ll need to use colors, images and language that resonates for your ideal customer, so every marketing decision you make, from your website branding to the language you use on your sales pages, should be made with your ideal customer in mind.
You’ll also go back to your interviews (and probably do more interviews), so you can use your ideal customer’s own words to describe the problems he has and the solutions he’s looking for as you create your marketing language.
Finally, neither your business nor your target market will ever be set in stone. You might discover that the problem you thought you could best solve for your target market isn’t the one that your customer really wants solved right now. Or you might find that the solution you think will work best isn’t as effective as you anticipated. As you develop new products and services for your business, your target market will be the guide that keeps you focused.
Many of today’s great companies started out with less-than-stellar ideas about what type of product or service they should provide to their target market. The reason they became so profitable and influential, while other companies faded into obscurity, was their readiness to iterate and change according to the needs of their customers. These companies were dedicated from the very beginning to provide the best, most suitable solution to what their target market struggled with.
Here’s a perfect example: Airbnb.
Everybody knows this company, and what they do: connect travelers with people who have space to rent. But they didn’t start out this way.
Airbedandbreakfast.com (that’s what it was called back in the day) used to be just a website where people could book a place to crash in San Francisco. Their “accommodation was 3 air mattresses for $80 a night each. And the “added value service” was that you’ll get breakfast, too (hence the name).
Then, the founders changed the central idea of the service to providing accommodation for conference attendees who didn’t want to stay in a hotel. And instead of renting out their own space, they got in touch with owners of other properties.
Soon, Airbnb became the company we all know, helping travelers score unique and affordable accommodations around the world: from village cottages to treehouses, medieval castles, and everything in between.
Airbnb’s founders weren’t afraid to take new directions, if that meant that their target market would be better served. And that’s why they are world’s biggest accommodation provider right now… who don’t even own any!
“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.”
The path to a thriving online business begins with defining your target market: the people who will make up the core of your audience, and whose need will determine the product or service you offer.
If you take the opposite route first, and develop an offering before finding the right people to serve, your business will be in a world of trouble long before it becomes profitable. This “audience first” approach is the best way to ensure that you’ll be working on something people genuinely want.
We hope this guide has given you the know-how and the tools to find your future audience, and become intimately familiar with their biggest struggles and concerns.
Remember: your target market isn’t something you have to settle for once and for all. It’s up to you to redefine and re-discover your perfect audience. They don’t have to conform 100% to everything you’ve decided for yourself.
And at the end of the day, what matters is aligning your strengths with the needs of your audience – and we did our best to help you with that! It’s up to you to take action, and build the business you’ve always wanted.
To learn how to build an Audience Business, check out the Audience Business Masterclass.
To build a course (and make money on it while you create it), check out the Course Builder’s Laboratory.