How to Identify Your Target Audience

Each and every business owner in the world has one regardless of size or industry – a target audience. You may not know what your business’s target audience is, but you have one – you just need to identify it. The term “target audience” means the specific group of people most likely to want to buy your product or service. The basic criteria for your target audience are things like income, interests, age, gender, location, etc. You can use information about your target audience to market specifically to that group of people, therefore increasing the likelihood that your marketing and advertising will be successful.

There are numerous ways to identify your target audience, and we have compiled a list here of the most common ways to help get you on your way.

Analyze Your Current Customer Base

Look at everyone who already buys your product or service and try to identify what they have in common. Where do they live, how much do they make, what interests do they have? Using surveys and doing quick polls on social media is a great way to learn this information.

Conduct Market Research

Do a Google search for market research for your industry to identify the holes in service that your product/service can fill. Find out what common problems consumers in your industry face and identify ways that your product/service can solve them. This process of identifying your audience’s pain points can be invaluable to your business and can help you identify new ways your business can thrive.

Define Who Your Target Audience Isn’t

There may be certain consumers who are close to the demographic you’re looking for but who will not take the final step of purchasing or participating in your product/service. Use some of your market research to help determine who in your target demographic is least likely to do what you’d like them to do, then make sure your marketing and advertising do not target them. For example, your target demographic might be women, but let’s say that women between the ages of 30 and 40 typically don’t buy your product/service. Knowing that you can remove that age group from your target audience and increase the likelihood that your marketing and advertising dollars will reach those most likely to purchase.

Make a List of Your Product’s/Service’s Benefits (not features!)

This is a sort of reverse way of utilizing the pain points identified in your market research. This can help you determine why a consumer would want to purchase your product/service and from there, you can identify the type of consumer that would want to purchase your product/service. For example, if you are a coach, a feature of your coaching class might be that it’s a self-study course, but why should consumers care about that? What benefit is a self-study course to a consumer? Perhaps they need to study on an unusual timetable or maybe they prefer to work on their own rather than in a group.

Think of benefits as the “why should I care” part of a feature. Look at the features your product/service provides, determine why a consumer should care about them (the benefits), then you can find the pain points that are solved with those benefits. Check out this article to learn more about the difference between features and benefits and how you can apply that information in your business.

Use Online Customer Feedback

Once you’ve identified your product’s/service’s benefits (see #4 above) then you can go to online forums and see who is asking questions or is interested in those topics. You can start with popular forums like Quora or Reddit. This can help you to identify the age group, gender, industry, interests, etc. of your target audience and “get a hand on the pulse” of the consumers you’d like to market to. Following the coaching example used above, you could search Reddit for “how to learn [whatever you teach] while working full time”.

Research Your Competitors

If you’re in an industry that has long-term or well-known competitors, it’s a good bet that they already know their (your) audience well. Researching their marketing and response can be a great way to identify your target audience. Look at their website, social media platforms, and reviews of their products/services. Look for the type of people who typically like their posts or give positive reviews, and what types of content get the most response. You can also look at what isn’t working for them and try to identify ways that you can improve on it.

Find Your Niche

Especially if you’re just starting out or if you have a limited budget, it’s important to make your marketing dollars work as effectively as possible. To that end, it can be beneficial to really narrow down your target audience to a small niche group of consumers. Identify the group that has the highest potential to purchase your product/service and only market to them. Doing this can help you to build brand loyalty and develop your company as an expert in your industry.

Final Thoughts

Following these steps is a great start to honing in on your target audience so you can develop your brand messaging and perfect your marketing strategy. Doing this will help to build a solid foundation for your brand going forward.

5 Strategies For Effective Online Networking

Networking is one of the most important ways to invest in the future of your career, but it can also be pretty difficult. Not only do you have to find the right opportunities to network, but you also need to find the courage to speak to the people you want to impress.

The good news for introverts and busy business leaders is that there are various ways you can start networking today without having to attend expensive events and dinners.

Online networking can be an excellent way to build a valuable community, without the stress that typically comes with in-person networking events.

Of course, just like all forms of networking, you’re still going to need an effective strategy. Keep these tips in mind for effective online networking.

Decide Where to Network

Probably the most important part of building a successful online networking strategy is deciding where you’re going to connect with potential peers.

Social media channels like LinkedIn are generally a good place to start, but you can also go further and check out places like Slack groups and forums specifically for your chosen industry. You can also find a lot of great people to connect with on places like Twitter.

Keep your eyes open for digital and virtual events too. Since the start of the pandemic, these are becoming increasingly popular, and they often come with chat rooms and networking spaces where you can reach out to others with shared interests.

Connect with the Right People

As tempting as it might be to build a relationship with influencers or thought leaders, the reality is that it’s important to think carefully about who you reach out to.

Look for industry peers and people who can teach you something.

Connecting with people who already have a strong presence in your industry or a link to the businesses you want to work with can be a good idea too.

Keep an open mind when making your relationships online. You might be surprised to discover who can make a difference in your future career. If someone offers to introduce you to someone they think could help you, take advantage.

Connect with people in your community.

Even if your business is entirely online, people still enjoy supporting businesses in their local community. Use online channels to connect with people who are in your industry AND in your area so you can build up a local presence as well as an online presence. This can also be an effective way to get your foot in the door of a new industry or new business venture.

Network Regularly

When you’re starting out in networking, schedule a few hours every week where you can check out what’s happening on social media, read up on the content shared on your favorite forums, and participate in conversations.

You’ll want to have an active online presence if you want to make those connections count.

Remember to check your news feed on a daily basis when you can, and at the very least try to update your LinkedIn status with a few relevant factoids or links to relevant news stories from your industry.

The more people see you online, the more likely it is they’ll feel connected to you and want to strike up a conversation.

Follow Up Regularly

If you’re going to really grow a successful network online, you need to work harder at making connections than offline. You can’t expect to have the same emotional link to someone online as you do in person, so you’re going to need to speak to the people you meet more often.

Make a habit of regularly getting online and devoting time to following up with the people you’ve already met.

If you’ve already spoken to someone on social media quite a few times and you want to strengthen the relationship, ask them to connect over the phone or meet with you via a video conference.

The more connections you can make, the better.

Be Helpful and Informative

The more you invest in networking, the more you’ll learn that people want to connect with others whom they believe can help them out. The more informative, helpful, and knowledgeable you are, the more valuable you become.

This doesn’t mean you should be constantly asking your contacts if you can do anything for them, but make a concerted effort to share useful information whenever you can.

On LinkedIn, you can write posts where you talk about your experiences in the industry. On forums, you can respond to questions being asked by other people in your space.

It’s also worth looking for ways to be helpful in other ways too, like responding to emails where people ask for your input or getting involved with podcasts and interviews.

Keep Working on It

You won’t always be an instant success when you start networking with your peers. It might take a while for people to respond to you, and some might ignore you completely.

The key to success, as in most things, is to keep working.

Don’t let it get you down if you struggle with building your network initially. Keep focusing on your goals and practicing.

Over time, you’ll learn how to become more effective at building relationships. What’s more, those relationships will help you to achieve your goals in your career.

No List? No Problem! Building a List with Paid Ads

We’ve been told (and told and told) for years that “the money is in the list” and that “your mailing list is your biggest business asset.” But if your list numbers are hovering in the low four-figures, or fewer, with no sign of growth on the horizon, such advice can seem a bit unhelpful. (If you don’t have a list at all, check out this Mailing List 101 to know where to start!) The fact is, building a list is a catch 22: you can’t get sign-ups without traffic and it’s difficult to find traffic when you have no list. You can go in circles for months trying to figure out how to build your list, or you can do it an easier way!

Paid Ads Make Building a List Easy

By strategically placing ads in front of your target audience, you can drive tons of traffic to your opt-in offers and enjoy conversion rates of two or three percent or more. Even better, with some tweaking and split testing of your offers, you can carefully refine your ads and copy so that you’re attracting your exact ideal client and filling your list with buyers who are ready to take action, rather than freebie seekers.

All you need to run paid ads to your opt-in pages is:

  • A compelling offer, such as a video training series or live webinar
  • Copy to grab the attention of your target audience

Best Ad Placements

Once you have your components in place, the only question remaining is where to run your ads. You have dozens of choices, from Twitter to Google to YouTube to solo email spots.

The key to successfully building a list is to first determine where your market is most likely to be hanging out. If they’re on LinkedIn, then running ads on Twitter will be a waste of time. Keep in mind the cost as well. Ads on Facebook are generally less expensive and less competitive than a Google Adwords placement.

Start Small, Then Refine

Once you’ve decided where to place your ads, it’s time to set your budget and begin running a small set of ads. Consider setting a small daily budget, such as $10 or $20 at the beginning, so you can get a feel for how your ads will perform. Watch the traffic, track your conversions, and create split tests of your landing page and ad sets to determine which performs the best. You can refine the audience you’re targeting based on the stats you receive. For example, if you find that men between the ages of 20 and 30 are clicking but not opting in, you might want to remove them from your audience.

At least at first, it’s best to avoid running ads for paid products. Conversions for a free offer will far outshine those to a paid product, especially if your program is expensive. After all, those who are clicking on an ad most likely do not know you at all, so it takes a much bigger leap of faith to offer up a credit card number than it will to provide an email address.

Ad Copy Blunders to Avoid

Have you ever clicked on an ad because you saw an adorable pair of sandals that you just had to have, only to land on a page full of sneakers, with not a sandal in sight? It’s frustrating, to say the least, and that kind of ad-to-landing-page mismatch will kill your conversions.

Your ad copy is making a promise to the reader. If your landing page doesn’t fulfill that promise, your readers will click away, and you’ll have wasted the money you spent to get them there. Before running any ads, be sure your ad headline, image, and copy all match the message on the landing page; use these Sales Page Copy tips to get started.

Final Thoughts

Paid advertising was once a tool used only by big companies or marketers with a lot of money to spare, but today they’re more cost-effective than ever, and technology makes them easy to create and monitor. If you haven’t yet tried your hand at this useful traffic generation method for building your list, it’s time to do some experimenting. You might just find your list numbers – and sales – growing.

Mailing List 101

Your ready to start building your mailing list, or utilizing your existing list, but where do you start? The question that’s on everyone’s mind when they start thinking about mailing lists is usually: “Which service should I use?” You’ve probably wondered yourself, and maybe even spent a few hours (or days, or weeks) researching your options.

Stop!

This is not the question you should be asking (yet), and it’s exactly why so many entrepreneurs get stuck in the planning stage of list building.

The First Step In List Building

Before you need to think about tools, you must ask yourself this: “How can I best serve my market?”

Whether you’re target market are coaching business owners, new moms, bloggers, or youth pastors, they have a need that only you can fulfill. And when you discover what that need is, you’ll have two valuable pieces of information:

  1. What incentive will be a true no-brainer for your ideal client to opt-in to your list?
  2. How can you use your mailing list to provide the best value for those who join your list?

Don’t over-think these questions, though. Your opt-in incentive can be as simple as a resource guide or a short how-to video that answers a common question. You don’t have to go overboard with dozens of downloads and a 100-page eBook. Rather than providing value, these massive downloads are more likely to overwhelm your reader than encourage them to learn more. If you need help building your opt-in incentive, reach out to us here at Steady Radiance Design – we can help!

And when it comes to providing value to your list members, keep three things in mind:

  1. Regular communication is a must (consider an auto-responder series if you’re not good with scheduling email updates).
  2. Marketing should always be second to information—too much selling will cause your opt-out rates to soar.
  3. It’s your responsibility as a thought leader in your market to distill and provide the information, tools and products your audience needs.

Step Two in List Building

Now that you’ve established how you can serve your market, ask yourself: “What is my list-building goal?”

How will you be using your list? Will you:

  • Send a weekly or monthly newsletter?
  • Create an auto-responder series that delivers content on a pre-determined schedule?
  • Use affiliate links as an income generator?
  • Promote your own services and products?

The answers to these questions will help you determine not only the right tool for your list-building needs, but will also determine the path for your ongoing mailing list content, promotions, and growth.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve answered those two questions, you’re ready to research and decide on a mailing service. Make sure whatever service you choose fits into your brand, goals for serving your market, and goals for using your list. Happy mailing!

 

Image from Pixabay.

Getting More Clients by Thinking Like a Farmer

Think all a farmer has to do is wait until fall to harvest truckloads of delicious tomatoes or corn or squash? We all know that’s not how it works. That farmer has worked hard all year long to prepare for that week or two of reward.

He prepared the ground following last year’s harvest. He planted seeds in the spring. He watered and fertilized and protected his fragile crops from pests and drought and poor weather. And finally, after months of work, he enjoys the results.

Your business works the same way, and if you take a page from the farmer’s playbook, you’ll soon be reaping the rewards, too – in the form of getting more clients.

Preparing the Ground

This is your brand, your voice, your very presence in your market. If you’re just starting out—like that farmer after his harvest—you’ll spend your time simply becoming known.

Hang out with other coaches in your niche. Join forums where your ideal clients spend their time. Build a website and start your mailing list (we can help with this part if you need it!) This is the prep work that will form the foundation of a solid business in the future.

Planting the Seeds

Your seeds are your content and products. With each blog post you write, every product you create, you’re planting a seed you can harvest later. But unlike the farmer, your seeds will produce over and over again, endlessly.

In fact, you’ll likely find that blog posts you wrote years ago will continue to bring in new clients year after year, with no further help from you. Products can be sold over and over again or reworked into new offers. Podcasts, videos, ebooks, and more all continue to work for you, getting more clients on your site month after month, year after year.

When you think about it that way, it’s easy to see that planting seeds is a critical part of every business.

Nurturing Your Crop

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just “set it and forget it”? Unfortunately, that style of business rarely works.

Instead, you must spend time nurturing.

  • Stay in touch with your email list
  • Update old blog posts with new ideas
  • Study your stats to improve your traffic and conversions
  • Improve your products

It doesn’t take much effort to update your blog posts or tweak your products, and the rewards can be fantastic.

Of course, being a farmer is a long-term investment. The work you do today may not pay off for weeks or months to come. But with a strong history of consistent “farming” in your business, you’ll soon see that those long-term rewards are paying off, getting more clients to your site consistently.

Lessons Learned: What a Lost Client Really Tells You

We’ve all lost clients. Sometimes it’s our fault. Sometimes it’s theirs. Sometimes it’s out of everyone’s control.

But no matter the reason, there is something to be learned from a lost client. A system to review lost clients will help keep your business improving and growing.

Exit Interview

Typically done when you leave a job, an exit interview is also a great way to review what went right—and what went wrong—during your working relationship with a client. You’ll want to review:

  • What specific advice, service, or tools worked for them
  • What specific advice, service, or tools did not work for them
  • Any personality conflicts
  • Why they decided to move on moving on

This is not the time to get defensive. Be open to their criticism (if there is any) and use the information to genuinely improve your business.

Be Honest With Yourself

One of the most common reasons for client loss is that the customer is simply not a good fit. Maybe you suspected it when they signed up, or maybe not, but now that they have moved on, ask yourself:

  • What signs were there that they were not the right fit?
  • Why did you ignore any signs that were present?
  • How can you use that information to protect yourself from a less-than-ideal client in the future?

If you can identify a bad match from the start and decline the work (or better still, refer them to another colleague who is a good fit) you’ll find you have a lot less stress in your day-to-day business.

Misunderstandings

Sometimes, client loss is as simple as a lack of understanding on your client’s part. Do you clearly state:

  • The schedule of calls/emails
  • The timeline for project completion with milestones
  • Review and feedback process
  • Length of your contract
  • Any other project-specific information that can be easily misunderstood (PRO TIP: if you’re struggling to think of what might be misunderstood by a client, run through the entire “onboarding” process with a close friend or family member. Just remember to remove any personal info about your client if you’re using a real project as a test scenario.)

Do you also have a system for staying in touch with a client who has gone quiet? Sometimes all it takes is a quick phone call, email, or text message to get your wayward client back on track. Many business relationships have been salvaged with a simple phone call or email, so if you haven’t heard from a client in a while, pick up the phone.

Here’s the bottom line: Client loss happens. But if you can learn from each client, and use that intel to improve your business, then even a lost client can be turned into new profits.

Email Subject Lines That Increase Your Open Rates

It’s one metric we consistently watch and try to improve: email open rates. There’s a good reason for it, too. If your subscribers aren’t opening your email, then they can’t read about:

  • Your newest coaching program
  • Your latest must-have tool discovery
  • That epic blog post you just wrote

The trouble is, you only have about two seconds to entice a reader to open your email. Even worse, you have to do it in ten words or less.
Yikes! That’s a pretty tall order, even for seasoned copywriters. But there are some simple tricks you can use with your email subject lines.

Be Ambiguous

If you’ve been on Facebook lately you’ve no doubt seen those “clickbait” headlines that say things like, “She adds this to a box of Wheat Thins and I’m drooling!” The reason headlines like that work is because we can’t help but want to know what “this” is that she’s adding to her Wheat Thins. Is it sugar? Salt? Peanut butter? We imagine the possibilities, but in the end, we have to find out, so we click.
You can employ the same technique in your email subject lines. Just substitute the word “this” for the actual thing you’re writing about, and you’ve got instant enticement.

Use Numbers

Here’s another strategy for creating must-read content: numbers.
“7 Hidden Benefits of Waking Up at 5am”
“3 Unlikely Ways to Close the Sale”
“5 Social Media Platforms You Shouldn’t Be Ignoring”
The reason numbers work so well in subject lines is because we are ego-centric and curious. We simply must know if we already use those three ways to close the sale. We will either walk away feeling good for being a marketing maven, or we will have learned something. Both are compelling reasons to open an email.

Use Power Words

Just as with all writing, choosing power words is far more effective than settling for their weaker counterparts. Imagine these two subject lines appear in your inbox. Which are you more likely to open:
“WordPress Makes Better Looking Websites for Non-Designers”
or
“Create a Gorgeous Website—Even if You’re Not a Designer”
While both subjects offer the same information, the first is weak, while the second is far more compelling.

When it comes to email subjects, there are a few more tips to keep in mind if you want to up your open rates:

  • Keep it short – no more than 10 words at the very most, and fewer if you can.
  • Test everything. Use your autoresponder’s split-testing functionality to see which subject line styles perform best in your market.
  • Use personalization, but sparingly. Occasional use of your reader’s first name can be a powerful technique.

Here’s the bottom line: If your subscribers aren’t opening your email, they’re not buying. Paying closer attention to your email subject lines is the single most important thing you can do for your email marketing campaigns.

Pain Points: What You Must Know About Your Potential Clients

How well do you know your potential clients?
Chances are you’ve developed at least a simple client avatar. You know their business, their age, their income, and education levels. You know where they live and how many kids they have and what their biggest dreams are.
But do you really know what drives them?
We’re not talking about just what they want (we all want more money and free time) but more importantly, you need to know what their biggest pain points are. Figure this out, and you’ll not only be able to better create programs to help them, but your sales copy will dramatically improve as well.

What are Pain Points?

Think about it—if you’re uncomfortable with technology, and once in a DIY mood you destroyed your website during a simple update, then website management becomes a huge pain point for you. Now imagine you find a VA who not only works with WordPress but who calmly shares examples of how they’ve rescued client websites after such disasters.
They’ve clearly addressed your biggest pain point, and you’re sold!
The same is true for your potential clients. Show them you can help them avoid those pain points—or better yet, eliminate them completely—and you’ll forge an instant bond.

How to Identify Pain Points

Now you may already have a good idea of what causes your clients pain, but if not, you have plenty of ways to find out.

  • Talk to them. What do they most often ask or complain about?
  • Listen in on forums, on social media, and other places your audience hangs out. What are they struggling with?
  • Reader surveys. These can be a rich source of information in any market. Pay special attention to the words and phrases your readers use to describe their troubles.
  • Keep an eye on your competition. What pain points are they addressing?

Once you’ve uncovered your ideal client’s biggest pain points, you’ll have a powerful tool that you can use not only in your sales copy, but to also help define your programs and service offerings. If you can help your clients overcome the most painful issues they face—whether it’s a lack of self-confidence or a fear of public speaking—you’ll instantly become a more valuable resource in your niche.
And when you incorporate those same pain points in your sales copy, your conversions will dramatically increase as well.

Copywriting 101: Features vs. Benefits in Sales Copy (And How to Know the Difference)

If there’s one thing that confuses and frustrates new (and even seasoned) copywriters when writing sales copy it’s the not-always-obvious features and benefits. (Are you thinking “I’m not a copywriter, so why should I care?” Trust me, if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably a copywriter.)

For example, say you’re a coach and you want to share all the great things about your new coaching program, so you say things like:

  • 6-week self-study course
  • Includes workbooks and live training
  • Members’ only discounts

While these are all good points, they’re pretty bland. That’s because they’re features, not benefits. They tell us about the program but not why we should buy it.
Benefits, on the other hand, tell us the “so what” of features.
“6-week self-study course.” So what? Why should your reader care?

  • Because they’re busy and need to work on their own schedule, not yours.
  • Because they’ve already studied shorter, less comprehensive courses and need more in-depth information.
  • Because they prefer to learn on their own, not in a group.

“Includes workbooks and live training.” So what? What are the benefits of workbooks and live training?

  • Your student can put what they learn into action with workbooks.
  • They can get their specific questions answered during live training.
  • They can work through complex issues with the help of the group.

As you can see, benefits go much further than simple attributes, such as length and format. They show your prospective client not only what’s in the program, but why the product is exactly right for them, at this specific moment in their life and career.

Use Features and Benefits to Compliment Each Other

Features and benefits work together in sales copy as two halves of a statement, like this:
“6-week self-study course so you can learn at your own pace when it’s convenient for you.”
In fact, this powerful feature/benefit combo is often the basis for the bullet points you see in sales copy, and the format of them makes them easy to write, too.

How to Write the Feature/Benefit Combo

Simply list all the features of your product, then for each one, ask yourself “Why?” Why should the reader care? But don’t stop there. Dig deeper to uncover “the why behind the why” and you’ll soon be crafting truly irresistible sales pages that convert far better than you expect. In the above example, the why behind the why might be, “so you don’t have to spend family time on webinars that have been scheduled to benefit someone else.”
Now not only is your prospective client working at their own pace but they’re also freeing up time to spend with her family. That’s a great benefit they won’t find with most courses.

It’s easy to list all the features of your product or coaching program, but far more difficult to uncover the benefits that will drive sales. When you truly understand the difference though, it will become easier, and your sales will reflect the change in your copy.

7 Surprising Places You’re Using Copywriting (And You Probably Don’t Realize It)

When you hear the word “copywriting” do you immediately think of long sales pages, squeeze pages, and unwanted bulk mail?
You’re not alone in that thinking, but the fact is, copywriting is more than just sales messages. In fact, as an online business owner, most of the content you produce could be called copywriting at least in some sense. After all, if you’re creating content with the ultimate goal of selling something, that is by definition copywriting.

  1. Facebook

    Sure we all like to hang out on Facebook and chat with friends, catch up on the latest funny videos, and enjoy a mindless “quiz” or two. But for business owners, Facebook is much more than that. It’s a place to connect with potential clients, and that means that when you’re sharing your latest blog post or program with your business friends, you have to keep good copywriting in mind.

  2. LinkedIn Profile

    What makes you stand out from the other business owners in your niche? Your LinkedIn profile is where you share what makes you the best person to solve your ideal client’s problems. It’s where you shout about your credentials and let your ego run the show. Think of your LinkedIn profile like a resume, and be sure to list your most impressive credentials.

  3. About Page

    Here’s your chance to have some fun while blowing your own horn. It’s important to know that the about page is often the most visited page on a website, so it’s a critical piece of your overall brand and message. The purpose of your about page is to entice people to want to learn more about your services, so be sure to include a call to action on the page. Have some fun with this page too. It’s the perfect place to let your personality shine!

  4. Blog Posts

    All blog posts have a job to do. Maybe they’re meant to lead your reader to a sales page. Perhaps you’re asking for readers to subscribe to your mailing list. Maybe your blog post is designed to start a conversation. Or maybe it’s just sharing great content and inviting readers to learn more by clicking on related posts. Whatever the job, it’s copywriting that entices your reader to take that next action.

  5. Twitter

    Two hundred and eighty characters is precious little space for creating compelling content, yet that’s exactly what you must do if you hope to use Twitter as part of your overall marketing strategy. Think of tweets like email subject lines, and craft them to convey as much information as possible while still enticing readers to take action.

  • Email

    Whether you’re sending an email about a new product or service or simply letting readers know you have a new blog post up, your email definitely qualifies as copywriting. In fact, even the personal emails you send to prospective clients contain what we would call copywriting.

  • The fact is, copywriting is everywhere in your business, from your sales pages to your invoices. Whenever you ask a reader to take some action, you’re writing copy, and the more comfortable with the idea of it, the better (and more natural) you’ll become.