Who is the target audience for your business? I am still amazed at the number of my clients who answer, “Everyone.” Admit it. Most of us think everyone is going to love our product or service, or at the very least want to try it. Unfortunately for us (or fortunately, depending on how you feel after reading this article), that is rarely the case.
The fact is, no matter how general or broad your business may be, it still has a specific audience. Take my latest book, Financial Survival: Practical Ways to Save Money for example. By the title alone, you may be thinking what others have told me, “Sounds like a book everyone will want!” However, after testing the market, I’ve find that to not be true. I have come across five different types of audiences in my own book’s marketing (that can be applied to any product or service), only one of which is the true audience for its message. And you may be surprised just how small that audience is!
The Denier is one who may admire your accomplishment and need what you offer, but refuses to acknowledge that your product or service is for them.
For instance, when I have had a conversation with Deniers, they will spend much of the time complaining about their financial situation. When I bring up my own struggles, what my family has been through, and how we’ve dealt with it (typically leading to an introduction of my book), they will pat me on the back for my accomplishment, but make some excuse that the message isn’t for them.
The interesting thing about the Denier is that you can mention to them a need for someone else in their lives that would be fulfilled by your offerings (e.g., one of their children or friends) and they will eagerly purchase it for that other person. Despite their own financial problems, in my experience, they are more likely to see a solution in my book for a loved one rather than themselves.
The Denier is not without hope as an audience for your product or service. They just take more convincing. In my case, a few of them have bought the book for others, then come to me later and told me they liked it so much they decided to keep it and buy another copy for their loved ones – the ones they initially bought the first copy for. By presenting to them a need of another or continually encouraging them, you can still market your business to the Denier.
The Professional is the self-proclaimed “know-it-all” of your industry. This person may not even work in your industry, but they still believe they know more about your business than you do.
In the life of my book, this person has taken the form of financial “experts,” “professional” reviewers, and others who deem themselves qualified to judge the book I wrote. Typically, this group has rejected my book outright. And it is clear, especially from the “professional” reviewers, that they couldn’t see past the first part of the title that the book is about Practical Ways to Save Money, not “expert” financial advice.
Some have even taken extra measures to undermine my credibility as its author, saying that since I had some financial hardships (losing my job due to the company’s financial problems – how many of you are in that boat today?), they must have been my fault and therefore I have no right to share my experience with others or offer them “advice.” Additionally, the Professionals have let me know that including my own personal story throughout the book is a “waste of space” and “totally inappropriate.”
In my case, my audience is definitely not the Professional. I wrote the book for everyday people who need help getting on their feet. And the interesting thing is, when I speak to groups, my “totally inappropriate” personal story is what sells the book. It has been proven that people want to relate with you on a more personal level; to know you understand what they are going through. Use that to help find your target audience!
The Accomplished is the professional who is indeed truly an expert in your field. This audience will typically take a close, objective look at your product or service and give you honest feedback. You may not always like it, but their delivery will typically be gentle.
In the case of my book, there have been many of the Accomplished who loved the book specifically for the reasons the Professional did not. They are the ones who want me to come speak to their clients, buy books for their seminars as giveaways, or give it objective reviews stressing its more redeeming qualities.
Though this audience may seem incredibly small, having just one Accomplished supporter in your circle is invaluable. They will truly be behind the message of your product or service and are more willing to support you. The Accomplished are an audience to seek out, as they can catapult your word-of-mouth marketing plan faster than you can alone.
The Dissenter is the audience you want to steer clear of. These are the people who will ignore your message and stand as far away from it as possible. They flat out disagree with everything you say, even if it is the truth.
For instance, in my book I touch on the consequences of debt – both good and bad. “Debt” has become a word that rubs certain people the wrong way. Just broaching the subject creates conflict with them. When I bring up the point that self-made millionaires didn’t get where they are today by way of debt (as many of my personal millionaire contacts have shared with me), it just makes them mad.
Trying to convince a Dissenter that you speak the truth, no matter if it’s clear as black and white to you, is a waste of precious time you could be spending marketing your product or service to others. The Dissenter will believe what they want to believe, even when faced with the obvious. They are blind to anything that is not in their own minds.
The Declarer is probably the most valuable audience for you to reach. They are typically the first to invest in your business and will often market it for you.
This audience will try anything you offer and typically put it to use. If they put the message you promote in your business into action in their own lives, their testimony will be that much more powerful when they are talking with others about it.
If prompted, the Declarer will sell your products or services for you. In my case, I have three avid Declarers who have sold a lot of books just by their personal testimonials. All three have found my book to be helpful for them – one even found $300 extra per month she didn’t know she had by following some lifestyle changes outlined in the book. Another recently lost her job and was using methods I used when I lost my job to cope. The third has always had a tight budget, but she has been learning more of how to stick to it. All three combined make a more powerful sales force for me than one member of any other audience, even one of the Accomplished.
The Declarers can be the most powerful audience you will reach. They will buy your product or service without question, usually without you having to tell them much about it. They are eager to learn and even more eager to share. And their excitement is contagious. It gets others who hear their personal stories interested in what you offer and wanting to know more about you. This is the audience to go for first, but they can be hard to find. You will be able to recognize them by their willingness to purchase a product or service before you have to give your “sales pitch.” They want it because of its value, and are often convinced simply by the blurb on the back cover of a book or the copy on the front of your brochure. After a while, you will learn to recognize the Declarer and they will become your most powerful word-of-mouth marketing tool.
Though I only mention five types of audiences, there are many “Tweener” audiences. For example, these are the types who may be in between a Denier and a Declarer, yet not fit within any of the other audiences. They may enjoy your business offerings and help promote them, just not to the extreme the Declarer will. By seeking out the extremes of your target audience, your marketing plan will succeed faster, though many “Tweeners” may take to it and help along the way as well. In my own experience, everyone could use the lifestyle changes I present in Financial Survival: Practical Ways to Save Money. But as it turns out, hardly anyone is actually open to them. I have discovered that it is human nature to be offended by truth. Since I uphold some hard truths in my book, it has made a lot of people mad (especially self-proclaimed Professionals and Dissenters). If this happens to you, don’t let it get you down. Instead, congratulate yourself – you just found someone who is not in your target audience and are able to cross them off your list!
This article is Copyright 2009 by Kristen Eckstein. Reprint rights allowed with a credit statement reflecting the text in the Resource Box.
Kristen Eckstein is an avid marketer, book publishing coach, and the author of three books. Find out which publishing option is right for you! Grab your free audio and fun quiz at http://www.iampublished.com
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