Have you ever been presented with a product or service that made you think the person who created it was reading your mind? It was almost as if they had followed you around, understood what made you tick, and knew exactly what buttons to push to get the desired reaction.
While they probably didn't trail you through rush hour traffic or tap your phone, this isn't far from the truth. The most successful marketers have developed the ability to find out what their target audience is thinking and then provide them with solutions to their biggest issues at just the right moment.
If this sounds like a tall order, it certainly is! But, it's not impossible. While you could create a business based on trial and error, this isn't ideal. The kitchen sink approach to running your business and selling to customers is a time-consuming and expensive process. Public opinion polls are available online but do not provide the necessary information to make business decisions.
The assumption is that you already have an idea of who your target audience is. Once you pass that hurdle, there are several ingenious ways that you can essentially "read their minds" so that you are addressing the right pain points with your message.
Who is Your Target Audience?
You may be tempted to skip the customer research portion of this process (like the opening bands at a concert), but this will likely leave you listening to crickets when it comes time to sell your product or service. Identifying your target audience is the first step in developing an understanding of their wants and needs.
Every solid audience profile has information about demographics. For example, your target audience might be single Millennial college graduates with no children who make more than $50,000 per year, or they could be retired couples over the age of 65 who have a combined annual income of over $80,000.
How to Read the Minds of Your Target Audience
Demographics are a good place to start, but these facts and figures may not get you into the hearts and minds of your audience. In truth, each person in those groups will have something that keeps them awake at night or that has become a persistent enough problem that they would love a solution.
Instead of guessing about these pain points, there are some simple customer profile tools that will allow you to read the minds of your target audience so that your sales results will soar.
- Your CRM System
If your company has been using a customer relationship management (CRM) system, this is an excellent place to start. You should already have collected detailed information about your target audience as well as data from actual client contacts. When a customer or potential customer tells you something, this insight is priceless.
A CRM such as HubSpot’s also offers the option to monitor when emails are opened and clicked by the recipient. This helps you to understand what someone is interested in and how interested they might be. The notification you receive from HubSpot is instant and the person who opened or clicked your email is unaware.
- The Front Page of the Internet
An excellent research tool that tends to fly under the radar is Reddit, also referred to as "the front page of the internet." Reddit reaches over 200 million unique visitors each month across 208 countries. There's a better than good chance that your target audience is spending time in one of the many subreddits that coincide with their interests. Use the search tool to find relevant subreddits and then read the topics with the most upvotes to see what is popular.
- The Question and Answer Site
Remember Yahoo Answers? They're still around, but they have been overshadowed by the king of questions and answers - Quora. This website is a market researcher’s dream. People enter questions about anything and everything and hope for useful answers. You can search and sort the questions on the platform according to keywords so that you can get an idea of what your target audience is asking about the most.
- Read Major Review Sites
People tend to get incredibly specific about their needs and desires when they write product reviews. Spend some time browsing Amazon or Trip Advisor reviews, and you'll find some of the most detailed insight into your target market imaginable. If you're looking for a "problem" to solve for your target audience, go to similar products or services and read the most critical reviews first.
- Social Media Platforms
Many marketers have a love-hate relationship with social media platforms. Most of us know how to use Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends, but you can also use the site to learn about what people are interested in through Facebook Groups. Join public and private groups and "eavesdrop" on their conversations. What is missing from their lives and what gripes do they bring up the most?
- Unnoticed News from News feeds
Big news from their company may go unnoticed because the primary news feeds don’t think it to be juicy enough. You can bypass the public news and learn about your target company’s story. One example is Cision PR Newswire. You can search the press releases by topic or by company (This is also a good way to obtain information on competitors.) Cision is not the only press release distributor. You can also refer to PRWeb, BusinessWire and Associated Press News. AP offers an option to create your own news feed across multiple devices. Before you contact or meet with someone, doing a quick search can give you a heads up about something to celebrate, or be concerned about.
Note: The source of the articles in news feeds may be from a reporter or from the company written by an agency.
If you are interested in ‘reading the minds’ specifically of those who visit your website, you might be interested in heatmap software. One example is Hotjar, it tracks the movement of the mouse to give you more information about what draws their attention.
- Monitor and Get Alerts
People are talking (clicking and sharing) and when someone in your target audience or topic is interested, you can receive instant alerts automatically. There are software tools built to monitor mentions of your brand, but also can be used for your target audience, customers or competitors.
One example is Mention.com which gives you live updates about your brand from the web and social media. Mention.com claims to monitor over 1 billion sources daily including social media, forums, blogs, and the rest of the web. Boolean alerts help you zero in on your brand, competitors, and customers for precise market research.
You can also set up a Google Alert to get notifications about new website pages, news and mentions.
Surveillance capitalism has become a reality as companies like Facebook and Google offer people free services in exchange for their data. Google's surveillance isn't in the news, but it's startlingly intimate and quite comprehensive. People don’t lie to search engines. Their interests and curiosities, hopes and fears, and desires, are all collected and saved. Add to that the websites they visit that Google tracks through its advertising network, Gmail accounts, movements via Google Maps, and what it can collect from smartphones.
It is not just for large companies. By listening and paying attention, you can give better service, have better conversations and ensure your future customers say, ‘That is just what I was looking for!”
Market research was once something that only the largest companies invested resources in because it was considered costly. This is no longer the case thanks to the availability of data and speed of access that have opened a new range of services to even the smallest businesses. Now, any company can develop and test ideas before bringing them to market so that they have the greatest impact on a target audience and the organization's bottom line.
To help you evaluate which of your target audiences will become your best clients, use my BEST Client Identifier Worksheet here. Attract more like them as new clients - Reduce expenses - Increase repeat purchases - Increase Sales and Profitability.