Thank you to everyone who responded to last week’s newsletter, it’s always nice to know you are missed! My message of what constitutes a good vision seemed to resonate with a number of you. If you missed it you can read it here.
One of the most influential books I read last year was Atomic Habits by James Clear. A suggested tactic he offers to move toward longer-term goals or to overcome challenges is to ‘habit stack’. This is identifying certain situations and triggers that can help you build from one habit that leads to another and helps move you forward to achieve more.
I have a standing commitment on Tuesday mornings that requires me to find somewhere to sit for an hour, perhaps get some work done or catch up on e-mail. I found that this hour was not always as productive as perhaps it could be, especially as the morning is a more creative and better functioning time for me.
I decided to revisit this time slot and look at what I was trying to achieve this year, what was missing last year that I wanted to get back to and what were the habits and actions I could instill to help me get there. I also tied it to my vision and who I was looking to reach more consistently with my message.
I identified that writing a weekly message was something I really wanted to accomplish. Usually for me sitting in my office to do this offers too many distractions. So sitting in a Starbucks with the express plan of writing for 60 minutes was appealing to me. The results are this week and last week’s newsletter and more importantly identifying who I was trying to reach and how I wanted to do that.
Once you have discovered your brand or at least have a more solid sense of what it stands for, there is no benefit if you spend most of your time communicating it to the wrong audience.
Having a clear understanding of your target audience is critical to being noticed by the right people, those who are going to work with you, for you or recommend you – those that care about you and what you do.
We all have limited time and resources to spend on marketing ourselves or our businesses. It can really help to clearly and in quite some detail be able to describe the audience you want to influence.
You might know who that target audience is already and if you have been in business for a while might even know them by name. If not then you need to take some time to think about who might be attracted to the skills and strengths you have identified that make your brand stand out. Alternatively, you might have an audience you are trying to do more work with or break into for the first time and it’s a great exercise to go through to get a very clear picture of who they are, build a ‘dossier’ if you like of that ideal client or partner.
A target audience can take on many definitions. It does not always have to be an industry or specialization. The target audience could be determined by location, or job role or see if there can be a stronger link to your vision and/or purpose.
Once you have decided on your target you need to take it down to the next level to identify who are the people in that arena that you need to influence and who need to be exposed to your brand and your message.
Approach this from both the demographics – such as age, gender, location etc and then take it deeper to the psychographics – what do they do in their spare time, what they like to read, what professional or community activities might they be involved in – this can be invaluable for you to ‘meet’ these targets in situations where perhaps your competition will never be.
Keep in mind your time and resources are limited so when considering a target audience is how are you going to find them? Are there groups, online forums or meetings where they get together?
You must also consider your competition to be fully aware of the potential barriers they may present for you and these can be outside of the box in terms of threat. Coca Cola, for example, considers one of its major competitors is smartphones because its target market, youth, may choose to spend a dollar on the latest app versus buying a can of Coke. Conduct a similar exercise to that of your target industry and target audience, again experience might already tell you who they are.
- What is the same?
- What do you have in common with these competitors?
- Now more importantly what makes you different?
- For that thinking outside of the box who else might be competing for your target audience’s time and resources?
- What advantage do you have over that competition?
- Why should your target market listen to your message?
Part of discovering your brand revolves around identifying your strengths and brand attributes. Some of those you would expect you and all people like you to have, i.e. your competitors are likely to have these attributes and skills. But then there are others you possess that may not be necessary to do what you do but they help you stand out or help you deliver in a differentiated or unexpected way that is memorable and ties you closer to your client.
As I mentioned earlier, my go-to coffee place is Starbucks and yet I only drink black coffee. But it is the way that Starbucks makes me feel, the culture, the atmosphere that helps me be productive differently, its the brand essence that often has me walking past 5 other coffee places to get there. They know how to appeal to their target audience.
The emotional attributes and skills are the differentiators, the reasons people want to work with you, for you or buy from you. If you have that attribute or skill and none of your competitors do you can really start to use that to your advantage and stand out to your target audience.