small business researchIn small business advertising, the audience should define every marketing campaign. Knowing the needs and desires of a target demographic can help marketing representatives tie products, services and campaigns to their audience’s lifestyle and identity.  No marketing pitch succeeds by aiming for undefined masses. Campaigns need specific targets so they can be personal, moving and effective.

It’s helpful to distinguish between the audience and the market. The market is the entire group of people who might potentially be interested in your company’s goods and services. The audience is a subset of the market and is the designated target for a specific marketing campaign.

You can increase the effectiveness of your small business advertising by asking yourself these six questions to better understand your audience so that you can tailor promotions to them:

1. What is the Identity of your target audience?

A small business must first consider their palette of products and services, and then reflect on which types of people would need or want their offerings.  Someone selling decorative, trendy running shoes would likely have a target audience who identifies as athletic and competitive.  Trendy shoes might not appeal to older runners, but would be appealing to people in their 20s and 30s who care about cool design.

  • Age – A businesses should identify a clear age range for its audience.

  • Gender – Find out if one gender is more prone to be the buyer or decision-maker for the types of products you offer.

  • Demographics – Knowing demographics can help small businesses choose models and imagery for campaigns. People like to see themselves represented; it helps them connect.

2. What is their average Financial Profile?

Not everyone will be attracted to the same price point. Some groups crave luxury items and loathe anything that suggests cheapness while others are on a tight budget and hunt for bargains.

  • Expendable Cash – It doesn’t matter what a potential customer makes, but it does matter how much money they have left over after bills to patronize your company.  This can influence the deals you offer.

  • Spending Behavior – Is your audience more likely to spend at the end of the month or the beginning?  Would they buy your product multiple times a month or a couple times a year?  Does interest in spending on your product or service increase around certain holidays? Are they enticed to buy in bundles? All these things help a small business decide how they package and pitch their product.

3. Where is your audience Located?

  • Geography – Look at what parts of the country your audience hails from. Different humor and approaches appeal to Southerners vs. Northerners vs. Midwestern patrons. Such regional cultures can help businesses customize ads.

  • Urban/Suburban/Country – City people have different demands and daily chores than those living in a more suburban place or rural, farm areas. Pitches must reflect that.

4. What are their Activities?

  • Hobbies – Finding out what potential customers do in their spare time can help you link your product and service to their leisure hobbies. Whether it’s skiing, bingo, gardening or snorkeling, all these things can provide backdrops and context for commercials, print ads or even tweets.

5. How can they be Reached?

Once you learn more about your audience, you need to know just where you can get them to see or learn about your promotions and products.

  • Social Media – Businesses with a significant social media following can unveil promotions directly on their social media page or use small ad delivery systems designed for the social site.

  • Events – if your audience for a barbecue sauce product is likely to be at rodeos or state fairs, you should be there, too. Find out what events might be embraced by potential customers and brainstorm a way to tie promotions in with that event.

  • Charity Functions – A small business will find that nearly every product or service can be associated with a cause.  Find out what charities your potential audience supports.

  • Mainstream Media – TV, newspapers, radios and billboards are still good places to intersect with audiences, provided you know what shows they are watching, what highways they use and what print media they subscribe to.

6. What are their Values and Beliefs?

Beliefs and values are a major part of advertising. The most persuasive part of an ad is its message. Finding a way to blend the message with the audience’s passions and principles is key.

How do you find out all these details? It’s time for market research. Phone surveys, emailed links to online surveys, focus groups, polls on social media sites like Facebook, mailed questionnaires and registration forms that customers complete during a transaction are common and reliable ways to find out information about your audience.