In this article, you will learn about audience research and how to carry out one to increase your sales and get more customers.
A. What is audience research? Audience research is an information-gathering exercise that helps you understand who your audience/customers are, where they are, and what interests them. This knowledge is used to create relatable and more target-focused business offers and content.
B. Steps to audience research include
- Define your business mission.
- Competitor’s Research [with customer service improvement as motivation]
- Audience Research
How to Know your audience
Audience research or customer research is rarely given a full seat in business discussions. It is mostly mentioned as icing on the cake when businesses are trying to sell things through ads and sales campaigns. But in this experience, we give you a more detailed perspective on why you should never see audience research as an afterthought or means to an end. As a business looking to sell something to real people, your audience research should be an essential part of your business and product development strategies. This progressive approach has shaped how business giants from Apple to Amazon approach their businesses today.
The audience research should begin way before the product idea has been fully conceived. The sales process proves more effective in converting and retaining more customers when businesses do not treat audience research as an afterthought in decision-making.
Know your audience – four ways to conduct audience research for your business:
- Define your business mission first
Businesses that have customer obsession at the center of their business plans tend to value audience research. This is because the customer is treated as a stakeholder in the business. Contrary to popular belief, it is not enough for a business to execute amazing product ideas. Rather, a business must learn to create its own product development philosophy and use it to approach real-world problems. This is how you make life easier for their customers.
For example, the adaptive brightness feature on the iPhone and a few other smartphone brands demonstrate the thoughtfulness of their product teams. This feature automatically brightens or darkens the user’s device screen based on the lighting level of the environment.
Think of a product that stressed you or a product you found absolutely worthless. Perhaps something happened at the audience research level, product execution might have gone wrong, and life happened. Or their business plan simply didn’t consider the customer’s wellbeing. But the risks are minimal when there is a culture of interviewing end users before the product goes live.
Failed ad campaigns, and failed products mostly happen when business do not know their audience. They are the result of poor audience knowledge and implementation. Of course, knowing your audience doesn’t automatically give you a magical wand for sales success. Sales might fail if other aspects like marketing, market timing, and product design implementation go wrong. However, a customer-centric philosophy just minimizes the risk of failure. Testing a product idea or ad prototype with a test segment of your audience can save your business from the risk of launching an untested idea. It is gravely expensive to launch an offer nobody wants. In fact, getting such feedback early can help you know whether it’s the product or how your team is selling the product.
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2. Start a survey to know your audience
Surveys bring audience-informed feedback. Except you intend to purchase your own products, a survey can use audience votes, polls, and opinions to validate your product idea. Surveys are never going out of trend. They let you know your audience by exploring their submissions. But what makes surveys effective is how teams interpret and use them. They can help your team highlight other areas your competitors may not be looking at. Perhaps, those might be the gaps your business needs to fill in the market rather than sell something people may not need.
One of the issues with traditional business models was their product-focused approach to sales. The problems most companies at the time tackled were more social than individual-based. This was understandable as industrialization was still growing and production had to be massive to maximize investment. Worthy mentions are the product revolutions started by the Henry Fords and their cars and Thomas Edisons and their light bulbs. This approach allowed businesses to manufacture and ship massively to the people. Plus the products were one-size fits all. As time went by, marketing teams began to step in. Their jobs were to make these products more attractive and appealing to the customers in fine packages and wrappers. The customer’s considerations were an afterthought in the era.
Now in the modern era, we have more research-backed developments and even insight-based products like Apple and Amazon. These products focused on people’s behaviors and how to design products that appealed to their problems and desires. Business leaders are willing to fail and retest their ideas till it proved effective. When Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs launched their series of Apple computers in the 70s the world would see something revolutionary. Businesses can reach newer and even unprecedented heights when they learn from customer insights and industry-backed surveys or build on the lessons from existing products.
When businesses make customer research their tradition they are able to study what has worked, why they work or aren’t working, and build on them. R n D teams and even creative teams can easily get that magic idea only when they already know the problem people are facing and what the next step should be. It’s easier to sell a product that sells itself already.
3. Study your competitors [but focus more on your audience]
Today’s entrepreneurship may have flourished on the “groundbreaking discovery” legend. A chase for newness or novelty. If it will change the future then it is a big thing. It’s easier to cite Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, Elon Musk’s Tesla, SpaceX space tourism, and other exciting business stories that make headlines. It is evident that there is a growing obsession with the new and groundbreaking. Unfortunately, many businesses may be losing many opportunities believing that their idea must be groundbreaking to be acceptable. What will happen to today if we all obsess about the future? We obsess over the stars while climate disasters ruin our earthly homes.
This is why more businesses should study their competitors and industry leaders not to imitate entirely but for insights. The motivation for this exercise is to know your audience and how to serve them better. What is this business doing so well that customers just keep going back or doing wrongly [in case there have been bad reviews]? You just may find something you can do better than your competitor. If you can do it better or more efficiently why not step into the business? Little things like delivery speed and cost, customer service, business leadership culture, staff welfare, sustainable vision, business operating hours, and low business coverage in other areas can be an opportunity for another business.
When you study your competitor using the customer-centric approach, you start to see what can be improved upon. According to Amazon leader Jeff Bezos, businesses overly focused on what their competitor is doing already lost the game. When you move all business energy to study your competitor, a brick wall of depression awaits you when you become the industry’s #1. So what happens now that you are ahead of your competition? Does your business get stuck and quit reinventing, what’s next?
When the competitor is your focus there is a limit to business motivation for improvement. But when your approach to competition is to learn more about your customers you never stop inventing. Customers are never satisfied. Even charismatic businesses with larger-than-life visions tend to make powerful statements that their customers have no option but to follow. SpaceX leader Elon Musk has a notable history in this regard.
4. Research your audience
This is the final step you should take to know your audience. This should come before you even develop a product to sell is to research whom you want to sell to. To know your audience, their age, gender, region, and other factors should matter. This is called audience demographics. This does not necessarily mean they are your direct customers [buyers] or consumers [users]. But they help you build great marketing and sales intelligence that may impact your reach. A men’s wear brand can target female spouses during Valentine’s Day [or father’s day]. “A Gift for Him” can sum up that ad campaign well. We want you to know your audience, not just the buyers. This can mean those who can influence the buyers and even the buyer’s perception. There is a reason businesses reach out to celebrities loved by their target audience.
Targeting working parents with children in a children’s toy ad campaign is an example. It’s a great demographic segment and automatically specifies who you are creating this product for. Demographics help you know what kind of audience you want to target, where they are, and when. Such considerations improve product development and even marketing messaging. Now you need to communicate your business or product offered to them. By communicating properly you help them understand your offer and identify with your offer.
This is achievable with audience behaviors, interests, or psychographics.
With psychographics, you know your audience to be actual individuals. They have emotions, dreams, and desires to be better parents even as they work hard to provide. The audience might be parents who work 9-5 or remote workers. Maybe they struggle to buy gifts and surprise treats for their kids as they are mostly too exhausted to attempt this on the weekends. Use demographics to know your audience. Then you use psychographics to communicate and craft better product offers and messages.
In conclusion, a business solely exists to cater to its audience and customers. We’ve seen the power of customer investments in that they are able to grow little businesses into giants worth millions and billions. These businesses go the long mile to know their audience. If there is anyone who is aware of the customer’s power it is the audience and customers themselves. Businesses should not be too focused on doing things the same way that they miss out on opportunities to learn and grow better.