But to get the most out of your research, you're going to want to be extra strategic about it. So here are 9 tips to help you better analyze the needs of your target market once you find them in the wild.
One of the easiest ways to get inside the mind of your ideal audience is to ask Google for suggestions. You've probably noticed that when you type a word or two into Google, it always gives suggestions for popular searches. So try to think of keywords that your audience members might be using. Type those in to google search and learn from the suggested search terms that pop up. This will tell you exactly how your ideal audience is praising their questions. Make a big list of the most popular searches.
This is a small part of something called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). We'll talk all about this in another episode but for now, just know that those suggested search terms are a treasure trove of information about what your ideal clients are searching for and exactly how they are going about finding it.
I talked a little bout this in yesterday's episode but it bears repeating. When you see that one of your competitor’s pages or groups is getting busy, it’s a good time to go read the discussion. If one post is gaining a lot of traction, you can read between the lines to find some really good ideas for content, products, or services based on other people’s discussion points.
When you do see a hot topic discussion, your only job is to listen up and pay attention. Read their questions, write them down, and study them like there's going to be an exam tomorrow. If you start to notice the same four or five questions pop up in the comments section over and over again. Keep a spreadsheet of these and make note of the most popular (and unpopular) responses.
What advice is well received and what is not. You can gain just as much insight from a disagreement as you can from a unanimously positive response. When you start to see that a specific type of post gets people really engaged or fired up, this could be a great contender for future content.
If your competitors or audience members use specific hashtags in their posts, use those hashtags to search for more information. You may find a lot of new posts and comments to explore. Keep yourself up to date on what hashtags are trending and what posts using those hashtags seem to be getting the most traction. These could be a great indicator of discussion points to work with.
Don’t forget that blogs and YouTube videos have comments, too. Make it a habit to look at your competition’s comments section every time they publish something new. This is a great place to find good questions, answers, and insight into what the audience thinks about the topic. If you notice low engagement around a specific piece of content or editorial style, you can learn from that mistake. If you start to see loads of action and a super-engaged discussion, there is an opportunity to create your own content either explaining the same thing in a different way or touching on everything that your competition specifically did not cover in their post.
When you do engage with others on other people’s platforms, be respectful and carefully follow the rules of engagement. Don’t try to drop links or take their customers. And NEVER throw shade at the content creator or point out flaws in the material. That's just bad etiquette. But you can jump in to answer questions and add value to the conversation.
If you do a good enough job of this, there is a very good chance people will be curious enough to look at your profile - so be ready. The trick here is not to reinvent the wheel. When they hop over to check out your content you don't want them to see a bunch of the same thing they already have access to. Instead, try to create complimentary material that will appeal to the same group in a different way. Your goal will always be to answer the questions people will inevitably have before they ever need to ask them.
Of course, you are always going to be helpful - after all, that’s what you do - but if you can focus only on being a helpful resource and not as much on the selling aspects when you're engaging with your audience on a human level as a helpful person, they’re more likely to seek you out for paid work.
Whether you find your audience in person or online, it's imperative that you become a resource to them before you try to sell to them. People do not like feeling as if every time they ask for help, someone is selling them a product. I'm sure you can relate. Of course, you are selling them a product, but if you want them to buy it, you need to be a lot more careful so that you don't seem like a stereotypical used car salesman. So your goal should never be to sell someone on your product or service. Instead, it should be to sell them on you as a knowledgeable expert. Let them make their way to your website on their own and let them make the decision to buy without coaxing. This is empowering for them and way less stress for you. Just do what you do best and be helpful.
When you do see someone who is a member of your ideal audience ask them if they're open to answering a few questions. It doesn't have to be an all-out interview, you can just shoot them a short and sweet email with a few carefully thought out questions that will tell you if you're on the right track with your content, branding, or product ideas. If you want to be fancy about it you can always incentivize them by giving them a free gift of some sort to sweeten the pot.
There are so many ways today to explore your ideal audience even before you have your own followers - and it's never too early to get started. The main thing to remember is that while you are looking for your ideal audience and learning from them wherever you find them, you want to be productive. Getting on social media and chatting all day is not productive, but asking the right questions and taking the right notes while creating a list of ideas that you intend to act on will help you make major headway.
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