Or more accurately, who is this website being built for?
One of the issues that many websites (and marketing efforts) have is a generic broad-brush approach of what they offer and whom their product should appeal to.
That will happen if you tend to have broad statements about who your audience is.
A typical response to the question 'Who is your Audience?' is “ Anyone that wants to buy my widget” etc.
That’s super broad, and not very helpful to focus your efforts. Our goal throughout this entire series is to make your website work for you and be highly targeted. We want you building a result-orientated site.
Imagine telling your builder “We just need about four bedrooms to fit all 4 of us.” You are very likely to get four bedrooms, but how many bathrooms will you get, where will they be situated, what size are the rooms? That will all be left to chance or the builders imagination.
To get the website that will get you highly focused results you need to be able to focus in on your audience and list out specifics that will match their needs.
You need to create a singular focus for a singular audience.
Your site (and business) might not just have one focus audience or product; you might sell clothes for men and women and most companies do sell more than one thing. That just means you are going to need to do the audience identification task multiple times.
You don’t want a site heavily focussed on just one gender or type of clothing, so you need to make sure you understand all of your audiences.
Note: You will by now have seen I talk about audiences not customers/clients in this section. Not all sites are about selling something, and not everybody buys the first time they come to your site. When making a movie you are trying to appeal to a particular audience and if you provide them what they like then they go away happy and continue to interact with you. We want to treat our “ideal customers” as an audience. We want to prepare for them and understand them and make sure we get them in our cinema, and they like what they are seeing and hearing. Then we can work on selling them, but selling is only part of the puzzle. Let’s get to know our audience first before we count on them buying.
Identifying, who your audience is, starts with a general understanding of your typical customers. Those people who buy from you. Keep in mind as well that if you aren’t selling to the right people at the moment, those you want to buy your product, then you need to be focussing on this ideal person, not the ones currently buying.
For the purpose of understanding your ideal customer, we will refer to them as your ‘Jenny.' It’s much easier when discussing people to use real people's names and to treat your target market as people, not things or abstract objects.
We will look over one singular Jenny to provide the example of how to understand and review your audience. You will most likely have multiple different Jenny’s and many different needs for each Jenny, and you will give them all their own names.
It’s not about what you want to sell to Jenny; you have to shift your thinking to understand what Jenny wants.
You might have a fantastic automated pool cleaner that you want to sell to Jenny, but focussing on the pool cleaner you have and not on Jennys needs/wants will create for you a site filled with product pages, rather than a site designed around attracting Jenny and helping her solve a problem of hers.
You are going to want to build a persona (individual profile) for Jenny, as outlined in the 'What Jenny Wants' Template.
There are any number of extensive tools and methods for building detailed personas, and expanding on persona development as well as customer segmentation and research.
Don’t get caught up in a perfect persona when you first start out. You can end up in analysis paralysis over a problem that might not be as big as it needs to be.
What is most important throughout the process is you learning how important personas and getting a better understanding of your audience is.
In identifying your Jenny, you need to understand a good summary of who she is, what the main problems are (relating to what you offer) and focused clarity on the problem, possible solutions.
Jenny might be a time poor working professional recently separated with several children and not loving the messy backyard. The pool might be looking dirty, and she has no interest nor time to clean out all the leaves every week and doesn’t need the additional weekly expense of the pool man. Her kids are probably a little young to do this reliably. She is considering moving house to get rid of the pool and yard but is worried about more change for everyone in a difficult time.
If you extend your thinking now about what solutions you have that might appeal to Jenny based on Jenny’s problems you are going to be looking at how to target her, what content and products might appeal to her, and where her thinking will be.
See how suddenly Jenny takes shape, she is someone that can be related to.
Now you start to see how your entire development focus will change.
Generic page about Automated Pool Cleaners
A focused page that targets time poor people who don’t need the hassle of cleaning their pool but want a pool.
More work? Absolutely.
Better result. Absolutely.
Once you have such focused content when you start marketing campaigns, you will be able to target ads to solve problems, the ideal method, supported by content and calls to action that will bring in better-qualified people more ready to buy.
Underneath all this would you still have a traditional catalogue with products and shopping cart? Most definitely. Instead of designing a site just about the product we are developing a site for your ideal Jenny’s and helping them find their way through the site.
This is just an example of how understanding your audience works. Such knowledge is going to help you identify navigation, terminology and categorisation throughout your site, content required, search optimisation needs, artwork needed, colour palettes and a whole lot more.
For your business, you need to work through the process of getting very clear on who your audience/s are.
If you were a pub/bar in Sydney, Australia that is looking to understand better it’s audience; you might start by first creating some simple groups:
If you only show two types of sport in the bar, then appealing to all sports lovers is a long stretch.
If your sports bar area shows as many sports as you can then you are going to break sports interests into all the types you are currently showing or wanting to promote in your bar:
In this instance, you have both Jennys and Jims.
In each instance, you can build up a profile of the types of people that frequent your business, or who you want to frequent your business, and should be able to see already how your marketing messages and approach currently does or doesn’t appeal to this audience.
As you build it the questions you should already have started forming in your mind are;
You should be able to see why understanding your audience is one of the primary key platforms of building any great new site.
There are many more examples we could provide.
If you are a Law Practice, you can rebuild your site focused on what your services are and what you want to tell people you do, or you can build your site around the people, problems and solutions you can help provide.
Ultimately as I said at the top f this chapter, it's about changing your focus. You are changing your focus from a 'me-centric' internal view of what you offer to a customer focused view where you seek to understand you your offer best suits and what their needs are.
I know which one is a more robust method.
Write our the audiences you serve and build out as many personas as you can for your ideal customers.
Then move onto the next chapter.