All I want for Christmas is my best target audience

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Isn’t he adorable?!  This man is your target audience and he’s out there.   He wants that great new pet product you – he just doesn’t know it yet.

Why doesn’t he know it?  Because you either haven’t figured out who he is OR you have and you’re not reaching him correctly.  So what’s a brand to do?

Get serious about growing your pet brand in 2019 with a new focus on target audience and target message. 

Who is your target audience?  Suburban couple with 2 kids and a dog?  Guess what– that’s the same target audience as the majority of pet brands.  You can do better than that and you need to.  Here’s why:

The United States is becoming more and more heterogeneous with every passing year.  Mass marketing doesn’t work like it used to even if you had the vast budget it requires. Plus with retailers ever consolidating, the opportunities to partner with a store and gain traction is much more difficult than it was even five years ago. 

The key to success in marketing lies in the details especially for pet entrepreneurs who intend to rely on e-commerce and digital marketing.  Until you have a clear picture of who is best suited to your product, your messaging, graphic design and ad spend will suffer.

How to find your target audience.   

Look at your current customers.  What do your users think about your brand, what brands do they purchase when they’re not buying yours, what is your share of their purchases and how could it be larger?  These answers spark more questions – Who are your “heavy” users, what percentage of your revenue do they represent, how are they unique demographically and psychologically from a “normal” user?  Money spent on heavy users will have a much higher ROI than that spent on indifferent users.

Test your product concept against potential users to see who is interested.   Work with a professional to write a solid description of your product and have a large, representative sample of potential users tell you what they like – and don’t like.  See if they’re willing to pay the price you’re asking. Not only can you compare metrics with other ideas to prioritize investment, but you also get solid direction on how to optimize messaging.   

How to get your target audience to pay attention.  

Design a marketing message that resonates with the highest potential niche of your total target.  You can’t be everything to everyone effectively.  If you concentrate on meeting the needs and crafting a meaningful message to a somewhat narrow target, you’ll bring them in cost-efficiently and along the way, you’ll attract other “non bulls-eye” consumers on the periphery.

Reach them where they are.  If they’re looking for a fencing option, and you have one, find the right consumer on Search.  If you’ve got a product they don’t know they need, like an indoor pet potty, reach them via digital ads and public relations. 

Buzzsumo’s Content Analyzer tool can show you where people are engaging with content in your industry.  Unfortunately it only looks at Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Pinterest (when an awful lot of engagement takes place on Instagram), but it is helpful to see what channels and what forms (long form content, video, etc) are getting traction. You can sign up for the free trial and play with this feature. 

Engage them with information they find relevant.  Everyone knows that having good content in your email marketing, in your search ad titles and on your website is critical to getting a customer, particularly if your product is pricey and/or you’re a new company.  Relevant and fresh content makes your organic search hum.  Here are some steps to take:

  • Write about non-generic subjects.  Buzzsumo’s Content Analyzer is a particularly interesting tool to give you insight on what content areas are “saturated.” Saturated means that there are a lot of things being published about a topic and pet owners are no longer engaging as measured by the act of sharing.  A good example is an analysis of “Grain Free Pet Food” – yesterday’s trend.  The below chart shows you that there is still a lot of content being generated about this topic, however, as evidenced by the flat line on the bottom, consumers are not finding it valuable.  Until July.  That large spike is new and relevant information about the potential for dogs to develop heart problems from a grain free diet.  All of a sudden consumers are engaged again although it may not be the type of engagement you’re looking for.
  •  Invest in quality content.  The bottom line is that you need a content strategy that makes sure you spend your time creating meaningful content that will work hard for you.  Items that should be included in your content strategy are:  a.) Original research (“New study shows what pet owners really want in a dog trainer”); b.) Video and c.) Interactive content (“Take this quiz to see what kind of training plan is best for your dog”).

There’s no question that finding and marketing to a target audience is a significant amount of work.  The good news is that you don’t have to do it on your own. Reach out and get some advice from people who make it their business to find and communicate with a pet target audience like yours.

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