How Every Startup Needs To Create Their Target Market
I work with startups every single day on their positioning, pitch, and story so they can raise venture capital and acquire customers.
Out of the gate, I always ask, “Who is your target market?”
Here’s what a real client mapped out for me recently:
This is actually pretty damn detailed. We know a lot about the life of “Brian”. I gave this client a ton of credit for really mapping out what this person looks like.
Most startups are way more generic than this when they define their target. They’ll say things like, “Moms”, “millennials”, etc.
The latter example will get you nowhere.
But even the former example, the “Brian The Financier” example, is not enough.
While I was blown away with how much information they pulled together about their target market, it was all demographic information. It was everything about what they do and how they live, but none of it was about how they think. How they feel.
When you’re as generic as “Moms” or as specific as “Brian TheFfinancier”, and all you have is demographic information, you basically create more work for yourself because you’re opening up more categories to have to go searching, thus making your messaging a nightmare.
You create a bunch of different buckets, and only one raindrop can fall into each bucket. You go wide instead of deep.
To go deep you have to get into the mind of your target. Get into their psyche.
Audience Positioning Funnels
If you’re part of a startup, here’s how I want you thinking about your target from this point forward.
With 100% intention, this is a funnel. It helps you get more specific. It drills into a person’s pain point, how they react to that pain, and when it occurs. Notice with the previous “Brian The Financier” target, while it provided a great deal of information, it basically gave 15 different starting points. That gets real confusing, real quick. You’ll run circles around yourself trying to talk to your audience.
The Audience Positioning Funnel helps you get more specific. It gives you direction. In fact, it’s literally pointing you in a direction.
Here’s why this makes sense and why it works.
These People: This is your top-line demographic information. This is “Financial professionals who make $65 — $180k and have children”. This is who they are.
Who Have This Problem: We already know who they are. Now we find out what’s on their mind. What’s eating at them. What’s getting in the way of them and their happiness, relative to the situation. Most startups are so consumed with product development that they completely lose track of the Problem they are solving for their customers. It’s logically backwards. The Problem is the MOST important thing. The only reason you’re in business is because you’re solving a problem.
Which Makes Them Feel This Way: We already know who they are, and what’s on their mind. That thing eating at them? This is how it makes them feel. This is crucial because it’s how your target develops a personal connection to that problem. It’s what makes them care.
At This Time: We already know who they are, what’s on their mind, and how they feel about it. This tells us when it happens to them. Examples include “while at the gym”, “when going to work”, “when finishing up their day”, “before bed”. etc. With this information we can capture specific moments in time.
Therefore, They Want To Feel: If we know what our target market is embroiled in, we can figure out what would make their world better. The feeling they aspire to. Their dream scenario. For example, if they feel overwhelmed, perhaps they want to feel at ease.
In total the Audience Positioning Funnel is your guide to finding your position in the marketplace. The last portion is the result of the funnel.
Putting This Into Practice
Okay —let’s put this into practice now. Let’s make “Brian The Financier” a target we can actually do something with.
From the demographic information, we know that in order to be making six figures, paying off student loans, and 37+ years old, you have to be a seasoned professional. No one fresh out of college has that combination.
THESE PEOPLE: Seasoned professionals
When you think about the life of a seasoned professional, they have a lot bouncing around their brains. Countless to-do’s at work, plus figuring out who is picking up the kid from school that day, and walking the dog. Add on tallying up monthly bills, and determining how much to allocate towards loans, it’s quite a lot on their plate.
WHO HAVE THIS PROBLEM: So much on their plate
With so much on their plate, the items are only compounding which is hella stressful, and builds a ton of anxiety.
WHICH MAKES THEM FEEL THIS WAY: Stressed/Anxious
With all that stress and anxiety building up, it’s not consciously affecting them while at work — they do their job to the best of their ability. But it is affecting their sleep the night before, and how they approach the workday.
AT THIS TIME: When going to bed at night and getting ready in the morning.
If you had stress when you went to bed, and anxiety when you woke up, surely life would be easier if you could feel some relief.
THEREFORE, THEY WANT TO FEEL: Relieved.
Boom. We just went from Brian the Financier being a customer with a lot of interests and life events — and therefore a whole lot of places to have to try to carve out a position — to knowing his exact problem, how it makes him feel, at what time, and therefore the feeling we need to deliver in our messaging. This guides the development of your overall story and pitch, PLUS makes coming up with your tagline that much easier.
Go deep. View your audience as a funnel, and figure out your position so you craft a message that sings to them.
Hi, I’m Rajiv ‘RajNATION’ Nathan, I’m the founder of RajNATION Innovation. Feel like your story sucks? I work with growth-focused startups like Keyo, Capital Construction Solutions, and more on pitch and story to help you raise venture capital and acquire customers. Visit www.rajnationinnovation.com and holler at me. I also host the Discover Your Inner Awesome Podcast — real convos with entrepreneurs, founders, artists and musicians to bring you the real side of success.