Every company has an ideal customer who’ll be excited about what you have to offer, and finding these customers is essential to business growth. To make sure that you’re developing products for the right group, you have to develop your target audience, which is a group of your ideal clients that you’ll base your future marketing decisions on.

Think about who exactly you’re trying to influence, then follow these five simple steps for identifying your target audience:

1. Create SMART goals

Have SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals in place that’ll drive your decisions. With these goals set, you can brainstorm an initial idea of what your target audience is. Think about the benefits of your product or service. What problem does it solve? What about it will drive someone to make the purchase?

2. Host focus groups

Focus groups give you the opportunity to hear from people who potentially make up your target demographic. These groups come together to give their opinions on a certain topic. According to ESOMAR, $809 million is spent on focus groups in the United States, a testament to their effectiveness in understanding audiences.

At the very beginning of your research, it’s a good idea to gather a wide range of people. You can learn a lot by doing this rather than focusing on a small subset.

3. Check-in on your competitors

Your competitors can give you an idea of what is working for their business, and you can take inspiration from their successes. Your competitors may have already developed their target audience, and it’ll be helpful to you when you start your own marketing campaign.

One way to check-in on your competitors is by viewing their current Facebook ads. To do this, visit the Facebook Ads Library and search for your competitor’s business name. If they have active Facebook ads, they’ll display here. Take note of the ad copy, image, and call-to-action. Pay attention to how long they’ve been running the ads—a longer-running ad likely means it converts well, which is good information to have.

Once you’ve identified your target audience, create your own Facebook ads. According to WebFX, Facebook ads have an average conversion rate of 9-10%.

4. View your analytics

Data-driven marketing has a high success rate so start by installing Google Analytics on your website. The benefits of Google Analytics include knowing how your visitors are moving through your website, the demographics and interests of your website visitors, and what terms someone is searching online before landing at your website.

Having all of this information and so much more can help identify your target audience and understand their needs.

5. Develop personas

Once you have taken the time to research your target audience, start to develop buyer personas. A persona is a profile you create of an imaginary buyer based on the research you’ve done up to this point. Buyer personas can be developed with standard demographics such as age, ethnicity, or level of education. Demographics can also go a little bit further to include their occupation, household income, and buying behaviors.

Knowing your target audience is important to make the most of your marketing budget. You’ll also feel more comfortable knowing that your offerings are on the right track for success.

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5 Simple Steps to Getting Started in The Cloud 1 - Florida Independent
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5 Simple Steps to Getting Started in The Cloud

All start-ups and small businesses have heard that the cloud is everywhere and can transform your business. But what is it and what can it do? Cloud-IT specialists Principal have the answers.

Confusingly, the cloud is used by providers, software sellers and businesses who want your money as a catch-all term for a variety of things. It can become quite complicated, but it doesn’t need to be.

The cloud is basically an on-demand storage or software resource that you can access immediately through the internet.

Tech giant IBM offers a handy definition of the various different types of cloud applications which is a good place to start. It’s likely that after reading that you’ll have more questions than you started with. To help, here are 5 simple steps to getting started in the cloud.

1. Pick your cloud

The first thing to clarify is, like the sky above, there isn’t one cloud – there are infinite numbers of potential clouds. As a business, you need to configure one that works for you.

As a small business you will want to focus on how the cloud can benefit you. For most, that’s likely to be moving certain data and applications to the cloud.

The first step is to analyse your data centre usage. This audit can identify your current software and storage requirements, enabling you to identify areas that could be better served in the cloud.

It’s important to recognise that to work any proposed move needs to improve efficiency and be cost-effective.

The bottom line is, if it won’t save you time or money, then think again.

2. Solid security

The cloud is as secure – if not more secure – than your own proprietary network, but you still need to be cautious.

Once you’ve identified the information and software you’d like to be hosted by the cloud then take the time to assess what this means for security.

The Data Protection Act and European Data Protection Regulation all have implications for how you manage and store data, and how you select your partners too – more on that below.

3. Simple strategy

Once you’ve done the groundwork, you can begin straight away. Microsoft, Adobe, SAP are just a couple of the huge names who have moved to providing software via the cloud. Dropbox is a leading name in cloud storage, but isn’t the only one.  All you need to do to get started in the cloud is get your credit card out and sign up.

If you do though, you could be making a mistake. According to tech bible ZDNet, what most cloud projects miss is a strategy – and we agree.

A solid cloud computing solution needs structure. This will help create a system that works for the organisation and your customer. It is also built with the future in mind, growing and developing as your business does.

4. Cloud culture

Your implementation strategy is important. Equally important is how your organisation embraces the cloud. It’s all about culture.

The cloud offers freedom to access information, work collaboratively, remotely and at all times of the day. But it comes with some new risks. These are particularly important to recognise as employees increasingly use their own devices for work.

Businesses need to develop working practices and approaches that are fit for the new world of the cloud. You’ll need to introduce new staff guidelines for document sharing and storage to help you and your employees work in a new way.

5. Provider or partner

If you’re tech minded it’s relatively easy to set-up a personal cloud, but you need to explore whether it’s the right approach for you.

Focusing solely on individual providers can leave you with a fragmented cloud system, with complex and inefficient interdependencies between different pieces of software from different providers.

In the end, you could end up paying for a system that far more complicated than the one it replaced.

One way of avoiding this is working with a partner who can help you configure a cloud solution that works for you. They can also take care of some of the security and access issues, helping you devise a strategy for success.

A successful transition to the cloud needs some thought and some planning, but genuinely does have the power to transform the way you work – increasing productivity, efficiency and profit.

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