Use Storytelling to Define Your Target Audience
When I was a kid, one of the homes we lived in didn’t have air conditioning. So every summer, my parents would set up a giant box fan to circulate air in the house. To entertain myself, I’d talk through the fan at my brother, giggling about how it made our voices and words sound all weird and funky. (Yes, kids, that’s what boredom looked like in the 1980s!)
I can’t help but think about that fan when I think about what it’s like communicating in today’s frenetic, buzzing digital landscape. Often when we put content out, it can feel as if we’re shouting through the blast of a fan, crossing our fingers and hoping our messages are understood and land somewhere lucrative in the midst of the deafening thrum.
Fortunately, there’s a more effective way and it begins with understanding your target audience. Not just kind of knowing them, but keenly knowing them like you know your BFF.
Why does understanding your ideal client matter?
The more details you can tease out about your target audience members, the more you can capture their attention and build a relationship with them. You’ll communicate with clarity and in a way that emphasizes your ability to recognize and empathize with their pain points. Plus, you’ll be better positioned to create appealing offers and deliverables that get heard and not lost in the noise.
You know you’re on the right track when you start receiving comments like: “It’s as if you are in my head!” “You get me!” “I’m so relieved I found you!”
Using an exercise some authors play with to sketch out a character, let’s sketch out your ideal client and create their story. Think of this person as the protagonist or hero of the story.
So grab a piece of paper or your journal, a pen and a beverage of your choice and let’s get started.
Who is your ideal client?
This person might resemble a current ideal client or could be a composite of several of your favorite clients. If you don’t have any clients yet, this person is the person you envision will get the most value out of what you have to offer. Here are some prompts and questions to help you get started:
- Give your ideal client a name.
- Describe this person’s appearance.
- About how old is she?
- What does she do for a living? (Where is she at in her career if she has one?)
- Education level?
- What is her family life look like?
- Describe her lifestyle. (How many hours a week does she work? Well-off or struggling? Is she mostly sedentary? Active? What does she typically eat?)
- What matters to her in life and/or what are her values?
- How does she desire to show up in the world?
- Who are the thought leaders/influencers she looks up to?
- Who does she follow on social media?
- What are her favorite brands?
- How does she typically consume content? (i.e., books, magazines, YouTube, podcasts, etc.)
What’s bugging her?
Articulate your client’s problems. What are her worries? What keeps her up at night? What frustrates her? What are the internal and external struggles holding her back from the life she dreams about?
What’s triggering her?
In every story there is an inciting incident. The inciting incident occurs when a problem is staring the protagonist in the face, and she is unsure how to resolve it.
Although she’s tried to ignore the problem, it won’t go away. The problem is like a gremlin, constantly biting at her ankles with its sharp little teeth. It’s making her life more and more painful. She can’t sleep. She’s stressed all of the time. And, it’s sucking her time and energy away from what she’d really like to be doing.
Because your ideal client is now so sick and tired of dealing with this stubborn, painful issue, she finally decides to pull the trigger and find help.
Describe your ideal customer’s inciting incident—what finally tips her over the edge to decide it’s time to find someone like you to help?
To ensure you’re on the right track, do additional research. Ask three or four past clients, who you enjoyed working with, if you can ask them a few questions. Tell them you are working to better serve your target audience and would love to get some of their insights.
If you are just starting out and don’t know anyone personally who fits your ideal client profile, ask friends for introductions or post a question on social media or in online communities that you belong to (if it’s allowed). Be specific. Here’s an example:
“I help women experiencing postpartum depression by offering guidance grounded in creative healing modalities and community. I’m working on developing valuable content and resources and would like to chat with anyone who has ever experienced PPD. Please private message me if you are interested in sharing 30 minutes of your time and answering a few questions.”
Often people are only too happy to help, especially because almost everyone loves the opportunity to share their stories, opinions and advice with someone willing to listen.
After the chat, consider sending a thank you note and a small token of gratitude for their time, like a $5-$10 gift card to a coffee shop or online store.
By knowing your ideal customer inside and out:
- You can better position your business as the guide and go-to resource for your target audience.
- You’ll write more engaging, personable content that responds to their problems.
- You’ll attract clients who you not only want to work with, but who value you and what you offer.