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Like it or lump it target demographic matters.

January 3, 2013

When I’m talking to a brand owner I always add the following into the conversation:

  • Do you know who buys your products in terms of sex, age, location etc?
  • Paint me a picture of your absolute target customer.
  • Can you sum up in one sentence what makes your brand special?
Stick figure cup

Stick figures may be cute but there just isn’t enough detail for them to be a target demographic. You need to know your audience inside out. Make them real, stick their life on your wall and breathe it in. MMmmmmmmm now you’re talking!

and I often get the look of ‘oh my gawdness’ in return.

and that’s OK because for three years I had the absolute inability to sum up what Realize Beauty was.  I could tell everyone what it was not,  could dribble on about what I wanted it to be but could not answer the above questions with any authority.  Oh and when asked about my target audience I would say something like “well anyone really, anyone who wants to know a little bit more about cosmetic science but in a fun way”  The consequence – blog tumbleweed, bank account drought, personal angst, public nothingness and that’s rather wearing on ones sanity after months and months of effort and hard currency.

So, what happened to change all that for me?

As with any overnight success it wasn’t an overnight success and is still what I’d call a ‘work in progress’.  I just kept plugging away at my blog with a blind passion and enthusiasm only found in the young and ‘businessly’ naive and you know what, people started to like it.   Of course people started to like it, when you do what you love with passion and keep doing it you (usually) get better,  stronger, more confident and that energy and buzz attracts others some like-minded some not.

Sorting out the ‘this is just great, I’ll support and enjoy it’ from the  ‘this is great I want to ‘buy’ a piece of it’ or ‘this is great I want to take it over’  and ‘this is great but it would be so much better if they did it my way’ was hard and made harder by the fact that I wasn’t 100% who I was and as such my business and personal boundaries were weak.

I wanted to make sure that I listened (good business always listens)  to everyone and took things on board but I didn’t realise that many of the people who were talking didn’t have my best interests at heart – I had what they thought was a cash cow and they wanted to milk it.

I eventually worked this out and thankfully before I’d given anything too precious away.  I think with me my instinct kicked in but not before they were trampled on a little.

And once I’d worked that out other things started to work.

I started listening to the right people, took a few opportunities that I’d previously snubbed as not really being what I wanted and rolled up my sleeves.  Things started to work and as I worked I started to ‘find’ the answers to my own questions:

  • Do you know who buys your products in terms of sex, age, location etc?

Yes, my blog is read all over the world with my largest audience being in the US then Australia and the UK.   My readers are mostly female and aged in their thirties, are business owners, beauty bloggers or media professionals and who seek my information both for their own education and enjoyment and for work.  

My blog serves as an advert for my consulting business.  Consulting customers are also based all over the world but this time (for obvious reasons) the majority are in Australia, are skin care focused businesses and are looking for a better connection with their customers (on a technical level). 

  • Paint me a picture of your absolute target customer. 

Well this is easy now.  I like working with brands that have a clear idea of what they want – they may not have achieved it completely yet but it is visualised.  They have the money to pay for my time and knowledge and appreciate and value what I bring to the table.  They also appreciate that brand development takes time and can be unpredictable. They want a long-term business relationship (obviously as we are talking about businesses the sex and age are irrelevant for me, not so for a skin care brand). 

  • Can you sum up in one sentence what makes your brand special?

Realize Beauty is about communicating chemistry both hands-on and via the written word  in an honest, accurate, thoughtful, understandable and engaging way without prejudice. 

But what about you?  What can you and your brand do?

Well look, the journey is different for everyone but the best advice I can give you is this:

  1. Be honest with yourself.  There is no shame in wanting to create a brand just so that it makes s**T loads of money – no shame but lots and lots of work.
  2. Critically evaluate what you have already produced and be prepared to accept that it may be wrong or need tweaking.
  3. Give it 110% in terms of effort and accept that in the early days you may feel like you are hitting your head against a brick wall from time to time.
  4. Work hard on building up an image of your perfect client.  Pinterest is great in this regard and we have some starter boards to help you which I’ll talk about later.  Visualise the person, their lifestyle, the clothes that they wear, their income, their family status, how they spend their free time. EVERYTHING.  This will help you set the right tone in terms of language, pack shape/ size/ colour and price point.
  5. Get professional help before making critical, brand changing decisions.

Professional help can come from all sorts of places.  I love helping brands but no longer have the time or resources to hold people’s hands through the ‘who am I’ stage – I tend to work with the ‘I’m this, help me grow and improve.  However, others do and I would thoroughly recommend joining a course or hooking up with a community or mentor that can sit with you over coffee and brainstorm (or at least listen to you offload).

I work with a company here in Australia called New Directions and they have an excellent workshop for this sort of thing:   The Private Label Interactive with Melinda Tizzone.  Being in Sydney, Australia will obviously be a barrier to some of my readers but I’d take note of what this course covers and go ask your local cosmetic society if they can recommend somewhere locally that would do the same.   You can find your local cosmetic chemists society here at the IFSCC members page.     Here in Australia we also have another local business that offers training called the Institute of Personal Care Science.  They offer both on-line and face-to-face training for individuals and businesses.

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