Getting to Know Your Audience and Industry
How do you really perform a target audience analysis? What does this even mean? How do you really become familiar with your industry?
If you take any business courses or read famous business articles, particularly about entrepreneurship, you hear these questions all the time. From a shallow evaluation (but not bad), people say, “Get familiar with your industry! Know your audience!” These questions are extremely important to answer, especially if you’re thinking about starting your own business. But has anyone ever gone into real depth of how they got to know their audience? How they learned about their industry, what it looked like, how it worked, and the ins n’ outs of it?
Imagine you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, and have the chance to speak to a competent and successful entrepreneur. What kind of questions come to thought? Here are some I can think of, although you don’t often find these in typical business articles, classes, or books (from my experience). And again, it’s not bad, but it’s also nice to have some mix between practicality, experience, and theory.
How did you meet those people?
How did you persuade them to do that?!
How did you get those skills?
How did you know that was the place to go?
How did you make your first sale?
How did you know how to price your product or service?
How did you find a manufacturer?
How did you design your product?
How did you get money to start this?
How did you find those opportunities?
I remember, years ago, I pictured “getting to know your audience and industry” in a Hollywood sense. Lock yourself up in a room for days and sit behind a computer, and google it. With enough willpower and time, you can find out all you need. Then, you go create one of those maps on your wall with all the pins and strings and pictures (like they do when trying to solve some murder case). Goodness, research on your computer is certainly helpful, but there’s so much more to this.
Last year, in preparation for becoming a SEED Intern in Ghana, Africa, I read my professor’s book Main Street Entrepreneur. I thoroughly enjoyed this short to middle-sized read, comparatively speaking with other entrepreneur books I’ve attempted (and put down). Main Street Entrepreneur's mixture and balance between business theories and concepts, real world practicality, and life journey stories help properly paint a picture of what entrepreneurship and innovative thinking looks like, including target audience and industry analysis. In particular, I enjoyed learning about the three origins of most entrepreneurs.
To understand this properly, I’d like to paint a framework around this.
Most entrepreneur’s businesses flop within the first year of running.
Of the small percent that survive for a year, most flop within the first five years.
Of the small percent that last five years, most will will flop within ten years.
Note* - I replaced the exact percentages with “most” and “small percent” because I’m looking the study I referenced this from, and want to be exact.
Most successful entrepreneurs start a business not just based on an idea, but on an opportunity. These opportunities often present themselves because somehow the person is immersed in an environment that yields feedback, that is, good and poor results to a particular process or way of doing things. Those results spur thought and creativity, which then generates ideas.
If you pair that idea with good reception of the environment, you have an opportunity. Opportunity can almost always be capitalized on.
With that in mind, here are the three origins of most entrepreneurs:
- An individual works in a particularly industry for some amount of time, is exposed to feedback, and finds an opportunity where they can capitalize on something.
e.g. - A person who works in kitchen appliances hears feedback from customers for years about kitchen appliances, and sees an opportunity. Perhaps another product could be produced? Perhaps something is missing. Perhaps something is too expensive, or too cheap, and doesn’t need to be.
Most entrepreneurs are created this way. They first conceptualize their idea in the industry they already work in.
- A customer to the industry sees an opportunity that the industry hasn’t provided. They jump in.
A decent amount of entrepreneurs find their idea from this exposure.
- A person just had as an idea, or sees a gap somewhere, and fills it.
A very small portion of entrepreneurs come find their idea this way.
Do you want to really get to know your audience and your industry? Then work in it, or shop in it for as long as you possibly can. This is why most entrepreneurs create businesses in the same industry they worked in prior to starting their own business; they understand processes, have connections, are familiar with pricing and marketing (somewhat perhaps), and have feedback. Not by chance, these types of entrepreneurs tend to have much higher success rates, too.
Entrepreneurs who are customers to an industry have high amounts of feedback too, and often have similar success rates. The first two types of entrepreneurs tend to yield much higher success rates than the third.
This type of environment perfectly sets you up to understand your audience and industry, because you are the industry or you are the audience to that industry. With more time and exposure as one of those, the chances of you starting a business with mitigated risk is much higher than someone who doesn’t know all the ins n’ outs. For some of these people so well integrated, starting a business is just voluntarily choosing more responsibility and leadership.
A crucial part of becoming an entrepreneur is to know your target audience and be familiar with your industry, and I hope that I’ve helped you understand how so many entrepreneurs best do that.
Glauser, M. (2016). Main Street Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur Press.