I love the questions I get from brand and target market presentations.  To me, these aspects of marketing are the fundamentals, and if we have questions about fundamentals they NEED to get answered.  A great one came up today about how to identify your audience’s pain points, and I want to dig into this one here and show you 5 ways to research your audience’s pain points!

Once you know who your target markets are, knowing what they need to hear from you is the core driver of getting their attention.  Getting your audience’s attention is the necessary precursor to generating sales.

Getting your audience’s attention is the necessary precursor to generating sales. #biztips #business #salestips #marketing #smallbusiness #smallbiz #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

When you think about it, the primary concern of the members of your audience is how you will address their pain points.  How will you make the world a better place for them?  And how will you do it differently from your competitors?

In order to answer this question for them, you need to know the answer yourself.  In fact, sometimes you need to know their current or future pain better than they do, because they might not have articulated it yet for themselves.

We don’t just automatically know our audience’s pain points.  It takes research.  It takes getting to know them and their behavior.  But how do you do that?

We don’t just automatically know our audience’s pain points. It takes research. #business #smallbusiness #smallbiz #entrepreneur #marketing #biztips Click To Tweet

To get you thinking, here are 5 ways to research your audience’s pain points that may work for your business:

#1: Talk to Existing Customers

I’ll start with the obvious.  If you have existing customers, they are a great resource.  You can send them a survey by email right now and get answers immediately.  You’ll get more answers if you incentivize the process in some way.  Alternatively, you could ask them a question at some point during the sales or delivery process of your offering.

Your answers will be skewed in a variety of ways from this process, not the least of which is that you are inherently only getting feedback from people who felt you were addressing their pain points already.  There are others out there who perhaps didn’t buy from you because they didn’t feel what you sold was the right option.  You want to find a way to get feedback from them too!

However, if you have customers, talk to them.  Not only are they likelier to give you more detail about their needs and experiences, but asking them their thoughts and listening for their answers will help strengthen your relationship.

#2: Create a Focus Group

An offshoot of #1, creating a focus group is a means of getting more of a cross-section of input.  These people could be in your circle, or they could be people you source from other audiences.  Either way, you are inviting them to share their thoughts about their pain points and what they would like to see in the world.

This may be a chance to reach out to your partners, to more distant connections, or to 2nd-degree connections.  Again, incentives usually help for getting more response, but if a trusted source of theirs is referring you, it will help your response rate anyway.

Not only are you expanding and strengthening your network by opening up these conversations, but you are also cultivating a beta test group.  Plus, these people could become referral sources for you as you put their wishes into motion down the road.

#3: Ask the Gatekeeper

For those of you who don’t fear direct networking, this is one more option that requires active conversation.  I’m always a fan of remembering the gatekeepers out there, and this is a great time to think of them!

If you are in B2B sales, gatekeepers hold the keys to the decision makers.  They probably also have a ton of information about what the decision makers are looking for, what pain points they are facing, and what types of solutions would be welcome.  Why not make them part of your process?

Asking for their feedback means you are respecting their opinion.  Honestly, not everyone shows them that respect.  This is a chance for them to speak their minds and be heard.  In addition to the fact that they have valuable insight for you, this is a means of building a relationship that you may be grateful for later when you need help putting the offering in front of a decision maker. If you want to read more about how gatekeepers can factor into your marketing plan, read here!

#4: Study Your Competition or Your Partners

If networking or cold outreach are too uncomfortable for you – and a lot of people find them uncomfortable, I know – let’s look at a couple of options that allow for privately-conducted research.

Although you can’t assume that any one business has all the answers, you can look for trends.  I would recommend making two lists for yourself: one of competing businesses and one of businesses with a similar target market.  Both of these types of businesses have good information for you to track.

For competing businesses, don’t just look for the ones that are competing directly with you.  You can look at businesses in other locations, businesses reaching audience’s with a different budget, or any other factor that may distinguish their target market from yours.  Note their offerings and how they talk about them.  What strikes you?  What pain points does this suggest?  What do you see in common?  What do you see missing?

On the other hand, there is also knowledge to be gained from studying potential partners who have compatible products or services.  If they have the same market, see how they are talking to your audience.  What kinds of pain points are they highlighting in their copy?  What kind of pitches are they making.  Do you see trends?

Again, just because one business is saying something doesn’t mean they have landed on the right answer.  But look for trends and see what information you can glean from it!

#5: Social Media and Online Behavior Research

Here’s another one that you can do without having to interface with people!  There is so much for us to learn from online research if we get creative.

Social media can give you a wealth of target market research.  It is a place to gauge behavior and interests.  Find individuals who are representative of your target market.  What businesses or influencers do they follow?  What pages are those pages following?  What hashtags do they use?  What conversation do you see happening on that hashtag?  Instead of delving too deeply into one person’s behavior, let it take you down a rabbit hole part of the way.  Then start the process again with another case study.  Track what you learn and see if there are trends to be found.

Social media can give you a wealth of target market research. #business #biztips #smallbusiness #smallbiz #entrepreneur #marketing Click To Tweet

You also might find value in looking up similar products on e-commerce sites.  What comes up as “recently viewed” or “also recommended?” These fields are populated by algorithms that are making best guesses based on their visitors’ or buyers’ behavior.  If nothing else, it may give you some good clues to follow!

Remember, your audience is only going to see value in what you sell if you are making their lives better in some way.  Often, this has to do with addressing pain points and making it clear that you can help.

But before you can communicate it, you have to know what ails them.  There is no replacement for doing the research, and I hope these 5 ways to research your audience’s pain points gives you some ideas to help you get started!

And if you are looking for more tips what to do once you have identified their pain points, read here!