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Preparing Your Startup for a Shift in Audience

If you suspect you’re targeting the wrong audience, determining the problem you actually solve and identifying who will ultimately use your solution is only half the equation. You need to retarget!
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How to Prepare Your Startup for a Shift in Audience

When you started your business, you entered the marketplace ready to solve a specific problem for your audience. It’s the whole point of any business, really — to provide a solution to a specific customer’s problem.

Unfortunately, startups sometimes struggle with this definition and try to sell their products or services to the wrong market. Maybe you started without a clear vision of who your target market actually was, or maybe your idea became a sleeper hit among a group of people you never would have imagined.

If you suspect you’re targeting the wrong audience, determining the problem you actually solve and identifying who will ultimately use your solution is only half the equation. You also need to prepare your team for a shift in target market.

How to Prepare for a New Audience

To ensure that your transition is a successful one, you can’t just unilaterally declare that you’re going in a new direction. That’s the fastest way to scare and confuse your team. To avoid mass chaos, you should:

1. Involve everybody in the shift.

If everybody isn’t going in the same direction, the shift in target market will never work. Your people need to be part of the process, so listen to what everybody has to say as you work to identify a new market and create a plan of action. Remember, employees are often closer to consumers and can provide valuable insight into why people choose your product or service.

2. Find new distribution points.

As you work to identify a new audience, match your target market with the people who serve that audience. When you marry these two groups, you can get your message out and grow your business exponentially.

3. Educate staff on the new market.

Your people understand your current audience, but you can’t expect them to understand the new one overnight. If you ever hope to solve problems for consumers, help your team get to know this new audience. Give them an idea of your audience’s wants and needs, as well as their values and purchase behaviors.

4. Communicate to a narrow audience.

Don’t just broadcast your message to anyone who will listen. This mentality is what got you into the problem of trying to sell to the wrong market in the first place. Instead of spreading your message far and wide, go narrow and deep to target people who fall within your audience or those who could be in that audience.

When you tap into the right market, you make your business more relevant to more people. You also give your company an opportunity to solve similar problems for other audiences and expand in the marketplace.

Take Coca-Cola, for example. Its product started out as a patent medicine that was only available in drugstores. When Robert Woodruff’s family purchased the company in 1919, they started a bottling and franchising operation for the product across the country.

During World War II, Woodruff decided to make Coca-Cola a worldwide sensation by putting free Coke on the ships going to Europe. Not only did the move provide Coca-Cola to soldiers overseas, but it also exposed the product to an entirely new market.

Without offering your solution to the correct audience, you risk endangering your company’s longevity. But switching audiences isn’t something you can do overnight. Your approach, your message, your tone, and your platforms need to adjust to the market you’re talking to. That means you must prepare your team to tackle your new audience and arm them with the information they need.

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