Any blogger or online entrepreneur wants to appeal to an audience. You have to find your niche to find readers, right? And if you have expertise or products to sell, you hope to turn some of those readers into buyers.
Finding readers and turning them into buyers doesn’t happen overnight. It takes some effort to find the right formula. We can take a few lessons from marketers and advertisers, especially if we didn’t come from that world before we started blogging. In the end, that’s what we need to do: market and advertise that we have knowledge, expertise, or products that will help our niche.
If you’re a blogger, and you’re trying to sell your own products, you need to understand why your customers buy. To better understand your potential customers’ buying behavior, it helps to understand the factors that influence people’s buying decisions.
Cultural, social, personal and psychological characteristics are one group of factors. Of those, culture is the most basic determinant of a person’s wants and behavior. Culture is so important because we learn our perceptions, behaviors and basic values and wants from our cultural institutions, such as church, school and family.
America is made up of many subcultures, such as racial groups, religious groups, age groups, immigrant groups and people from geographical areas. Marketers track cultural changes so they can develop new products and target various cultures. Bloggers who are trying to sell can do this, too. Figure out which part of the culture is most likely to buy your products or services, and target it.
Another important determinant in buying behavior is social class, which is determined by income, education and occupation. Members of a particular social class share values, behaviors, interests and buying behavior. If you want to target a particular social class, knowing what each class shares can help you market your expertise.
Groups are another factor in influencing buying decisions. People are either members of a group or aspire to be part of a group. Groups have a direct or indirect influence on our behaviors and attitudes. They expose us to new behaviors and lifestyles, making us want to “fit in.”
We all belong to groups. Think about it: Are you involved in a club or organization, a volunteer group, or a support group? Are you in a blogging or freelancer’s group? If you’re employed by a company, that’s a group. Your family, your neighborhood, your city, your grade school and high school class and your church are all examples of groups.
A membership group is a group we currently belong to that has a direct influence on us. An aspirational group is a group we want to belong to, but we don’t. When we don’t belong to a group, that also influences us because we either wish we were a part of that group, or we disdain the group.
Advertisers try to identify the reference groups of the target market they are trying to reach. If you’re trying to find customers, you can research your audience to find out which groups they belong to, then use that information in your marketing efforts.
You can also use a strategy from advertisers, which is to create audience needs and meet them. You’ve probably heard of Abraham Maslow’s famous “Hierarchy of Needs.” He described five levels of needs that you can appeal to: physiological, safety, social, self-esteem and self-actualization. You can point out these needs and center your products around solutions that will meet them.
A couple of other needs not covered by Maslow can also be a way to appeal to your customers. Stimulation is the need to find life interesting and have a variety of experiences. It’s the things people do for enjoyment. Acquisition is the need to buy goods and services that go beyond basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. In other words: stuff. We all buy things we want, but don’t really need, even if we try to live a frugal and non-materialistic life.
If you’re trying to create an online business or monetize your blog, you need to know where and how to market what you have to sell. Learning about the culture, social class, group memberships and needs of your audience can help you identify the most likely customers.
Once you figure out who your ideal customer is, you can find the right formula to sell your expertise to your niche of readers.
Readers, what lessons have you learned in trying to market products and services to your customers? Have you been successful in establishing an online business? Let us know in the comments!