Identifying Your Target Audience (Online City Guides)

People trump numbers every time.

When you begin to do niche research don’t make the mistake of obsessing over the numbers. Focus on a group of people who have a certain need that you can meet better than anyone else.

Like a lot of internet marketer, my first inclination is to immediately jump into keyword research when doing niche analysis. Keyword research, once you understand its power, can be addicting.

However, more important than knowing the keywords that people are searching for is identifying the people themselves.

The most important step in niche analysis is identifying your target audience.

Consider these questions:

  • Who are you serving?
  • What are their greatest needs?
  • What unique solution do you have for their needs?
  • Where do they hang out?
  • How can you reach them?
  • What kinds of things do they like to talk about?

These are all questions you will want to answer when you research a niche. I don’t advocate for research that just tries to exploit niche markets that could give you a competitive advantage.

One of the principles that I promote in digital marketing is never to forget the people you serve and the problems you solve. If you lose sight of the people and the problem/need, you won’t be able to find fulfillment in your work.

And if your work isn’t fulfilling, it isn’t worth doing.

Identifying the Target Audience for Online City Guides

So who are the visitors to the websites that offer online guides to cities around the world?

Let’s do a little brainstorming writing down all the groups of people that come to mind. Hold nothing back. Just write down all of your ideas.

Here is what I came up with in just a few minutes:

  • travelers
  • single travelers
  • single traveling entrepreneurs
  • single traveling business men and women
  • single travelers on vacation
  • married travelers on vacation
  • married travelers on a honeymoon
  • married travelers attending a wedding
  • married travelers looking to relocate
  • newly married couple looking for things to do in their local city
  • singles looking for things to do in their local city
  • families with kids looking for things to do in their local city
  • families traveling on vacation

The list above is just an open brainstorming session. At this stage we want to keep our options open before we pinpoint the audience with the greatest need or the best fit for the solutions we can offer.

In general, this stage is about identifying a broad audience (travelers or local residents) and continually targeting smaller groups (single travelers, married travelers, family travelers) in specific situations (married travelers on vacation). As you focus your audience, the market will get smaller (there will be less people to reach) but the more targeted you become the more likely you are to find a place in your niche.

Identifying your Target Audience

Even if you expand to target all of these groups later down the road, it is important to focus your content on one specific group with a specific need to find the greatest results.

Eventually, we’ll look at each of the groups to determine:

1) Is there an audience?
2) Is the market big enough to earn money for our time?
3) Can I gain a competitive advantage over the others in the market?

Cleveland Case Study: Who is the Audience?

As I mentioned in the last post of this series, we are going to focus on the city of Cleveland as a case study. I have not done any competitive research into this market yet. I don’t know what websites are out there meeting the needs of any of the people we will consider. Right now we’re just at the brainstorming stage.

Who would benefit the most from an online city guide for Cleveland?

Here is what I know about the city of Cleveland:

Cleveland is not exactly a vacation destination. I grew up about 45 minutes from Cleveland so I know that the city draws visitors from a large number of cities and small towns. People head into the city for Indians games, Cavs games (please, no LeBron jokes), and Browns games. They head to the Flats or the Warehouse District for a night out. The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame is a popular attraction in the city as well.

I don’t get the sense that any of the things above are family-friendly. This could mean there is an opportunity to serve the families searching for things to do in Cleveland. Maybe families have a hard time finding things to do and need some help. Or maybe there aren’t enough families looking to head to Cleveland for some fun. In this case, we might decide to shift our focus away from “Cleveland” to a geographic area like “Northeast Ohio” for families.

There does seem to be a lot to do for singles in Cleveland. There might be a large market for content that would help Cleveland residents explore the nightlife.

Here are some possible audiences that we might focus on:

  • twenty-something singles looking for nightlife scene
  • Cleveland sports fans
  • families looking for activities around Cleveland
  • young married couples looking for date night ideas
  • local business people looking for lunch and networking opportunities

How do we decide which group to help? We will use keyword research and competitive analysis to understand who the audience is and how we can enter the marketplace.

This post is part of a niche analysis series of Online City Guides.

Niche Analysis: Online City Guides

At Analyze Niche you will find in depth analyses of various online communities, markets, niches, etc. The goal is to show a step-by-step process that bloggers and businesses can use to research and strategically plan how they will successfully attract traffic, build a list, develop a community, and make money with a website.

Online City Guides This month we will analyze online city guides. These websites and blogs give readers ideas for things to do, places to be, places to visits, restaurants to try, fun activities for the kids, and community events.

This analysis will be organized as a blog series. What is a blog series? John Saddington at Tentblogger is the blog series guru. He provides a great explanation here: How to Create a Blog Series and Why You Need Them.

Online City Guides Analysis

This is the first in-depth niche analysis so I am excited to pilot this little experiment. Whether you are interested in entering this niche yourself or curious about the Analyze Niche process, follow along and subscribe to the blog.

  1. Is the Online City Guide Right for Me?
  2. City Guide Niche Brainstorming: Identify Your Target Audience
  3. Baseline Keyword Research: Things to do in Cleveland
  4. Niche Market Research: Defining the Target Audience
  5. Competitive Analysis: Local Events Blogs
  6. Developing a Unique Local City Guide Website
  7. Website Strategic Planning: Local Events (Outlining the Strategic Flowchart)
  8. City Guide Blog Networking
  9. City Guide SEO
  10. City Guide Content Creation
  11. City Guide List-building
  12. City Guide Community Building
  13. City Guide Monetization
  14. Go Mobile: A Unique App Experience for City Guide Publishers

If at any point you have any specific questions, just let me know!