Becoming a Pro B2B Software Development Firm with Target Audience Analysis: Tools - Part 2
Updated: Aug 19
Retrospective from Part 1 and Introduction to Part 2
You already know that audience research tools and customer development are crucial to the success of any business. Do you?
By gaining actionable insights into your target audience's wants, needs, pain points, and challenges, you can make informed decisions to grow your company. These tools help you:
✅ understand your customers,
✅ improve your sales and marketing strategies,
✅ enhance your existing services,
✅ create new offerings, and …
✅ build strong relationships with your customers.
In short, they provide valuable insights into your target audience and set the stage for successful sales, your marketing campaigns, and overall business development.
Today, we will dive deeper into techniques that every software development company or professional services provider should incorporate into their processes.
The first step in building your audience is to define your target audiences, ideal clients and buyer personas.
If you are unclear at this stage, go to my previous article and do your homework or book a meeting to learn how we can help you.
Once you know who you want to work with, you can start a more comprehensive analytical process...
Tools of the Trade for Conducting Best-in-Class Audience Analysis
We will have a deep dive on
Prospects and clients' interviews.
Keep reading to find the Excalibur of success :)
CRM Analysis: Peek-a-Boo into Your Customer's Mind
You are not using CRM for your sales now? You see, correct that mistake ASAP. CRM is a tool that supports the process of marketing, sales and customer success in your company, so it is a broader topic than you think.
I work on HubSpot, a complex tool for sales, marketing, automation and more. However, if you choose a CRM, please check at least those two more solutions: LiveSpace and Pipedrive.
When you set and maintain your CRM properly, you can screen your top prospects and customers to verify the communication between you / your team and them. What questions have they asked? What were the notes about service requirements and offer acceptance or rejection? All those are excellent sources of information for business development and your marketing efforts.
If you ask questions like: What are your 3 top priority challenges you would like to discuss during the meeting? What are your expectations regarding our service?
You can get great non-biased consumer insights on your prospects' challenges.
When utilising a CRM, the first step in your audience research or customer development should be to analyse the readily available data. Delve into the details, examining what your customers are satisfied with and what their concerns are. This information is invaluable, serving as a conclusion to the exercise and an introductory step to conducting in-person or online interviews.
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Review Mining: Digging for Gold in Customer Feedback
Review mining is a research method that analyses customer reviews and feedback online. Review mining is keyword research / idea research that aims to gather insights into what customers think about a company's products or services, direct and indirect competition, sources of expertise, and identify areas for improvement.
I recently learned about this hilarious tactic from Joanna Wiebe from Copyhackers. She brilliantly described the tactic in her article, and I will try to apply that tactic for your needs, my dear CEO or CMO of a software development company :)
For a software development company, review mining can be a valuable tool for customer development. For example, by analysing customer reviews found on online marketplaces or social media platforms, the company can understand what users think about their service, what features they like or dislike, and what they think could be improved. This information can be used to make informed decisions about the direction of product development and marketing strategies.
For instance, if a software company finds many users complaining about slow loading times or complicated navigation, they can prioritise fixing these issues in their next software update. Or, if they see that users are requesting new features, they can consider adding those features to their roadmap.
By regularly monitoring and analysing customer reviews, a software development company can ensure that its products and services meet the needs of its target audience and make necessary improvements to stay ahead of the competition.
Let’s roll to another example and imagine your buyer persona is a Product Manager from a B2B software product company. If you want to better understand jobs and challenges Product Managers face, you can:
Find a resource that delivers knowledge to Product Managers.
Find a place where the such resource might be reviewed (YouTube channels, Amazon, Rate&review platforms etc.).
Go through the reviews, and analyse them, find inspiration.
Develop your content, service etc., accordingly.
I’ve learned that one of the most respected books for Product Managers is Cracking the PM Interview: How to Land a Product Manager Job in Technology by Gayle Laakmann McDowell and Jackie Bavaro.
I’ve found it Amazon (HERE) and found a very extensive review of the book from 2017 that received 141 votes from readers that claimed it to be helpful.
I will not highlight content ideas for your company, as there are so many of them in that comment, so you should read, check and think about what might work for your audience.
Social Listening: Hunting Your Customer's Thoughts
Social listening is the process of monitoring and analysing online conversations, comments, and feedback from social media platforms to gain insights into the perceptions and experiences of customers, prospects, and the general public. In the software development business, social listening can help companies to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and changes in their target market, understand customer needs, and improve their products and services accordingly.
Many online tools dedicated to social listening can be used to monitor and analyse online conversations and feedback. Some popular tools for social listening include
Brand24: This social listening tool allows you to monitor online mentions of your brand and receive real-time notifications. You can also track the sentiment of online conversations and analyse the performance of your social media campaigns.
Hootsuite Insights: This social media monitoring tool helps you track and analyse social conversations, hashtags, and keywords across multiple platforms. You can also set up alerts for specific keywords and hashtags and get real-time insights into the sentiment of online conversations.
Mention: This social media monitoring tool allows you to monitor online conversations and mentions of your brand, competitors, and industry. You can also analyse the sentiment of online conversations and track the performance of your social media campaigns.
Sprout Social: This social media management tool helps you monitor online conversations and mentions of your brand, competitors, and industry. You can also analyse the sentiment of online conversations and get real-time insights into the performance of your social media campaigns.
Let's check how it can work for you, and I am using Brand24.com.
I will use a keyword ‘MVP development’ as it might be your service, and you may be interested in what is a priority of your clients is, what their problems are and what they need to solve despite developing an MVP.
Here we check if the topic resonates on the web.
We can see on which platforms “MVP Development” appears and what the numbers are.
Here is the most recent answer to one of the threads on Twitter.
You can see how popular the topic is and how many likes and comments it has.
Now you go into the thread to learn what the community thinks about.
My takeaway for ‘MVP development’ is that when you support your clients with a solution that will help them find first clients, then you win.
This information might result in your new service line, communication, content idea, partnership etc. …
Do you see chances for your company?
Clients interviews: Queen and King of Marketing and Sales
Are you surprised? Too basic? Or obsolete in the era of real-time digital marketing analytics?
Speaking with people in person or on zoom is the most powerful and effective way to learn their needs, problems, and challenges and, thus, your chances to build communication and business. In a time when we optimise and digitalise almost everything, meeting people can be paralysing.
Have you heard about "The Startup Owner's Manual. The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company", by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf? It is a bible for startup founders. The book was written to help founders build successful technology products. The process can be successfully applied to building a service company.
In the book, Steve Blank and Bob Dorf emphasise the importance of customer discovery and validation in building a successful company. They stress that entrepreneurs must engage in the process of continuous customer research to truly understand their target audience and validate the need for their product or service. This helps to ensure that resources are being directed towards building a solution that meets a real need in the market rather than blindly pursuing a flawed concept.
"Go out of the building" is a term frequently used in the book to emphasise the importance of getting out and talking to customers in customer discovery and validation. This means actively seeking out and engaging with potential customers to gather information about their needs, pain points, and behaviours. By going out of the building and talking to customers, entrepreneurs can validate their assumptions and collect valuable data that can inform the development of their product or service. In the context of audience research and customer discovery, "going out of the building" means taking the time to actively engage with potential customers, understand their needs, and gather the data necessary to make informed decisions about product development and content strategy.
Straight from the startup bible: Essential Questions and Tools for Client Interviews
Here is a sample of questions you can ask and topics you can discuss during the meeting:
What are the critical problems in your industry?
What does our service solves/doesn’t’ solve for you?
Rate the problems.
I have a magic wand, and service would appear that …
How do you buy the products?
How do you learn about the products?
Who is involved in the purchase?
Where do you learn about the solutions to your problems?
Alan Hale's Secret to Turning Clients into Raving Fans
Being close to your clients can drag them from commodity buyers to raving fans of your brand. The process leading to this transformation will give you a complete picture of your clients’ needs and will help you craft communication and give ideas for content marketing strategy.
The term "Raving Fans" was coined by best-selling author and business consultant Ken Blanchard in his book "Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service." and it is popularised and used by respected strategy consultants like Alan Hale. Creating raving fans refers to turning your company's audience into loyal, enthusiastic supporters who not only regularly use your products or services but also spread positive word-of-mouth about your brand to others. By implementing a constant customer discovery process and consistently improving your products and services based on customer feedback, you can create a positive customer experience that leads to a dedicated following of raving fans.
It is about pushing your tech company from the bottom of the pyramid to the top of it.
You do that push by interviewing your clients and acting on the findings you will have.
Meet > Ask > Act
Alan Hale suggests a fundamental set of questions to use. The power is in simplicity:
What do you like in our service?
Where do we need to improve?
What are the most important criteria for selecting the service?
What improvements do you want to see in the product?
How responsive are we to post transaction support, both customer service and technical support?
How do we compare to the competition?
What should we do more of?
What should we stop doing as it is of limited value to you?
You must drill down to the root cause and then act on them. Here is an example of such a drill-down conversation:
What were the most important criteria for selecting the service?
Effective communication between the PM on your side and the Product Owner on our side.
How would you rate us on communication on a 1 to 10 scale?
I give them a 5.
Why did you give them a five?
There were no active follow-ups and pushing our PO in many cases.
Why is this an issue?
She is busy, and the send-and-wait approach resulted that some questions were not answered or addressed with delay. The whole project was affected because of that.
What would you like them to do?
Your PM should be proactive and use different channels to contact. Phone, slack, book meetings from her calendly etc. We have signalled the need for that at the very beginning of our cooperation.
The customer has described your bottleneck and recommended a solution to make them happy. For you, it is a topic to work on within your organisation and once fixed for marketing to communicate how effective your communication between client and you are. Once you show improvement, the client you interviewed might give you a testimonial on that… You cannot have such results with an automated web survey.
Sabri Suby's Guide to Intimately Knowing Your Customer
Sabri Suby founder of a rocking growth agency from Melbourne in Australia, advises you to Know your customer intimately.
Although he focuses on online market research, mainly with social listening, and review mining, the same tactic, tools, techniques and questions can be applied to direct interviews with prospects and clients.
You go deep into your ideal client’s and its buyer personas to find their Hopes & Dream, Pains & Fears, Barriers & Uncertainties.
You can ask the following questions:
Where does your dream buyer hang out and congregate?
Where does your dream buyer get their information?
What are their biggest frustrations and challenges?
What are their hopes, dreams, and desires?
What are their biggest fears?
What is their preferred form of communication?
What phrases, exact language, and vernacular do they use?
What does a day in your dream buyer’s life look like?
What makes them happy?
Here is a spreadsheet to organise your findings that you can access from here.
You can listen to Sabri describing his approach here:
It’s your turn! Who should run the audience analysis?
Hey CEOs and CMOs, do you see how you can now give an extra boost to your company?
Audience research and customer development play a critical role in the success of a software development company. It is essential to understand your target market share, customers' needs, wants and preferences to build products they will love and use.
This process should be ongoing and should not be confined to a single moment in time.
Top management, such as the CEO or CMO, must stop living in their bubbles and start being involved in audience research and customer development to ensure the company stays on track.
If, for some reason, you are still not convinced that it is top management's bloody role, read the story of Axel Turnbull, CEO of Groove, who met 500 clients within four weeks (read the story HERE) to improve his service. That is gold 💰.
A Final Toast: To the Joys of Target Audience Mastery
Knowing your audience is not only a way to find what to communicate and how to engage with your audience. It is a way to create content and provide magical vitamins to your business.
So it might seem easy … but in practice, it requires time and resources, especially to set up the process and to start…
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