Defining Your Target Audience
Anytime I meet with a client for the first time and we’re getting ready plan a marketing strategy I’ll ask the question, “Who is your target audience?” 95% of the time the person answers, “Everybody.” The other 4% will answer “I don’t know.” The last 1% will actually know who they want to reach.
So, What is a target audience? Who is a target audience? Where is my target audience? How do I find my target audience? To answer these questions is to ask the better question which is, “Who do you really want to reach?
Helping clients define their target audience is pretty uncomplicated yet involves some work, thought, and … yes at times, some money.
First, what is a target audience? It is a specific group of people that a product or serviced is aimed at or an effected message is directed toward. In my opinion your marketing message of communication is most important statement. But to have an effective marketing message you must know your target audience.
When businesses try to define their target audience I’ll hear, “I want to target the small business owners, or homeowners, stay-at-home moms, or everyone.” These targets are too general and in reality you will not be able to target everyone. Defining your target audience does not mean that you are excluding people that don’t necessarily fit into your criteria of your target audience. But it is more cost effective to be specific in who you really want to reach then you never leave your target audience or you never leave your message. Constantly changing your message can and will confuse people. For example, an auto repair shop wants to reach homeowners between the ages of 30–55, with kids, and with incomes of $65,000+ in West San Fernando Valley, CA. To define your target market even further you’re going to go after the main financial decision maker, the woman! Now, we’re talking because an effective marketing message now can be designed and communicated clearly to that target audience. Of course there is more involved but with a clearly defined target audience, it is much easier to determine where and how you’re going to market your business.
I would like to share with you some tools to help define your target audience:
1. Look at who are your current customers? Are they men or women? What are their ages? What is their income? You’ll be going off perception on some of the questions. Why do they buy from you? Look for common characteristics and interests. People like them are out there and can benefit from your services.
2 . What demographics do you want to reach? Not only is need important to your service or product but who is likely to buy from you? Demographics to think about:
- Location or Market
- Income level
- Education level – (Education is important because it does and can determine how a message will be communicated.)
- Marital or family status
- Ethnic background
3. What is your competition doing? Who are they targeting? How are they reaching their audience? Be different. Don’t be like your competition saying the same message. Find your niche or you own uniqueness.
4. It would not be a bad idea to define your service or product. Write out a list of each feature or trait of your business or service. Then ask the question of how these features would benefit the customer I would like to reach. For example if you have a restaurant that serves lactose free food. Benefit feature is offering a place where people can order all food that is lactose free, in a restaurant! How cool is that? (I actually have a client like that called the Mooless Café). Once you make a list of your benefits, then list people who would have a need your benefit fulfills. For the Mooless Café it would be people who can dine out in restaurant and order food that won’t make them feel inky. While still a little too general at least you have a starting point.
5. Look at the Psychographics of your target audience. This is about getting into the lifestyle of your audience. Your product or service should be able to relate or connect emotionally with your audience. Here are some characteristics to consider:
This also where you can find out where your target audience is at, where they show up. For example what type of media are they most prone to turn to, the newspaper, TV and what programs, social platforms and then like.
6. It is important to evaluate your marketing decision. Ink. Magazine poses some good questions to consider:
- Are there enough people that fit my criteria?
- Will my target really benefit from my product/service? Will they see a need for it?
- Do I understand what drives my target to make decisions?
- Can they afford my product/service?
- Can I reach them with my message? Are they easily accessible?
Great questions and remember try not to … rather don’t break down your target audience to far. You can have more than one niche market. Each niche market will have, for the most part, a different message. But if your services are all under one business then all your communication, even if it communicated differently for each niche or function must not take away from your main mission or purpose.
Here are some helpful resources you can search out to help find your target audience.
To understand, know, and stay current with your local market most City websites will have updated demographics and summaries that are very informative.
Pew Internet is a great resource to find out how certain demographics use online information.
Scarborough issues some great information for free.
Arbitron also issues some good free research.
Once you know who are reaching, known as your target audience, then it becomes much easier to know what media to use to reach them. Instead of doing a mailer to everyone in town you can save money and get a better return on your investment by doing a little research and deliver to those who only fit your criteria.
I am a marketer and that is what I do, help clients find and reach their target audience.