A Guide to Uncovering Your ESSENTIAL Target Audience

Posted by Marketing Essentials on July 21, 2021 at 10:45 AM     ContentStrategyBranding
A Guide to Uncovering Your ESSENTIAL Target Audience

There are over 7 billion people in the world. Do you think every one of them is your target customer? 

Spoiler alert: they aren’t. 

As a business owner, you want to sell to as many people as possible, right? But the truth is that trying to sell to people who will never buy your product or service is a waste of time.  

Yet many brands continue to try and appeal to everyone with bland, scatter-shot messaging and tactics. They may as well be burning hundred-dollar bills. 

This is why it’s so important to clearly define your target or ideal audience, determine your target market -- and then create messaging and branding that appeals to them

In this guide, we will give you the ESSENTIAL information you need to know about what a target audience is, why it’s important and how to find yours.   

What is a Target Audience?

A target audience is another way of saying: the people who will find the most value in your product or service. 

Depending on what you offer, this audience could be as small as a few dozen or a few hundred people - or millions. For instance, if you sell baby food, your primary audience will be new parents. While grandparents, friends and relatives of new parents may also buy baby food for new parents, they make up a small portion of purchases. 

As a general rule, about 80% of business comes from just 20% of one’s customers. It is in the best interests of your business, then, to focus 80% or more of your sales and marketing efforts on that 20%. Uncovering your target audience is your first step to marketing to that 20%. 

What’s the Benefit of Determining Your Target Audience?

Figuring out who that 20% of your customer base is will help your business advertise more cost-effectively to achieve greater ROI with your marketing efforts. A billboard might seem like a great way to advertise your product, but if the billboard is located in a neighborhood where your target audience doesn’t live, you have just flushed a fistful of cash down the drain (and clogged up some toilets in the process). 

Laser-focused marketing and sales efforts reduce the amount of churn and frustration you may experience when going after customers who are simply never going to buy from you. Your message should communicate the value of your product or service to this specific audience, striking an emotional connection that makes your potential customer think, “Wow, this company really understands me and my challenges.”   

What Does Your Target Audience Look Like? 

We start defining a target audience based on characteristics or demographics. These may include: 

  • Location
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Education Level
  • Occupation 
  • Annual Income
  • Marital Status
  • Ethnicity
  • Renter/Homeowner
  • Family Life Cycle (Minor Children/No Children/Adult Children)

The goal is to define your target audience as narrowly as possible. This ensures that you are always crafting the right message for the people who make up the greatest proportion of your sales. 

While the demographics listed here are just an example (there are literally hundreds of different demographics you could use to define your audience), take a moment to think about how your typical customer would answer the questions above. If you find you cannot answer these questions, consider sending out a survey to your most dedicated customers to capture this information. 

What Does Your Target Audience Need?   

The biggest trap many businesses fall into is to think (and talk!) about themselves first and the needs of their customers second. Before you begin promoting your product or service, consider the unique value that your product or service actually provides to your target audience.

What challenges does your target audience face each day? How does your product or service solve that challenge or make it easier? 

For instance, let’s say you are selling a financial software program specifically made to help small business owners balance their books. Because it is designed for businesses with 1-50 employees, medium and large companies may find it cumbersome to use. In this example, your target audience is small business owners with 1-50 employees. Depending on the types of functionality your software has, it may offer more value to businesses with retail locations. Knowing this will further refine your target audience. 

Companies that offer general consumer goods may or may not be able to create a narrow target audience. For instance, if you sell store-brand milk, the differentiator of that product is generally price. But if you sell small-batch, organic milk from pasture-raised cows that costs $2 more than regular milk, you are likely targeting a more affluent customer and will want to do market research to discover more about their pain points and how they make purchasing decisions.  

How to Uncover Your Own Target Audience 

The best way to find out who your target audience is - is to ask them! All data that your customers provide is valuable, and many are happy to share more about themselves with companies whose products they love. Enticing responses with coupons or free gift cards can also give you more data. 

Here are some ways to start learning more about your target audience. Ensure that as you begin your research, you are documenting everything you have learned about your target audience so you can share this information with your sales and marketing teams. 

  • Connect with Customers via Interview and Social Media

Who is already buying and using your products or services? Post surveys on your social media channels or send surveys to your email list asking customers about their demographic information and why they chose to buy your product or service. 

  • Keep Tabs on Web Traffic and Analytics

How are your customers interacting with your website and its content? Take a look at your top-performing pages and posts to see what your website visitors are most interested in. You can also install a heatmap program like HotJar, which will track what your visitors are clicking most on. Do they even use that fancy uber menu? Are they clicking on the header but finding it doesn’t link to anything? How many users actually click on anything more than halfway down the page?    

  • Analyze Competitors

We can all learn a lot by evaluating our competitors. Who are your competitors selling to, and what types of messaging are they using? Where are they placing ads and marketing messages? Do their efforts seem successful?  Are there any market segments that they aren’t targeting? 

Track your competitors’ social media channels and evaluate what types of comments they’re getting from customers. Can you identify customer pain points, areas where your competitor is letting customers down? If yes, is there a way you can position your product or service to fill that need? 

  • Define Who Your Audience Isn’t

Who is your least ideal customer? The antithesis of the ideal? Knowing the sorts of people or companies you don’t want to do business with can be just as important as determining the ones you want to do business with. The term for this type of non-customer is “negative audience.” 

These are the people you want to exclude from your marketing efforts. Putting ads in front of them or crafting messages for them is both a waste of their time and yours.  

  • Continuously Monitor 

The only constant in life is change - and that goes for your target audience, too. Your target audience’s behaviors and needs may change over time, which is why it’s key to continuously monitor all of the areas above. This ensures that you are constantly repositioning or adjusting your messaging and advertising to get the right message to your audience in the right place at the right time.       

Ready? Aim…. Market! 

Now that you have defined your target audience, you’re ready to craft a compelling marketing message and create a strategic marketing campaign to reach them. 

Remember to lead with the value that you provide to your customers. When you help your customers, they will reward you with loyalty, continued sales and referrals.  

Strategic Marketing, Remarkable Results

At Marketing Essentials, we’ve worked with hundreds of regional, national and global brands just like yours to achieve remarkable results. If you’re not seeing the results you want from your current marketing efforts, consider a strategic marketing audit.