What is the target audience and why does it matter?
Did you know the essence of strong content marketing requires being super clear on who your ideal audience is? Every business has a unique target audience, a specific group of people you want to reach with your marketing and advertising. These are the people who are most likely to buy your products or services. If a message doesn’t connect with the intended target audience, they are not likely to pay attention. This is why it is so important to determine who your target audience is.
How do I determine my target audience?
There are many aspects that go into finding the right audience, a few examples would be age, income, education, gender and/ or geographic location. It’s also important to know that your target market can’t be everyone. In fact, we have a saying in marketing that goes: “If you market to everyone, you market to no one.” If you’re struggling to define your target audience, you’re not alone. Let’s get started with a few easy steps…
- Get to know your people.
This sounds like an obvious step, but it is one of the most important. Analyze your current customer base and engage with your potential customers. Conduct as much research as possible, and as your business grows you should continue to evaluate and possibly change your target market.
- What are the features of your business, products or services?
- What are the benefits of these features?
- How do the benefits help the user?
- How does your target market shop?
- What is the typical age and gender of your target audience? Do they usually have children? What is their average income and education?
- What are their common interests? These can include attitudes, values and lifestyle.
- Is your target audience comfortable with online? What web and offline marketing methods engage them?
The people who find your product or service appealing often share similar characteristics, which will help you personalize your marketing message. You can craft a customer profile to reveal those shared traits. This includes personality and lifestyle information about how they behave, and basic information to help you identify your audience.
Demographic criteria will get you started:
- Income level
- Education level
- Marital or family status
- Ethnic background
Psychographic criteria goes a little deeper, painting a more complete picture of your audience:
- Lifestyle preferences
Every industry, business and product is different, so these lists are meant as a starting point. Make adjustments and include interesting layers to your profiles — the better you know your customer, the better you can sell to them.
2. Be Specific.
Narrowly defining your target customer is more of an art than a science. Starting out, you should try to be as specific as possible. Having clarity of your audience positions you to create amazing content that captures their attention, intimately speaks to their needs, and moves them to action. New entrepreneurs often worry about being too specific as they research their audience, concerned that it will limit their reach. In reality, researching your specific target audience sets you up for long-term success by helping you make decisions that are influenced by your customer.
3. Get to know who your audience truly is.
Creating influencing content means highlighting your audience’s pains and problems, then sharing how your products/services/business is their go-to solution.
When you address their pains and challenges in your content, you capture attention. They’re listening because they identify with your message. Understanding their age and income is the first step, but researching the core customer problem is what will help set your business apart from the competition.
4. Scope out your competition.
An important factor in researching your target audience is to see what your competitors are up to. Depending on how well or how poorly they are doing, you may or may not want to go after a similar target audience.
Some examples of how to analyze your competition include:
- Read reviews:
If your competitors are doing poorly, for example if you saw a lot of negative reviews left on their store, this could indicate an opportunity. You might be able to capitalize on their unhappy customers. If you are seeing a lot of positive reviews, this allows you to learn what sort of people who buy this product expect a company to do well. By researching your competition you are able to identify their strengths and weaknesses and use them to improve upon your business.
- Utilize social media:
Where is most of your competitors social interaction happening? Determine this, then research into their fans profiles. Most people advertise anything you would want to know about them on their social media accounts. Information such as: demographic information, interests, jobs and job history, education information, hobbies and more. You can also see how their fans are interacting with brands and if their interaction is positive or negative.
5. Don’t be afraid to change your approach and ideas.
Finally, neither your business nor your target market will ever be set in stone. You might discover that the problem you thought you could best solve for your target market isn’t the one that your customer really wants solved right now. Or you might find that the solution you think will work best isn’t as effective as you anticipated. As you develop new products and services for your business, your target market will be the guide that keeps you focused.
Many of today’s great companies started out with different ideas about what type of product or service they should provide to their target market. The reason they became so profitable and influential, while other companies faded away, was their willingness to repeatedly change according to the needs of their customers. These companies were dedicated from the very beginning to provide the best solution to what their target audience struggled with.
Here’s a perfect example: Airbnb.
Everybody knows this company, and what they do: connect travelers with people who have space to rent. But they didn’t start out this way.
Airbedandbreakfast.com (that’s what it was called back in the day) used to be just a website where people could book a place to crash in San Francisco. Their “accommodation was 3 air mattresses for $80 a night each. And the “added value service” was that you’ll get breakfast, too (hence the name).
Then, the founders changed the central idea of the service to providing accommodation for conference attendees who didn’t want to stay in a hotel. And instead of renting out their own space, they got in touch with owners of other properties.
Soon, Airbnb became the company we all know, helping travelers score unique and affordable accommodations around the world. Airbnb’s founders weren’t afraid to take new directions, if that meant that their target market would be better served. And that’s why they are the world’s biggest accommodation provider right now… who don’t even own any properties!
This “audience first” approach is the best way to ensure that you’ll be working on something people genuinely want. We hope this guide has given you the know-how and the tools to find your future audience.
Remember: your target market isn’t something you have to settle for once and for all. It’s up to you to redefine and re-discover your audience. They don’t have to conform 100% to everything you’ve decided for yourself. And at the end of the day, what matters is aligning your strengths with the needs of your audience. It’s up to you to take action, and build the business you’ve always wanted!
If you need more info or help on determining your target market, please do not hesitate to send me a message or give me a call. I enjoy helping business owners succeed, it’s what I do! You can also fill out the form below and I will be in touch with you shortly.