Finding your Target Audience

Nearly anything you read regarding marketing and sales will, at some point, include the phrase “your target audience”.  As business owners, we instinctively (though perhaps reluctantly) know that not every person is going to need or want our product or services.

While it would be great if that were the case, most of us are aware that our niche attracts a specific crowd.  But who is that crowd?  While it’s obvious that certain types of marketing engage certain audiences, how do we figure out our own audience?

Unfortunately, there’s no quick and easy method that allows you to plug in some details and get the answer you need.  At the same time, there are some simple guidelines to help you stay aware of your key audience at all times.

Why Do I Need to Know My Target Audience?

For many new entrepreneurs, knowing the target audience might seem a vague luxury, but not a necessity.  After all, it’s a free market, and anyone who wants your products or services is welcome to buy them, right?

You might think that your customers and your target audience are one and the same, but this is actually false.  Just as you suspected, it is possible for anyone to purchase anything from the internet.  However, as any seasoned marketer will tell you, one purchase does not an audience make.

Your target audience is going to be the group of individuals who purchase from you frequently.  They will open your emails.  They will click your links.  And they will surely read the blog, and they will share your social media posts.

The majority of your conversions will come from your target audience; therefore, knowing who they are and what they like is essential for the success of your business.  Regardless of your product or service, your marketing strategy, or any of the other choices you make for your business, there’s one very important piece of advice every entrepreneur should know:  

The right content, presented to the right audience, in the right method, on the right platform, creates conversions.

Consider the possible outcomes of knowing all the rights.  What’s the point of spending all of your time and advertising budget on Facebook ads, if your target audience actually prefers Instagram?

Why would you hire a social media manager if your target audience is impatiently waiting for your newsletter?  The key to success is giving people what they want, when they want it, and how they want it, and all of that comes with knowing your target audience.

Understanding Your Business

The first step to cornering your target audience is understanding your brand, and your brand personality.  The term “Brand Archetype” was first coined by Millward Brown.  While the concept is very expansive, you should know your brand’s personality before you consider who you’re going to try marketing to.

Are your products simple and practical, or made to expand horizons and challenge existing knowledge?  Do you use a lot of humor or lighthearted language and imagery?  Does your product have a seductive edginess to it, or are your services very dry and informative?

All of these details help hone your brand identity, which in turn helps you identify who you want to market to.

Finding the “Why”

Next, consider the “Why” of your brand.  In Simon Sinek’s book, “Start with Why”, he encourages business owners to not consider what they sell, but why they sell it.  Understanding the “Why” is truly important when trying to figure out who makes up the majority of your customer base.

Consider the following questions:

  • Why does my product or service exist?
  • Why would someone choose my product or service?

Answering these questions helps you to further identify the situation in which your business is the ultimate choice for a customer.  This type of information will help paint a picture of the ideal target, and when aided by even further detail, help you get the elusive “bullseye” of marketing.

Finding the “Whos”

Once you have established who you are as a business, it is time to identify your customers.  In order to do so, you’ll need to consider demographics and psychographics.

Demographics include things like age, location, gender, income level, highest level of education, occupation, ethnicity, marital status, number of children, number or type of pets, and so on, depending on your business.

You can generally get some basic demographic information by looking at the profiles of those who follow your business on social media.  Other details will be obvious, such as determining a customer’s location from their shipping address.  You can also create survey or questionnaire-style forms on your website, perhaps offering an incentive like a free download or discount for some basic demographic information.  

Once you have obtained these details, test them.  Many email services, like Sendinblue, will allow you to segment your newsletters and emails into demographic selections.  This allows you to do some A/B testing to determine who responds to which type of communication.  There are no hard and fast rules as to which demographic will prefer which type of marketing, unfortunately.  That’s where psychographics come into play.

Psychographics focus on the intellectual and emotional profile of your customers.  Consider two very different types of entertainment, such as sitcoms and the opera.

The overall personality, attitude, values, lifestyle, and full range of interests between those who end the day by watching sitcoms on network television, versus those who will buy season tickets to the opera are similar in many ways, but there are likely many places in which they differ greatly.

The psychographics of your customers will differentiate between your target market and a customer who is making a single purchase.

How these elements work for your Brand?

These two components work together in a way that may seem obvious when you think of other brands, but a bit more difficult when considering your own brand.  There’s even a bit of predictability between demographics and psychographics.  For example, would a young single father of three living in the rural Midwest be more or less likely to have season tickets to the opera than a recently retired unmarried neurosurgeon living in New York City?

Determining psychographics will take more sleuth work on your part, however.  In order to learn the psychographics of your customers, you might have to conduct a lot of A/B testing.  You might have to experiment with content.

You will need to think less like your business, and more like your customer.  At the same time, you don’t want to wander too far from your brand’s identity.  If the primary reason your product or service exists is to provide a simple way to navigate a difficult project, throwing a bikini-clad model on a sports car won’t likely have any impact on your customers but to confuse them.

For some lucky business owners, the target audience is obvious.  Those who make children’s clothing, for example, have a pretty good idea of the demographics of their niche. For others, however, the target audience is not so evident.

You’ll need to establish an idea of your business’s personality, then compare that to available demographics. You’ll need to try some different tactics, and learn to think like your customers.  As you do so, you’ll start to uncover who falls into your target audience, and then begin to market to them more effectively by being in the right place with the right content at the right time. 

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