How to Define Your Target Audience

During a recent marketing review with a client, their results showed they weren’t reaching female audiences. We asked if this was by design and learned it wasn’t. The client definitely didn’t want to alienate part of their customer base and began adjusting their marketing efforts.

Successful marketing is no longer about how many people know about your products or services. Instead, it is about reaching the right people with relevant and timely messages in ways that resonate directly with them and inspire action. But to do this means you need to know who the “right people” are and what kind of messages will resonate specifically with them.

An organization’s target audience (those “right people”) is comprised of specific people who, based on their needs and interests, will take action to buy, use, and promote your products and services. Defining your target audience can help you make more informed marketing decisions and develop a game plan to pursue, test and evaluate results.

Targeting everyone can make marketing unnecessarily difficult and forgettable. It’s very helpful to have a place to aim. Here are a few brainstorming questions to help you define and refine your target audience (and keep in mind, you may have more than one):

What does your client look, sound and act like? Take a moment to think about the different types of people who typically become your customers. What are their commonalities? What makes them different from people who don’t become customers? How can you clone your best and/or favorite client? Where did they come from? Where are they going? And what marketing media are they paying attention to?

What are key attributes to help narrow your focus? The attributes below may seem basic and obvious, yet when I’ve asked people within the same company – and department – to share their target audience aloud, often each person’s description is different. Work to define your audience specifically by:

  • Geography: Are your customers local, regional, national, international? Where exactly are they?
  • Industry: Are you marketing and selling into a specific industry or multiple ones? Or, do you market directly to an individual consumer?
  • Revenue: What is the typical annual revenue range and number of employees of your target businesses? If your organization is business-to-consumer (B2C), what’s your customer’s typical annual household income level?
  • Age: What’s the age range of your ideal customer?
  • Habits: What are your customers’ behaviors and decisions they typically make? What does this person enjoy, and where do they invest their time and money? What is valuable to them?
  • Role: What is their role and position of influence in the company? If you’re in B2C, what is your customer’s role in their family?

Developing a clear vision and governing that vision will set you up for long-term success. Folks outside of your target market may and will probably buy from you; however, the more specific you can be, the more likely you’ll make your mark and reach the audiences who will truly become your fans.

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