When you run a business, you always serve a certain segment of the population. However, frustratingly often, when I ask entrepreneurs who their target audience is, I hear the answer: “That’s it. Anyone who is interested in my products or services. ” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
For a business to work as it should, you need to narrow these “everyone” to a small group of people who not only want, but also have the financial ability to purchase your product.
As a businessman, you must understand that your target audience is the source from which your business draws strength. You cannot succeed if you do not understand this.
Knowing your target audience means not just focusing on gender / occupation and so on, it is something much more. You must thoroughly study the portrait of your Buyer. This is important because your entire business is ultimately focused on it.
Explore all aspects of your target audience’s life: who are these people? How do you spend your day? What are their goals, fears and beliefs? What are their stereotypes and how do they surprise you?
The level and depth of understanding of your target audience will determine the effectiveness of your marketing strategy and all its components – positioning, channels and methods of promotion, structure of the sales funnel and unique selling proposition.
However, learning everything you need to know isn’t easy. Therefore, let’s figure out how to do it correctly and consistently. Let’s start by defining the target audience.
What is the target audience?
A target audience is a group that has significant potential to respond positively to a brand’s message.
This is a specific group of people to which your ad is directed, the product itself, the website and media resources with your content.
These are people relevant to your marketing assets. A marketing asset can be your landing page, a Facebook topic post, or your product page. It could also be an email you wrote for your audience, or direct mail.
Target audience analysis is an integral part of any marketing strategy. The only way to figure out how to build it right (what to talk to people about) is to find out who you are talking to and what they want to hear.
Types of target audience
There are two types of target audience:
The main target audience is the part of your audience that acts as the end user and initiator of the purchase of your product or service and to which the main part of your marketing communication should be directed.
An indirect target audience is a part of the audience that can directly make a purchase decision and make a purchase, but not be the end user of a product or service. Despite the fact that this audience has a low level of priority in terms of your marketing communication, you must take into account their interests, since it is this part of the audience that makes the key buying decision.
Let’s look at two simple examples to better understand these concepts.
B2C example: a radio-controlled toy car. The main audience is children who want to play with such a toy and initiate a question about buying this product when they see an advertisement or the product itself on a store shelf. But the decision on the purchase will be made by the parents. And for them there is also a list of important points, such as quality, price, safety, etc. As a result, it is important for a selling company to satisfy the needs of two types of audience at once.
B2B example: A / B testing software . The main audience is people working in the marketing department of an online store. Indirect audiences are project owners and managers. Marketers can initiate a purchase of such software, as they think they need it to get the job done more efficiently. In turn, the project managers will decide whether they are willing to pay for it and whether they really need this program.
Why is it important to define your target audience?
Imagine you come to a car dealership. When communicating with the seller, you suddenly realize that he is not at all interested in your needs and specific wishes. For an hour he has been showing you sports cars and sedans, ranting about fine leather seats and gorgeous interior trim.
And in the second hour of “an inspirational ode to everything and nothing” you already say in plain text that you are a father of many children and you need a minivan to deliver the offspring from point A to point B. That’s it!
No matter how beautiful and fast a sports car is, it just doesn’t suit you. Because it doesn’t solve your problem.
Here’s a good example of why knowing your target audience is so important. Trying to sell a sports car to a father with many children will not bring you sales.
Now let’s take a look at your landing page. When a consumer visits one of your landing pages, you rightly want to establish instant contact. Images, headings, content and all page attributes should appeal to the customer and match their needs. If the contact did not happen, the person will immediately close the page.
Your target audience will actually be the determining factor in all your decisions – business, marketing, and those that relate directly to your product.
The language you use in your messages, the sales channels you choose, the information you share, all product enhancements will directly depend on the group of people you are targeting.
In business, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that can ensure success in building a marketing strategy. Because all companies are different – with their own unique target audience, product and features.
Therefore, you should not think that you can thoughtlessly copy someone’s solutions and apply them in your business. Otherwise, you will inevitably face financial losses.
Because every business has its own target audience. And even competitors similar to you can be very different from you in the eyes of your customers. Therefore, your target audience is unique. And you need to build your business on the basis of this unique feature.
By working with a specific audience, you get a kind of guide for your marketing, messaging and building customer relationships. Once you decide who to target specifically, everything else will automatically fall into place.
Defining your target audience can help you avoid wasting resources such as time, money, and labor that are so valuable to entrepreneurs.
3 steps to identifying your target audience
Unfortunately, the process of defining your target audience is not always simple and straightforward. This process requires some resources, a willingness to research and knowledge of a certain specificity. And, of course, creativity.
Even when reaching out to your entire audience or customer base, you are, in fact, always talking to one person.
Defining the target audience in three steps:
Step 1: start with what you know
Start simple – demographic characteristics. This is the basic data that will help you start building a portrait of your target audience.
The following data is important:
- place of residence;
- income level;
- marital status;
- religious views;
- political preferences;
- ethnicity and race.
Now let’s move on to psychography. This paragraph gives you more creative options and, at the same time, allows you to stick to the legend of the target audience.
Psychography is more accurate personality characteristics of a person, which include:
- personality type;
- attitude to specific issues;
- life values;
- interests and hobbies;
- behavioral model;
- desires and goals;
- fears and concerns.
Find out how your product or service will fit the lifestyle of your target audience. How and when will people use your product? Which of its functions are they most interested in? What media do your customers use to find out the information they are interested in about your product? Do they read newspapers, what are they looking for on the Internet, what events do they attend?
Take into account the interests, hobbies and hobbies of your target audience, its goals, aspirations, beliefs, prejudices, political views and life stereotypes.
It is this data that will help you create ad and marketing campaigns that cannot be ignored.
Now move on to what your potential customers DO NOT like. What makes them angry, fearful, and what challenges do they face on a daily basis? Is your ideal customer happy with their job? What social or political issues affect his life and success?
By asking yourself these important, fundamental questions, you will get closer to the “heart” of your target audience – and, ultimately, understand how you can meet their needs or solve problems.
This will help you create a customer portrait that will personify your target audience and help you promote your product.
You can probably ask a fair question: “What if I’m just starting my business and I don’t have clients yet? How can I know so much about my client? ”
At the very beginning of your journey, you can build a fictional image of the ideal client. Fictional in the sense that you average the characteristics and create a portrait of the client based on your hypotheses. But this is only at the initial stage, until you acquire the first clients and create a real image based on the characteristics of real people.
Your ultimate goal should be to target your ideal customer, which matches the real representatives of your target audience.
Step 2: look around
After working with your team on the image of your target audience, look around – at your customers, competitors, and impartially evaluate your product or service.
If your business has already begun to bear its first fruits, pay attention to your customers. Why are they buying from you, and who exactly brings you the most profit? What do you see in common between them?
Common traits among your existing buyers will help you target a whole layer of potential buyers like them.
In order to better understand the characteristics of your customer base, you need to do some initial research. It helps you get objective data directly from people interested in your product.
Conduct a survey among your customers, find out their opinion about your product and brand. But keep in mind that simply “like” or “dislike” will not help you understand the characteristics of your target audience.
Strive to find out “why”. Why did the client choose you and why does he use your product so often or so rarely? Why and how does your product fit into the customer’s lifestyle and help solve the problem?
If you don’t have a customer base yet, put that thought aside until you have one. And be sure to conduct a survey as soon as you acquire your first customers.
The smart entrepreneur always keeps his finger on the pulse of his competitors. If you haven’t done a competitive analysis yet, be sure to do so.
Here is a list of questions aimed at studying your competitors, which also helps to complement the image of your target audience:
- What do their customers buy from them and how do they sell it?
- How do they position themselves in the market?
- What is their pricing strategy? What are their customers willing to pay for?
- What do their customers say about them on forums and social networks?
- What do the reviews and reviews say about them?
- What channels of customer acquisition are they investing in?
- Who are their messages aimed at?
To continue researching competitors, monitor their activity on the Internet, on thematic forums and in social networks. See where your competitor is advertising and what audience these promotions are targeting. Finally, make a purchase from your competitor and see how they interact with their customers.
Use this information to understand who your competitors are targeting. Depending on their success and the needs of their clients, you can expand your target audience at the expense of their own.
Or, instead, use the findings to play with contrast (your brand versus theirs). You may also be able to find a targeting niche that your competitors haven’t targeted yet.
Product or Service
To make the image of your target audience more specific, let’s delve into the essence of your product or service.
Take a piece of paper and write down everything that your brand (product, service) offers. Describe each item in detail, listing all the benefits.
Now take an objective look at what you are offering and how it looks in the eyes of your target audience. How can this data help you to specify the image of your target audience? For whom of your clients are these profits most important? Whose life can be drastically changed by your product or service?
Specificity = Success
Entrepreneurs often worry about how their narrow targeting will impact their audience reach. They worry that they will target too small a market and this will negatively affect their income.
In fact, identifying the specifics of your target audience will help you make the right decisions based on the needs of your customers. And the more specific the audience is, the easier it is to understand its preferences. This will allow you to achieve positive results in the long term.
To summarize, specifics = success.
Start small – “turnover” a small target audience. Once you learn to meet the needs of a small segment of the market, you can move beyond your niche and start expanding your business horizons.
All the time spent on this research will allow you to understand what your target audience really looks like and who these people are to whom your marketing message is directed. You will learn much-needed information about people’s attitudes towards certain issues, understand their beliefs, values and pain points.
Step 3: Segment the target audience
Audience segmentation is the process of dividing people into homogeneous subgroups. It is based on specific criteria such as demographics, psychography, behaviors and media preferences.
Audience segmentation is used in marketing to enable businesses to design and tailor their products and services to meet the needs of target groups.
The audience is segmented into subgroups based on the assumption that their interests, needs and behaviors are similar. These assumptions enable marketers to design relevant messages that influence people in the right way and lead them to the solution you want.
Segmenting is, in fact, the process of dividing your target audience into meaningful and manageable groups (segments) so that you can tailor your offer and messages to the specific preferences of each of them.
We often talk about “your audience”, but in reality you have several audiences with very different expectations. They come for different reasons and behave differently. You need to be able to identify and understand the fundamental differences between them before you can correctly respond to them.
Segmentation allows you to do this in the most consistent and organic way.
You can segment your audience based on 4 criteria:
- Geographical. Break down your audience by region, country or city.
- Demographic. Separation according to age, marital status, gender, etc.
- Socio-economic. Education, income level, social status.
- Psychographic. Lifestyle, attitudes, tastes, preferences, goals and fears.
An Audience Segmentation Approach Based on Five Key Questions: Mark Sherrington’s 5W
Summarize your research and create a client portrait
The final stage of researching your target audience should be the creation of a portrait of the client or, as it is also called, a portrait of the target audience (portrait of the target audience).
The portrait is created based on the core of the target audience.
The core of the target audience is people who have a high need for the product or service that you are promoting and are ready to make purchases more than others. According to the Pareto principle, these are the same 20% of people who bring you 80% of your income.
The client portrait helps in absolutely all aspects of the business – in marketing, sales and support. They represent the ideal customer you are trying to attract or serve in the best possible way.
As we said, client portrait is sometimes fictional, generalized images of your ideal clients. But this is permissible only if you are just starting out and do not yet know your target audience well enough.
If you already have clients, the portrait should no longer be fictional, but rather accurately describe the demographic and psychographic characteristics of the target audience (age, location, habits, fears, pains, aspirations and goals).
Once you have enough data and a good understanding of your target audience, make sure your client profile matches the real characteristics of the real people you want to reach.
A deep understanding of your ideal customer is critical to content creation , product development, sales tracking, and everything related to customer acquisition and retention.
Treat the client portrait with responsibility.
A client portrait will help you better understand your clients (including potential ones). This makes it easier to tailor content, messages, product and service development. It will be easier for you to match your product to your specific needs based on the behaviors and concerns of different groups.
Try to keep your client portrait up to date. Add and work on it regularly. Approximately every 6-12 months, you will need to re-do the research and update the collective image of your client accordingly. This will provide an effective and efficient marketing strategy.
As the market is constantly changing and evolving, the image of your ideal customer can change. Consider this to always be one step ahead of your competitors.
Having an understanding of what the target audience is and how to correctly identify the target audience, and then study and segment it, you will be able to create high-quality marketing and advertising campaigns more effectively, and at the same time develop your business.
Knowing your target audience is more important than you think. Make no mistake in assuming everyone is your potential customer. Instead, narrow it down to real people who not only want your product or service, but also have the means and motivation to make a purchase.
Explore and get to know your customers – communicate with them through your blog and social media. Test your content with guest posts. Change your approach and see how the methodology works best for your business.
The more information you collect about your target audience, the better service you can provide to them.
And don’t forget to update your ideal customer information regularly. People’s preferences change over time. And the portrait of the ideal client can also change.