How To Define Your Target Audience
Nearly every business needs print or digital marketing, but to avoid wasting ad dollars on the wrong potential customers, you’ll need to know exactly who to target. Here are some ways to define who your target audience is and how to market to them.
Start with common metrics
There are hundreds of characteristics you can use to identify who you want to sell to, but here are some of the basic ones that can be easy to recognize based on your industry or product.
Having about 5 to 10 (or more) ways to describe your target audience will give you a good idea of where to place advertisements and what they should say.
Don’t include everyone
A common mistake business owners make is to try and sell to everyone on the planet, but this wastes advertising money on demographics that will never want or need to buy your product.
Not even McDonald’s has an all-encompassing target audience, even though they claim to have “a friendly, fun environment for everyone, and we mean everyone.” Their current focus is on lower and middle-class customers who want a quick and inexpensive meal that doesn’t need to be healthy. It wouldn't make sense for McDonald's to target health-conscious consumers who make over $150K per year.
Panera Bread could target every human being and see who comes in, but instead they target middle and upper-class college graduates who want a more well-prepared meal, and often have extra time to sit down to eat it.
This way, Panera doesn’t lose money by buying ad space on Comedy Central or at a bus stop in a lower-income area where most of the viewers will never think about stepping through their door.
Quick tip: Buyers aren’t always users
Not all buyers are the ones who will be using the end product, so think about who you should really send the message to.
Young children don’t have credit cards, but they ask their parents to buy a toy after seeing it on a commercial. This is common with gifts, too—your relative or friend may see a product and request it for their birthday.
Who are your current customers?
Take a look at the people who buy and use your product. More often than not, these types of people are already your target audience.
Now try to describe them in more detail. How much do they spend per visit? When do they shop? Where do they go where you can influence them (shopping malls, social media, etc.)? Why do they use your product?
Also think about if you are happy with your current customer base. Consider the fact that they may change their behaviors as they age and you may be out of customers at some point.
90s teens loved their slap bracelets, but grew out of the trend and had no one to fill the role. On the other hand, Nintendo was successful in the 80s and 90s with young male gamers, but instead of launching the Wii console to a market crowded by Xbox and PlayStation, Nintendo targeted men and women over 25 (which resulted in 100 million units sold).
Who do your competitors serve?
Take a look at your competition. They likely have the same type of target audience, but maybe that’s where you want to differentiate.
Soft drinks are all very similar, but the majority of Barq’s Root Beer’s customers are 55 to 64-year-old males without college degrees, while Mountain Dew has a target audience of young teenage boys who often play video games.
This means Barq’s can make references from the 1970s in their advertisements while Mountain Dew can use trendy slang, and both can see good sales numbers.
What problem does your product solve?
This is a great way to figure out who your target audience is. Is your product cheap and easy? You probably have a lower-income audience who are busy with work or family, meaning you should advertise with quick, straightforward messaging.
Does your product or service improve customers’ physical features? You may have a target market that cares about their image and has the money to spend on looking better, which also means they may be very social or single and looking for a partner.
You can then advertise to this audience in a fashion magazine, at a gym, or on a website frequented by single women who make over $60,000 per year.
Next steps: Nailing down your branding and voice
Once you have the demographics of your target audience in your toolbox, you can now build a solid brand look, feel and sound to fit your company and your products, which can do wonders to your sales figures.
Need help defining your target audience? Let us know. We’ll give you pointers or take the reins completely.
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