Ask most business owners who their audience is, and they’ll say “everyone.” But that’s a mistake. Unless you’re selling water or air, your target audience is not everyone. Your target audience is far more narrow.
First, let’s define what target audience is. A target audience is the segment of the population that you most want to market your products and services to. For example, if you sell car covers, your target audience would be people who own cars, like classic car owners. Or people who are car hobbyists or collectors.
Why do you want to define a target audience? To focus your business efforts. If you don’t understand who you’re trying to reach, how can you take steps to find those people? How can you craft your product and your messaging to appeal to that audience? And, how can you measure your marketing efforts? If you can’t do those things, you will not be successful.
Steps for Defining Your Target Audience
→ Examine your current customers
If you’re like most business owners, you’ve probably allowed your entrepreneurial spirit to let you charge out ahead of doing a target audience analysis. Don’t worry, your eagerness can be used to your advantage. Since you already have customers you can examine them to find common traits.
Are most of your customers women? Are they mostly business owners or mid-level managers? Are they people who own homes in cold climates, or are they college students? Are they likely to use software or to download mobile apps? Mine that customer database to learn about your customers.
→ Perform competitor research
Even if you haven’t started selling your services, you probably understand who your competition is. Let your competition help you: research them to locate trends in their marketing. Are they trying to appeal to people who own homes with fireplaces? Are they targeting families with children? What geographic range are they aiming for? What does their website, packaging, and marketing tell you about who their target audience is? If you answer these questions, you’ll understand your own audience. Be mindful that your strength may lie in offering similar services or products to a slightly different segment of the audience than your competitor.
→ Identify the features and benefits of your service or product
This exercise is one of the oldest in marketing: identify the specific features of your product (or service) and the corresponding benefits. Here’s an example:
Suppose you sell contract-free mobile phones. A feature is lower monthly fees, and a benefit would be more money to spend on a top-of-the-line phone. Another feature is flexibility, since you aren’t committed to a long-term contract, which results in the benefit of not adding debt to your credit history.
Once you identify features and benefits, ask yourself “Who would benefit most from this?” In our example above, lower income customers would benefit, and customers who have poor credit scores.
→ Define where your products or services are used
If you sell business software, do you know where your product is most used? Is it by the financial sector, or more specifically by accountants? Getting even more specific, is your product most desired by accounting firms with fewer than 25 employees? You get the idea: narrow your focus to locate the best target audience. Some marketers refer to it by another term: ideal customer. More about that below under personas.
→ Negative analysis
In this step you locate what prior product features or marketing haven’t worked. Often, this exercise can help you define your target audience. For example: let’s suppose you tried social media marketing but received few leads and sales. You may realize that your ideal customer does not use social media to make a purchase decision relating to your service or product. Maybe they are more likely to respond to email marketing.
→ Create personas
Lastly, once you’ve followed the steps outlined above, it’s time to create customer personas. How do you do that? Take the data you’ve gathered and shape it into an ideal customer. Look at your best existing customers or (if you haven’t started selling yet) the customers who buy from a competitor. Ask yourself: “If I could conjure up my ideal customer, my dream customer…what would they look like?”
A persona should be as detailed as possible. Don’t just say “Upper level manager at a factory.” Instead, say “A 46-year old male, manager at a car parts manufacturer located in the midwest.” Go on to describe their habits: what websites do they frequent, are they influenced by social media or television advertisements. Do they read? How many levels of approval do they need to make a purchasing decision?” And so on.
Summary: How Defining Your Target Audience Improves Your Marketing
If you aren’t targeting a specific audience, it’s like throwing a coin at an arcade game and hoping it lands in the slot. Enough tosses and you may eventually get the quarter to land in the slot, but you’ll also leave a lot of silver sitting on the floor.
Why not know who your ideal customer is? That way, you can target your audience with marketing campaigns designed to specifically appeal to their unique attributes. Contact Koeppel Direct to have one of our marketing specialists discuss Target Audience Analysis with you.