January 25, 2023

How to Define Your Target Audience

If you launch a new product or service and think that it is suitable for absolutely everyone, you are making a huge mistake - you are defining your target audience wrong.

Trying to build a brand without properly defining the target audience is doomed to failure. You risk wasting money, time, and energy on developing a brand identity and implementing marketing that simply won't resonate with anyone. When you understand who your ideal customer is, you can rely on this knowledge and make strategy-based decisions about your visual appearance, messaging and overall marketing.

When the consumer feels like you're talking directly to them, trust starts to build and your conversions start to soar. The more specific you can be, the better! So, in this article, I want to help you figure out how you can analyse and find your target audience on your own.

What is a Target Audience?

Marketers use the term "target audience" to refer to a group of people who are likely to buy a particular product or service. These people are united by some common features, such as gender, age, occupation, education, habits and hobbies, social class, location, etc. To break through the noise and actually reach your potential clients, you need to promote your products and services to a well-defined group of people.

The target audience is not always the end user (for example, the target audience of children's toys is parents, but the end users are the children themselves). But these people are the ones you want to sell your products or services to.

Target Audience Example: Women aged 30-35, living in New York, who have a college degree, work in an office, enjoy nature and outdoor activities, and wish to spend more time with their children.

A clear definition of the target audience helps to tailor every detail of your product and marketing to their needs and desires.

Can There be Multiple Target Audiences?

Definitely yes! Larger brands have several target audiences, which are called segments.

Each of the potential buyers may have their own pain points that your product solves. For example, one buyer may choose sustainable cosmetics because it is beneficial for their health, while the other – because it is better for the planet. Each of these buyers obviously needs a different messaging and approach to marketing campaigns.

Several advertising campaigns with different messages and visuals will be more effective than one ad designed for everyone. Therefore, it's wise to split customers up into different categories and craft an offer just for them. This is what is called “target audience segmentation”.

A study by MailChimp found that segmented campaigns performed noticeably better than the non-segmented ones.

Sometimes audience can’t be segmented by a certain criteria. For example, it makes no sense to divide visitors of a vegan cafe by gender. Both men and women will respond approximately the same to ads and content, so segmentation by gender is a waste of time and effort in this case.

So, how can we segment the target audience?

You can segment your audience according to different criteria:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Income
  • Interests

You can define other segments that are important in your business.

One of the most famous audience segmentation methods was proposed by Mark Sherrington and is called 5W. To identify customer groups, you need to answer 5 questions:

What (What)?You need to determine what exactly you offer to the consumer. It will help to segment the audience by the type of products they are interested in.

Who (Who)?Who exactly is buying the product?

Why (Why)?What problems and needs does the customer have, and how does your product solve them?

When (When)?What situation causes the customer to purchase your product?

Where (Where)?Where is a purchase or decision made? It can be online (website, social media) or offline.

Customer portraits created with the help of 5W method will help to understand the pains of the audience and more accurately research their needs. This is far more effective than just dividing your audience by gender and age.

Demography and Psychography.

In a 2019 survey by research firm Redburn and PwC, it was estimated that the global market sector is valued at $1.7 trillion!

Gone are the days of bland demographic-based marketing. Consumers have too many ads vying for their attention, so it's time to get smart about targeting your ideal customers.

Demographic data can be a great place to start when you're looking to build your audience, but it's not the be-all end-all. It's not always accurate and, let's be honest, it's not always gonna help you identify your real target audience. Take a vegan cafe for example. You could have wealthier folks with higher incomes and students who are real sustainability advocates, all walking in the same door. So, can we then use annual income as a criterion? Hardly.

Understanding your audience's interests and hobbies, lifestyle, what they like and what beliefs drive them is a crucial part of getting to know your target customers. By getting a better understanding of what they are looking for, you are able to tailor your marketing to their needs, which can give you a great advantage in the marketplace. It may even help you to create products and services that meet their needs and desires, which could lead to higher sales and engagement levels.

Additionally, by understanding what drives your customers, you can create a more personalised marketing experience for them, which will help to build better relationships and trust. Knowing your customers and their buying habits is key to marketing success.

How to Create a Customer Portrait of the Target Audience

The best way to understand your potential client is to create a customer portrait. If the target audience has several segments, you can create a portrait for each of them. A customer portrait is a generalized, detailed view of your ideal customer, which helps to create a connection with your target audience more accurately and effectively. It's much easier to be on the same page with your customers when you can image a real human rather than an abstract group.

It is important to create a very detailed image, but don’t get too crazy and make sure to include only details that will affect the customer's decision to purchase. The customer portrait shouldn’t be just a fantasy, but an actually useful tool for your business. The customer portrait should ideally cover:

  • Gender, age
  • Location
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Annual income
  • Hobbies, interests
  • Values, beliefs
  • What problems do they face, what worries them
  • What are they afraid of
  • What do they want from your product

5 Ways to Define Your Target Audience

How do you get all the data described above? First, you need to answer the following questions:

  • What problem do you solve?
  • What need do you meet?
  • What desire do you fulfil?

There are several relatively easy ways to get answers to these questions.

Survey your audience.

In order to create a customer portrait and describe your target audience, you can do your own research. It's not necessary to hire an agency - you can do all the research yourself! Offer your audience a bonus or helpful file in exchange for taking a survey — or just ask them on social media. Typeform, SurveyMonkey, and even Google Form make it easy to do surveys for free.

Explore social media.

In addition, social networks are a super useful tool to research your audience. You can easily keep track of who your potential clients follow, what they're into, and what posts they like.

Competitor research.

Do some research on your competitors and check out their audience. Pay attention to their advertising, tone of voice, messaging, and of course branding. Analyze the profiles of active community members to get a general idea about the competitor’s subscribers.

Determine exactly who your ideal client is NOT.

As well as getting to grips with who your ideal customers are, it's important to know who they ain't. This technique helps you fine-tune and reinforce your messaging. Try to be as precise as you can about who your audience is and isn't.

Make assumptions.

If a survey isn't an option, you can make assumptions about your audience based on personal experience and your idea of what this audience should be. This is the least accurate, rather dangerous, but acceptable method of defining your audience. After all, the audience can change (and it most likely will) as your business grows and develops. And that's okay.

Refine Your Target Audience.

Once you've nailed down who you're selling to, you need to make sure that this market is actually worth it.

Consider the size of the market, its potential growth, the value of the product to the customer, and the resources you have to invest in marketing and advertising. Also, review the competition in the market and determine if you have an advantage over them. Analyzing these variables will help you decide if this market is the right one for you and your business.

Try answering these questions:

  • Are there enough people in the target market to sustain our business?
  • Does this market segment have the money to buy our product or service?
  • Will they buy repeatedly, or will we have to constantly attract new customers?
  • Is there a strong competition for this market segment?
  • If there isn't, why is that?
  • If there is, what separates us from the competition – why should customers buy from us?
  • How accessible is this target market?

Research can give your business a head start, but the best way to measure and improve your audience is through real-life tests with real data.

And remember that selling your product to everyone is a wrong strategy, especially for small businesses. So be specific.