Have you ever been served an advertisement for a product or service that seems to be perfectly tailored to you? Whether you’re already interested in purchasing it, or it captures your attention because it closely aligns with your interests, the ad resonates with you. But, how does a brand do this?
Truth be told, they’re not magicians or mind-readers. They didn’t serve you that ad because they’re taking a guess. Instead, they’re serving it because they know that it will hit home. Because they’ve spent countless hours researching their market and developing a detailed target audience to ensure that they’re reaching not as many people as possible, but rather, the people who matter the most.
But what is a target audience?
Great question! Let’s take it back to marketing 101. When developing a marketing plan, determining your target audience is generally the second step after you’ve completed a business and SWOT analysis.
According to Dictionary.com, a target audience is defined as the intended group for which something is performed or marketed, or the specific group to which advertising is directed. That specific group of people share the same defining demographics—gender, age, location, profession, income, education level, and marital status—and are interested in your products and services.
For instance, if you’re a real estate agent who specializes in first-time homebuyers, your target audience will encompass new homebuyers. However, the more narrow-focused your target market is, the better the outcome. So instead of just a broad audience of first-time homebuyers, you can take it one step further and hone in the following groups of people:
- Newly married couples in their late 20s and early 30s
- College graduates
- Average combined income of $100k–$150k
- Currently renting
Why is it important?
For many businesses, marketing is an afterthought. Either their budget doesn’t account for it, or they simply don’t see the value in marketing. Regardless of the reason, not having a marketing plan in action can be extremely detrimental to your success. However, you need to be cautious. There’s no room for mediocre marketing. In fact, bad marketing is equivalent to no marketing. This is where your target audience is important.
The benefits of a target audience are twofold. First, identifying a defined target audience helps your company develop effective marketing communication strategies. Honing in on a set of individuals who share similar needs or characteristics is a surefire way to increase sales.
In addition, a target audience can also help you connect on a personal level with your customers. In order for anyone to buy into the idea of a product or service, they need to relate to the content of the advertisement. Knowing the specific characteristics of your prospects enables you to tailor your marketing efforts to resonate and strike a chord with them. Once a connection is made, trust is established. And once trust is established, a sale can be made.
How do I define my target audience?
Take a look at your current customer base.
Surprise—your current list of customers can reveal quite a bit! Take the time to look at who currently buys from you, what they purchase, and why they’re buying. Then, look for common characteristics between your customers. If a large group of like-minded individuals are utilizing your services and products, there’s a good chance that additional people will want to do the same.
Research your competition.
We can’t stress this enough—don’t go after the same market! There’s no point in putting money into targeting the same exact group of people who your competition is after. Instead, take your research, and try to uncover a niche market that could benefit from your products and services.
Analyze your products and services.
Sure, you’re well-versed in what you offer, but do you know how they can benefit a specific group of customers? Simply create a list of your products and services and include their particular benefits next to it. For example, if you’re a dentist who specializes in reconstructive oral surgery, then a potential benefit could be an improved physical and mental well-being. This list can help you identify additional groups of people who could benefit from what you offer.
Select the demographics to target.
Who is most likely to buy and/or utilize your products and services? When determining the demographics, you should include the following factors: gender, age, location, profession, income, education level, and marital status.
Evaluate your decision.
Once you’ve determined your target market, you’ll want to evaluate your decision. Consider things like if there are enough people that fall into your criteria, will they really benefit from your product/service, and if you truly understand your audience to discover what drives their behavior.
While drawing up your target audience can take countless hours of research and copious amounts of caffeine, the outcome will certainly be worth it. An effective target market is bound to get the most bang for your marketing bucks and drive your sales.