Defining Your Target Audience

Investors, employees, marketing teams, and others will ask you at some point who your target audience is. If you can’t answer that question, you have a problem—and a lot of businesses can’t. So how do you start to figure out an answer?

What Is a Target Audience?

According to Indeed, a target audience is “the demographic of consumers who are most likely to buy or be interested in your products or services.” These are the people your marketing team is going to try and reach, the people your designers are building your products for, the people who are going to give you money because they’re the ones who actually like what you’re offering.

How Specific Should You Be?

The same article from Indeed gives this list of attributes that will help you define exactly who it is you’re trying to reach.

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Martial status
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Hobbies
  • Personal fears and desires

For example, if your target audience is 18- to 24-year-olds, that’s too vague. How about 18- to 24-year-old women? Even better might be 18- to 24-year-old single women working in the service industry in the Tri-County area? Now that’s a target audience!

On the other hand, while a specific target audience is helpful, you don’t want it to be too specific. 18- to 24-year-old single women in the Tri-County area waitressing as they finish college and roller skating on the weekends is going to be far too much. You might find three customers within your target if that’s your MO.

Your target audience can also be specific to something like a hobby, such as guitar players or volleyball hobbyists. A fourteen-year-old learning to play guitar and a sixty-year-old who has been playing since he was fourteen might both need a tuning app that has a metronome. Beginning guitar players might be a more helpful category if you’re selling how-to books or lessons, but it depends on what you’re selling, which brings us to our next point.

Start with the Product

When figuring out your target audience, you should always begin by looking at what exactly you’re selling. What needs does it fulfill? Who will it help? You’ll need to identify a pain point that is repeated in people’s lives, and how your product fixes that pain point. Then, the job of your marketing team is to tell the people who are experiencing that specific problem in their life (that’s your target audience!) that you’ve got a solution. If your product meets the need, it might even sell enough to define your target audience for you.

As your business grows, do everything you can to keep track of who is buying your product. Customer surveys about their demographics will be immensely helpful for defining and refining your target audience. Once you know who is using your product—whether it was your original intended audience or not—you can tailor your marketing to appeal to them and capitalize on the market you’re creating.

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