Learn what a target audience is, how to find yours and why it’s important to define and market to your audience appropriately.

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  2. Defining Your Target Audience: What It Is and Why It’s Important

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published February 4, 2020

Identifying a target audience and marketing to that audience is a technique practiced by businesses of all sizes. Knowing your target audience influences your marketing in many ways, including the name you give to your product or service, the style and tone of your marketing and the channels through which you market your product or service. In this article, we explore what a target audience is, why it’s important and how you can find yours.

What is a target audience?

A target audience is the segment of the population most likely to buy your product or use your service. These people normally have certain characteristics in common. They may belong to a particular trade or industry, fall within a specific age group or have an interest in common. For example, if you offer electrical services, your target audience will include construction companies and homeowners. If you make tires, you will target car manufacturers, car retailers and mechanics.

The idea of a target audience does not limit you to this group only. It does, however, focus your marketing so you can invest more time and money into attracting those most likely to buy your product or service.

Related: 7 Ways to Market a Small Business

Why is a target audience important?

Finding your target audience is important for several reasons. These include:

How to find a target audience

Here are some steps to help you identify your target audience:

  1. Analyze your current audience.
  2. List your product or service benefits.
  3. Look at your competition.
  4. Run a test campaign.
  5. Re-evaluate.

1. Analyze your current audience

A good place to begin finding your target audience is with your current audience. Research who is purchasing your product or service. A majority of your current customers may share things in common, such as an age range, a location or a profession. All of these common factors give you a profile of your target audience.

To gather this information, you can buy customer relationship management (CRM) software or hire a company to perform the research for you. Consider also your previous advertising and outreach campaigns. Those who responded best to these are probably within your target audience.

You can also try customer surveys. On your business website, invite customers to complete a five- or ten-minute survey giving some general demographic information. You can also ask where they heard of your product or service and where they purchased it. This should give you a good indication of who is most interested in your product or service.

2. List your product or service benefits

List all the features of your product or service. These features are the things that define your product or service. Also, list the features that make your product or service unique from your competition.

Next, list beside each feature the benefits of that feature. A benefit is something that improves your customer’s life or experience. It explains why that benefit is important to your customer.

While building your list, you probably already have a general idea of your target customer. For example, if you design and develop apps for cell phones, your broad target audience will be people who own cell phones. As you identify the features and benefits of the apps you create, you might define your audience more specifically. If the apps encourage good nutrition and exercise, you can narrow down your target audience to people interested in healthy living.

3. Look at your competition

Most products or services are enhancements or improvements upon existing products or services. Yours may have unique features but you undoubtedly have competition. It’s also likely some of your competition has been around longer than you. Look at how they have marketed their product or service in the past and the audience they targeted. You probably want to target that same audience to try to draw customers away from them.

While analyzing your competition, you may also notice gaps in their marketing. These could be opportunities to market to a demographic group that is obvious to you but neglected by them. You might be aware of customer feedback that indicates a segment of the population who are dissatisfied with your competition because their concerns are not addressed.

This kind of research and analysis could help inform you where you should be targeting your marketing efforts.

4. Run a test campaign

Once you have identified your target audience, run a test campaign to see how well that audience responds. Use the media outlet most appropriate for the demographic you have identified. For example, a young audience might look at social media advertising, whereas an older demographic might look for print ads. If you get a lot of interest from the test campaign, you can feel confident you have correctly identified your target audience.

5. Re-evaluate

Be aware that your target audience may change over time. As you modify your service or product, or as audience tastes change, you will need to revisit your marketing. Plan to conduct periodic reviews of your target audience so you can make sure you are still reaching out to the right people for your product or service. Also, be prepared to adjust the methods you use to reach that audience to be sure you are marketing to them with a message that still resonates.

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