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  • Writer's pictureDavid A. Schneider

How To Find Your Target Audience

Updated: Feb 6, 2023


No matter what your product or industry is, we are all in business to sell something ultimately.

And that requires you to have a clear strategy in place for gathering attention in marketing and later on a properly designed sales process to convert that attention into buying customers.


There are a myriad of tools that can help you to achieve this, most of which we have already covered in our blog posts such as Building a Sales Pipeline, using Sales Scripts, Creating Urgency or any of the other tactics we introduced here, they all require you to start with a certain base of customers first.

And that base my friend is a clearly defined target audience.



What is a Target Audience?

Finding a target audience
If you were a radio station, who would tune in?

Similar to finding and determining your Ideal Customer Profile, a target audience will give you a first selection of who your product is for and who it is clearly not for.

The difference is mainly that a customer profile refers to the individual person you are talking and marketing to, whereas the target audience is the broader scope with the overall market.



The target audience is therefore the group of people with the highest priority in being interested in what you have to offer.

Essentially, they - and only they - should be the ones who see your ad campaigns.

These can be separated from the mass by several factors which you first have to determine.



This is where our work starts:


The personal interests of your market can be one of the major selecting factors, often people that have similar interests also like or use similar products.

You could also look for subcultures like the music they listen to, the movies they like to watch or the magazines they read.


Another factor could come from purchase intentions or even past purchases.

Someone who just bought a new car might be interested in the titanium rims you are selling. Someone who just bought a new phone might need a case to protect it.

And someone who just bought a house will need insurance for it.


Another source might be certain habits people in this group have.

Do these people attend church on a Sunday?

Are they living in the same neighborhood?

How do they spend their weekends?

etc.


You can even combine several factors all at once.

Did they just buy a house and like football?

Did they buy a new phone and listen to rock music?

Etc.


Of course you can even use a number of factors, until the group really is narrowed down and highly-targeted for your advertising.

Before you can clearly tell apart your target market from the rest of the herd, you should go back over your desired group again and try to find things they have incommon or look for anything that could help you to separate them from the rest.

Only then should you move on to market and sell to them, otherwise you risk wasting precious time and money on people who would not buy from you anyway.



However, it really makes sense to first work on your Customer Profile, and only later on creating the target audience that consists of the highest probability of exactly these people.

There are several ways to sort and segment your target market, which you will all learn in the steps of creating the right customer profile.


When you are done, you can then proceed to optimize your current workflow.

Start with the sales process you currently have and also analyze how this will fit into your planned marketing to ultimately achieve a seamlessly integrated customer experience for this exact group of people.


But first, let's look at the step-by-step process of defining your audience.




How To Define Your Target Audience


Step 1: Define the group - Who is it for?


The most commonly used denominators for an audience will be gender, age, income, place of residency, and so forth.

It is basically any characteristic that you can clearly identify for your desired group.

But you can also use a more narrow approach with hints that already come from your customer profile, such as interactions with your brand, any contact the person already had with your business, online responses and so forth.

If you have not read our article about defining a Customer Profile, you should do so now to get a better understanding of the overall process before you start.


The exact criteria you should use will depend on your product and how you intend to sell it.

Having a clear understanding of who the customer is, what he or she likes about your products and why they buy from you especially instead of from competitors is what will be very important.


You should know their desires, worries, the places they hang out, ideally even their opinions on certain topics.

The more reliable data you have, the easier it will be to define your target audience and reach them ultimately.



Step 2: Selecting the right media to reach your target audience


Running a superbowl ad makes your product visible to millions of people all at once.

Your product will be displayed to an incredibly large audience in a very short time.

It will probably also cost you millions, too.

But does it make economic sense for your products?



As this article is about targeting your market, you probably already correctly assumed that this is not the best idea for around 99% of businesses out there.

If 50.000.000 people see your ad, but only a very tiny fraction of it even notice or remember it because they are generally not interested in your product, even this massive exposure can be futile.


Even if we are not taking the equally massive costs into account.

Attention spans these days are shorter than ever, and customers have become trained and very good at ignoring what is not important to them.

Sure, such an ad will bring you something. But those millions can be invested more cleverly for small businesses, if you happen to have them



Such mass-scale advertising is still largely used to promote consumer products such as toothpaste, detergents or clothing. For these brands, creating consumer habits and a certain attitude towards a brand is important, which is why such broad exposure serves as an ideal advertising channel for them.

For such mass-market products, it might still make sense if there is such a clear objective that can be reached with such ads.

Their purpose is in most cases to generate brand loyalty or brand awareness.



For most small or midsized businesses however, these advertising channels are very expensive and not really suited to bring results.

Here we need marketing to help us make sales, or to get the word out that our products and services exist.


Hence it is more useful to have your message delivered to a comparatively small amount of people, but people where you can expect higher response rates and better interactions because they are more likely to be interested in what you offer.

There are a number of media channels which will help you to do exactly that and can ultimately bring you a direct return on invest, instead of just good publicity.


For example if you sell hiking and outdoor equipment, you will want to be seen by people interested in such hobbies.

Therefore a magazine that caters to these people and their interests would be a good idea to advertise your product.



What the right media is for your product, will of course depend solely on the interests, activities and presences of your target audience.

There is unfortunately no one-size-fits-all approach.

If you are in business for quite some time however, you should already have a clear understanding of what these channels are for you.

But if you have just started out, the next point of this article will explain to you in more detail how to get started with finding the right media and the right strategy for reaching your target audience.



Building your Target Audience

define your target market
Put your audience together, one piece at a time.

After you have defined your audience, you might already have a clear idea and know exactly where to start. Maybe the searching for common traits and habits has given you so much details and insight, you only need to pick the fruit from the tree of customers.

On the other hand it might also happen however, that you have not yet really a picture in your head on how to proceed from this point.

Hang in there.

Let’s get started at the bottom and see how we build our target market step by step.



1. Conduct Interviews with your customers


To build your audience you have to know a lot about them.

Usually in a tight business relationship you will already have a good idea what kind of people you are dealing with. But there are other situations where you know next to nothing about the customer.

If you don’t know a lot about your customers, what keeps them up at night, what challenges they face, where they hang out and so forth, how can you find out such details?

Simple: you ask them.



The best way to ask is to be upfront and make an appointment with your best customers.

Tell them honestly that you want to improve your service and your products to serve them better.

Let them know it will only take a couple of minutes and that their time will be highly appreciated. Hardly anyone can resist being served better.


If you have a large customer base however, you are facing another dilemma:

Which customers should I ask?

What if customer A wants a feature that customer B absolutely hates?

Who should you listen to first?


To find the answers to these questions, follow step nr.2:



2. Find out who your best customers are


The best way to get out of this dilemma is to sort your customers by who your best customers are.

Some of them will buy more from you, and more often than others - which makes these customers much more valuable to your business.

With some customers you will naturally enjoy a great sense of cooperation.

You just get along with each other, just like in your private life there are some people you like more and others less.


If you are in business for a while, you will probably also equally have these types of customers who absolutely are not a fit for you, but somehow you needed the revenue despite knowing they might bring troubles later along the way.

And there are those who buy only the smallest, cheapest version of your product - and then call you 2 times a week because something is not working as they would like it to.



I am pretty sure you have experienced both sides of the medallion, and can intuitively tell your best customers apart from those who do not make a good fit.

If not, simply look at the blank numbers and check which customers are the most profitable for you and your business.

Those who bring in the most revenue into your business, should be the ones who deserve the most of your attention.

They are already buying your product, know your brand and obviously trust you because they bought from you.


Starting interviewing your best customer to ask for their opinions on your services, the quality of your products and so on.

But also ask them in detail about how they heard from your business, what their current challenges are, how their business or life is working out, what their desires or troubles could be and more.


Carefully note down what their answers are and try to find patterns among your best customers in their behavior.

Are they all fans of the same sports club?

Is their business making more than 10 million in revenue?

Are they married and have kids?

All these details could give you an important hint on how to proceed with finding your ideal audience.



3. Conduct market research


If your customers do not deliver the expected breakthrough to distinctly define your audience, you can always turn to classic market research.


You can do the research yourself or hire a specialized agency. Very often this is research done through surveys in the market.

If you have a strong online presence for example, the easiest and also cheapest way to do this would be to directly embed an online survey into your homepage, app or whatever you are offering.


The important part is how exactly these questions are put.

Asked one way a question can suggest a certain way of thinking, while asked another way the basically same question would actually generate different results.

Be careful and look exactly at your intentions to get the result you want.

Our goal is to honestly find out what the person is thinking, hence we don't want to suggest anything to them with our wording.



Market research can also help you to identify trends that are currently going on, or give you a hint on how strong a trend really is in the head of customers.

Online surveys can also be done cheaply and fast.




4. Analyze your competition


From research we know that customers who are buying one product are at least considering the product of the competition as well.

The book How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp explains in detail with scientific evidence, that “customer loyalty” is largely a myth and any brand shares its, customers also with other brands in the market.

In most cases therefore, large brands also share their customer base with each other and there is no difference in personality between a person buying a Toyota or a Nissan.

Meaning one day a person who is drinking Cola can drink Pepsi the next day for example.


Dozens of studies have been conducted to determine distinct personality features depending on what car people drive or what TV Channel they watch.

The idea was that someone who eats at McDonalds has to be a different person than someone who eats at Burger King.

Millions of dollars have been spent on this research.

So far they have found…. nothing.


This means there is no definable difference between people who drive a Chevrolet or a Ford, between people who eat Vanilla ice cream or Strawberry, or between people who buy Gucci or Louis Vuitton.

Hence all these brands share their customers with each other.


This means that one of the best, quickest and easiest ways to define your target audience would be to look for buyers of your direct competition.

If you sell running shoes, look for people who buy other running shoes as well.

If you sell furniture, look for people who buy furniture somewhere else.

If you sell travel packages, look for people who buy other travel packages.

And so forth.


Your competitors basically have done all the hard lifting in this case for you.

All you have to do is now go out and make clever use of their audience.



5. Use your web analytics


Today I doubt that there is any brand or significant business out there that is not at least having a website.

On your website, there will already be people interested in what you have to offer, people who heard about your services, people who look for a product like yours.

As a sophisticated website owner and webmaster, you will already have at least one analytics program in place which tracks your visitors.



Many CMS systems you can build your website with will already have such systems in place automatically and deliver you relevant data from day one.

If you don't have them however, Google Analytics will be the most popular one to use.

It is free and also allows you to track relevant data with many details and options for customizing the experience to your needs.


A great deal will be automatically tracked which you can then use as a starting point to define your target market.

Among those details are gender, age, location, content they engage or connect with, social media channels they use, and many more of the points we already discussed.

This is already a great starting point if you have not yet defined anything about your target audience.

You are basically served a first base of a defined target audience right out of your existing web traffic.



Evaluate you results


After you have gathered a clear profile of who fits into your target market and who does not, it is time to critically assess what you have put together.

However, be aware of being too narrowly focused on your market and


The first question will be if there are enough people at all in your target market.

Take into account that a marketing message has to spread over a large number of people to ultimately have an impact.


If there are only 10.000 people in your target market, be assured that this is way too small to run a business from it.

Make sure that there are enough people in the target audience not only to run ads effectively, but also to run a business in the 7-figures long-term and that this market will be stable for the next few years.


Are there trends that might indicate a coming shift in this market?

What will the future look like?

Are there traditions in the market that might be replaced soon by new technology?



Next you should look at your product and ask if the given group really benefits from it. Business will only be successful long-term if people really are happy with what they buy, so make sure that for those people in the group they not only fit with your criteria, but also that your product solves their problems or fulfills their wishes.

A critical part of this is also if the group is willing to spend the price you ask for your product, especially if you sell high-priced goods and services.

Even the best targeting can fail, if the people targeted simply do not have the necessary money to buy what is offered.




Reach your Target Audience in the right way

reaching your target audience
Go to the places where your audience already hangs out.

After you have defined the market you would like to reach, it is time for setting up a repeatable strategy to reach them.

The media and advertising channels you select will play a major role as they will serve as the vehicle to connect with your audience.

It will depend on the data you should know by now, such as what media they consume and how or where exactly they put their attention.


Some audiences will be easier and cheaper to reach, while others will be harder to reach, more resistant to your messages, and advertising will be more costly in the end.

This is a perfectly normal situation for many markets and has to be taken into account as well.

For more difficult audiences in terms of personality or reachability, expect to spend more than usual to get your messages across to them.


The magic behind defining the right audience is finding the perfect combination of market size, reachability and willingness to connect and buy your products.

Once that definition is made, reaching them should be way easier because now all you have to do is follow their tracks and look where they hang out and what is of interest to them.



If your business is selling multiple products, you might want to establish a marketing channel for every product category you are offering, to be more focused with your individual campaigns.


For example:

Vans has a different social media channel for their shoes, and another one for their surfing equipment.

A car brand could have a different channel for their SUVs and Trucks, and another one for sports cars they offer.

With each new channel, the entire marketing messages and contents are tailor-made for that specific audience


Try also to engage with your audience and receive direct feedback from them.

If one of your followers mentions your product should be available in more colors, that is just one single opinion.

But if 100 of your followers start saying the same thing, you are on track to find a major chance for improving your products.

This is also an easy way to improve your products over time.



Congregating of audiences



The good news is, especially if you have no clear idea how to reach your audience at first, that your audience in most cases is already gathered somewhere.

In particular online, there are social media groups or online boards for basically anything.


Look at any topic you like online.

Chances are high that there are fan groups, influential people who talk about it in some way, evaluate it, or even have websites for this topic.

People who share the same worldview, opinions or the same interests and hobbies like to hang out and communicate with other people who have that same interest.

Such groups exist in all kinds of fashions and often serve as a place where the community interacts with each other and communicates about the topic.


It is similar to people from a certain religion gathering at their local church or temple.

Online, people do exactly the same thing.

Just the topics might be a little more special and niched-down.

However, if you have a market that is large enough to sustain a business from it, you can be sure that there is at least one of such groups that will fit for your offering.


This means that there is already a place where your target market comes together, and the heavy lifting of your marketing has already been done for you in these places.

Depending on how narrowly focused your audience is, there might also be several different places being a fit for your product or service.

You will then have to decide how many of these places you want to target at once, or which ones are the easiest and most lucrative to target in the first place.


If you find that your audience already exists in such a form, the next question will be how to start interacting with them in a helpful manner.

The more narrowly focused and exclusive this group is, the more careful you should be when you start marketing to them.


In many online boards and groups there are usually only people who are interested in this topic and who contribute to it in some meaningful way.

Marketers or people trying to sell something are therefore not really welcome there, understandably.

Hence there are two ways to tap into this audience if you want to market your product in such a place:



  • Look for opportunities to genuinely advertise your product, with display ads, facebook ads or similar. If it is an online board, you can also directly contact the webmaster and ask how much it would be to advertise on their site. Often these boards also have exclusive deals such as marketing to their email lists, which can highly fluctuate in price of course. If your product is really helpful and interesting for this type of people, you should easily convert these advertisements into leads and then see how the community interacts with it. This is the more costly and direct way, but can earn you results really fast therefore.


  • The next opportunity would be to join the group yourself, and contribute to it at first as well. No, posting your product with a sales code to get 10% off is not contributing! I am talking about really becoming a member of the community and offering help or insight to other people and thereby organically earning their respect and trust online. Sure, sooner or later you will have to disguise that you actually sell products related to this topic. If you have really brought value to the community, you should have the chance to at least show them your offering. If your product really delivers what it promises, you now get a chance to prove it to just the right kind of people. This tactic will require hard work often for months with unclear results of return to honestly. But it will not really cost you anything beyond your time. If you are an expert in your field, and have important things to contribute it can be a valuable way to get in front of exactly the right audience basically for free.




To sum it up, what do you have to do to find your target audience?


  1. Define the market that is well-suited for your offering

  2. Build your target audience using customer interview,s survey, or the other tactis we just introduced

  3. Select the right media and advertising channel to get in front your audience in the right way

  4. Measure results, and adjust or repeat the efforts.

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