Marketing Basics: Defining Your Target Audience

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Because I’m a copywriter, a lot of my posts have to do with general marketing techniques that apply to both online and offline communication. In light of this, I thought it would be a good idea to do a series on the basic principles of marketing. Over the next several posts, I’ll cover everything from defining your target audience to creating a unique selling point for your business. By the time this series is complete, I hope to have given you everything you need to create a working marketing strategy for your small business (or, at the very least, to get you aimed in the right direction).

For the first post in this series, I want to talk about defining your target audience. See, the term “target audience” or “target demographic” gets thrown around a lot in marketing conversations. But more times than not, a company’s target audience is just vague definition that gets filed away in the back of a business plan somewhere. In reality, your target audience should drive every decision you make in regards to your business.

So, let’s discuss how to go about defining exactly who your target audience is. Ask yourself these questions to help you better understand who your business is working for.

1.    Who does your product appeal to, and what are their general characteristics? Let’s start out broad. General attributes to consider are your target audience’s age, sex, location, income level, and marital status.

2.    What is their motivation for buying your product or services? Is your product something they need or something they want? Does having your product elevate their social status somehow? Does it make them feel better about themselves? Or is it something that merely entertains them? In short, what is your customer’s pain? Why do they so badly need you? The point is your product adds some sort of value to their lives. Figure out what that value is.

3.    How does your target audience shop? To best market to your ideal customer, you need to figure out their purchasing habits. Do they tend to make impulse purchases, or are they more rational, logical consumers? Where do they shop? Online or in person? Are they loyal to particular brands or are they always susceptible to jump ship?

4.    Where does your target audience congregate? In order to communicate with your target audience, you need to first know where they are. If your target audience is the teenage group, figure out which social networks and other websites they frequent most. Which type of physical establishments do they hang out in? Which TV and radio stations do they tune into? Which magazines do they read? By knowing exactly where your target audience is, you can focus your marketing efforts into those areas so that you have a better chance of capturing their attention.

Once you’ve found the answers to these questions, you’ll have a better idea of who your target audience is. Your mission should always be to get to know your target audience better. That’s why I think social networking is such a great tool. While some people see Twitter as a waste of time due to a bunch of “meaningless” posts, I see it as an opportunity to get inside my audience’s mind. I can learn how they talk, what they think, what their likes and dislikes are, and what the best method is for getting a positive reaction out of them.

Who is your target audience? How do you go about connecting with them? Share your tips with us in the replies.

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