Identifying a narrow demographic as your target audience is the first step for any new branding or marketing campaign. Unless, of course, you’re sitting on an unlimited budget or don’t care how effective your marketing efforts and expenditure are.
The main reason business owners avoid this step is because they believe they’re excluding everyone else. The more people exposed to the marketing, the more potential customers or clients, right?
In theory, yes. But in reality, if you try to reach everyone, you waste money, time, and resources on audiences you’re irrelevant to. Plus, it’s impossible to craft a brand message (or even an ad punchline) that speaks intellectually or emotionally to everyone.
Defining a target market allows you to focus your money and attention on the people most likely to provide an ROI. It’s the smartest, leanest, most cost-effective way to market successfully. And members of a properly delineated target audience share certain values, ideas, world views, goals, desires, needs, or something else that makes it possible to speak compellingly to them at the same time.
Knowing exactly whose opinion matters most to the continuing and growing success of your brand is another major advantage. This gives you a useful perspective when making creative decisions, and it also makes it possible to gather feedback that helps you truly improve your products or services.
A few simple questions get you well on your way to identifying an appropriate target market:
- What need/desire does my product or service fulfill, or what problem does it solve?
- To whom is this need/desire/problem most pressing?
- What generalizations can be drawn about similarities among these people? This could include things like gender, age, ethnicity, location, education, income, profession, marital/family status, goals, personality, beliefs, attitudes, taste, hobbies, habits, lifestyle choices, buying patterns, other products/services they use, and much more.
- Through what marketing avenues am I most likely to reach the people I’ve identified? Be specific; for example, “online” is not a useful answer, but particular websites are.
The more research performed, the more similarities you uncover, and the more specific you get, the clearer the outlines become of your target market. Of course, a balance must be struck between a narrowly enough defined group and a big enough group to sustain your business.
Once you’ve honed in on a target audience, it’s time to figure out how to most effectively capture their attention and convince them you’re the best supplier. This starts with defining your unique selling proposition.