Marketing isn’t just the practice of placing ads, rather it’s a method of attracting new business. You have to know exactly who you want to target with your marketing – your target audience will not simply be “everyone”. Your task in defining your target group is to identify and understand your particular niche so you can dominate it.
The better you understand your target market, the easier you’ll be able to target them with relevant content that will stand out.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through a few steps that will help you to understand who is already interacting with your business (and competitors) and use that information to develop a clear target group.
What is a target market?
A target market is a specific, defined segment of consumers that a company plans to serve with its products or services. These are the people who are most likely to purchase your products or services and have common characteristics such as demographics and behaviors. Identifying your target market is an essential step in the development of products, services, and the marketing efforts used to promote them.
Market segmentation is the process of dividing a market of potential customers into groups, or segments, based on these different characteristics. The segments created are composed of consumers who will respond similarly to marketing strategies and who share traits such as similar interests, needs, or locations.
There are 4 types of market segmentation:
- Geographic segmentation – involves grouping potential customers by country, state, region, city or even neighborhood.
- Demographic segmentation – divides a market through variables such as age, gender, education level, family size, occupation, income, and more.
- Psychographic segmentation– focuses on the intrinsic traits your target customer possesses. Psychographic traits can range from values, personalities, interests, attitudes, lifestyles, and opinions.
- Behavioral segmentation– focuses on specific reactions and the way customers go through their decision making and buying processes. Attitudes towards your brand, the way they use it, and their knowledge base are all examples of behavioral segmentation.
Marketers can use segmentation to prioritize their target audiences. If segmentation shows that some consumers would be more likely to buy a product than others, marketers can better allocate their attention and resources. The purpose of segmentation is that you are able to introduce a more tailored message that will be received successfully.
What is a target audience?
A “target audience” is more narrow than a “target market”. It refers specifically to the group of consumers targeted by marketing messaging. A target audience is a group of people that has significant potential to respond positively to a brand message. Your target audience may or may not be the end users of your product, but they are the people you plan to direct your marketing to.
To communicate effectively with your target audience, you need to understand who they are and what their true needs and desires are.
How to define your target audience
Know the value of your product/service
When identifying your target audience, it is important to determine the features of your product or service. What needs does your product or service fulfill for a potential customer? How does your product or service differ from others in your industry? Is your product more affordable? Is it more effective? These are some things that need to be taken into account before figuring out who will be on the receiving end of your marketing efforts. Think about those who may be interested and who might benefit from your product or service. These are the people that will make up your target audience.
Get to know your existing audience
When trying to figure out who wants to buy from you, a great first step is to identify who is already using your products or services.
How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do for work? What social networks do they use? Do they scroll through their feeds on a mobile device or the computer? These are all questions that you need to be able to answer about your current customers, and once you understand their characteristics, you can go after more people who fit the same mold.
One way to start is by gathering whatever information you have about your existing customers. Some data points that you may want to consider are:
- Age: This is one area that doesn’t need to be too specific. Whether your average customer is 23 or 27, it won’t really make that much of a difference. Rather knowing which decade of life your customers are in, or their generation can be much more useful.
- Stage of life: are your customers college students? Parents of young children or teens? Retirees?
- Interests: what do your customers like to do? What other businesses do they interact with?
- Location and time zone: Where in the world do your existing customers live? If you’re based in the PST time zone and have followers in the EST and GMT time zones you might find posting at 8 a.m. PST works best because it hits the workday in both other regions. Understanding where your customers are located geographically is so important when deciding what time you should post to ensure best visibility.
- Spending patterns: How much money do your current customers have to spend? How do they approach purchases in your price category?
Check in on Your Competition
Now that you have a better idea of who is already interacting with your business, it’s time to dig a little deeper and see who’s engaging with your competitors.
Looking into who is interacting with your competition can answer some key questions: are you and your competitors both going after the same market segments? Who are they currently targeting? Are they reaching segments you hadn’t thought to consider?
You won’t be able to get detailed research about the people interacting with your competitors, but you’ll be able to get a general sense of approach they’re taking and whether that is allowing them to create engagement online.
Define your target market and revise as needed. You shouldn’t think of your target market as set in stone. As you learn more about your customers, how you define your target market will most likely change. So, work to understand who your business serves, and why they should care.
As your business grows, your target audience may change, and finding this specific group of people should be a continual effort.