How to define your target audience? Who are you selling to? This should be the very first question you ask yourself before starting any marketing activities. Who will buy your product or your service? When you know who they are, it is much easier to determine what channels they are using and how you can reach them. It is not for nothing that huge FMCG companies are performing frequent and thorough consumer studies, both qualitative and quantitative. These studies help them know their target group better and even give ideas for product improvement as well as learning how to most efficiently address their favorite customers.
Now, as a small startup, or as a one man entrepreneur business, you probably don’t have the big bucks of multinationals. This is why we have put together a quick guide that can help you start defining your business’ target audience.
Target Audience Truths
Before we start, we just want to go through a couple of often heard misconceptions about target audience. Let’s establish the 3 truths. If you take anything away from this article, please remember the below:
Truth 01 – “Everyone” is not your target audience
Often, when we consult with startups, entrepreneurs and SMEs, when we ask the question “Who is your target audience?”, we get the answer “Everyone”. If you think your target audience is “everyone”, think again. If you target everyone, chances are, you end up selling to no-one.
Imagine. You spend money on a social media campaign and blast advertising out to absolutely everyone. You will probably spend a lot of money on reaching people who is not even remotely interested in your product or service. So knowing your target audience well, is the very first step of being effective about your marketing budget.
Truth 02 – Your customer profile might be different than your target audience profile
Yes, sometimes you speak to one person and another person buys your product. For example, if you are buying a game for a child, the child probably wanted this game in the first place. At Lime Agency, we do NOT recommend targeting children on the internet. If your product and service happens to be a toy, a game or any product that a child with make use of, talk to the parents and the people that are interesting in buying gifts for the child, not the child itself.
Another interesting example can be the story of when my son had saved money to buy himself an Xbox. He had planned buying a cheaper option which would result in a big, ugly, black box, sitting in the middle of our living room. As I did not want this ugly box in the living room, and I did not want to put the box in his own room, I ended up sponsoring a much nicer, smaller, and white Xbox, fitting perfectly in my living room. Thank you, Microsoft, for understanding my need of a beautiful item.
Truth 03 – Sometimes its not only about demography
The traditional way of determining a target audience, is to go through demographic aspects and pin down a group of people. For example, if you sell mascara for a prestige brand, you might want to talk to women of a certain income. However, not all women of a certain income in a certain area will be interested your type of mascara. Maybe your mascara is plastic free and good for the environment? A certain group of women would be interested in this, but not all.
This is where habits and behaviours comes in play. Knowing what type of behaviour or habit your customer has makes it easier to determine if they will be interested in your product or not. A woman that is following eco-warrior Facebook groups might be more interested in the eco-friendly mascara than others. Any maybe that age, gender or income don’t really matter, any eco-conscious person at any age might be interested in your eco-friendly mascara.
How to define your target audience – a step by step guide
Below we are giving a simple step by step guide for how to define your target audience. Do note that you might have several target audiences. It is good to describe them all and choose one main one.
Step 01 – Know what you sell
This might sound weird. However, it is super important. For example, if you sell ironing service as one of our clients The Social Iron (Singapore), not only do they sell the service, but they also free up their customers’ time. In a way, they give the opportunity to make use of that time differently.
Step 02 – Determine who would be interested
Okay, so now you know exactly what you sell, it is time to figure out WHO will be interested in this kind of service. As for ironing service, yes, we are all interested in someone doing the ironing for us. But, are we all willing to pay for it? We want you to try and describe the perfect customer.
A case study
As for The Social Iron we found out that the ideal customer is a working woman. She often has the responsibility of caring for her or her husband’s parents as well as for her own children. For her, it is important to have the school uniforms ironed in time. These women have problems finding enough time in the day. And, they are open to the idea of paying for an ironing service when they know that it can help create jobs in the close community.
I just described, very loosely, a target audience. The agency could, based on the above target audience description, come up with The Social Iron’s branding and tagline: “Live More, Iron Less – An affordable ironing service for neighbours, by neighbours”. This tagline is not specifically targeting women. It speaks to anybody that find ironing a time consuming chore. However, we would not have been able to come up with that if we did not picture that slightly stressed woman who is struggling to be the best mum, daughter and wife she can be.
Maybe you need to be more specific about your target audience? It all depends on the product you are selling. However, try to keep it simple.
Step 03 – Analyse specifics
The next step, is to find out how we can reach out to target audience. Now, we want to understand how and when this target audience is open to receive information regarding your product or service.
First of all, can you find out what digital channels your target audience use? Are they using Facebook? Or LinkedIn? Or maybe, do they read postings on a local community board?
One method is to choose a couple of real persons that you would consider your target audience. Maybe you already know a couple of persons that would just be the “perfect” customers? Try and find more out about these specific persons. What channels are they using? Are they following any groups on Facebook? Do they share or comment on posts on Instagram? What are the Youtube channels they are subscribing to?
Back to our case study
For the case of The Social Iron, the identified target audience is quite active on various digital channels. They visit Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. On LinkedIn, they are not too open to talk about “homely” matters. On the other hand, they actively use Facebook, Instagram and Youtube to get tips and advice. Also, they use Google to search for information.
Step 04 – Plan Your Marketing Efforts
Even though your target audience is using a variety of digital channels, you might not be able to reach out to them on all of these channels. We understand, time and budget are the two things we can never get enough of. Especially if you are a small startup or running a bit of a one man show.
We always recommend to choose one channel at the time, and to do this channel good before you go to the next channel. If you think that you are selling something that people are actually searching for, don’t hesitate on developing a website with a SEO strategy that can help people find what they are looking for. On the other hand, if you are selling something a bit more niche it might be worthwhile to really understand the needs that your
Case study again
For our social ironing service, we found out that the target audience is most receptive on Facebook. In addition, she is also actively searching for ironing services online. These facts led to 2 main marketing actions. The first, to build an SEO optimised website. The second, to build content on their Facebook page. Their facebook also has a chat function where you can post questions and get answers.
After deciding on a channel, you might start building content and find out that nobody is seeing your content. Your will get frustrated and think that this target audience talk is just BS. This is when you should start to think about advertising. Advertising is basically spending money so that people will see your content. Here’s the good part. You already by now have a certain idea of who is your target audience so you are ready to start target your marketing budget. Most digital channels have tools and short courses for how to go about and target your audience. We are listing some of the better known here:
Step 05 – Test, go live, refine
Here comes the last part. So, you have identified your target group, how to reach them, what to say and where to say it. You have determined a budget and you are starting to advertise. We are sorry to say, but it does not stop here. Since the world is constantly changing and we are seeing more and better ways to identify our target audiences, you should not stop here. The trick is to constantly come back to your audience, analyse if it is the right one, maybe tweak and try again.
By now, you know a little bit more about why it is important to define your target audience, how to go about it and how to use your target audience. If you need a little help in defining your target audience, don’t hesitate to book one of our business coaches if you want to explore this topic a little bit further.