How to Define Your Target Market
When it comes to marketing your business, your ultimate objective is to connect with your target market as much as possible. You need to have as clear a picture as possible of the consumers most likely to purchase your products and services.
That way, you can empathise with their pain points and communicate how your company can address their needs, solve their problems and make their lives easier or better in some way.
However, that’s difficult to achieve when you’re not sure who your target market is in the first place.
Not having a firm understanding of who your target market leads to a lot of lost time, effort, and money trying to reach the wrong people. It also leads to less-than-effective marketing communication because you’re unclear about who you’re speaking to.
However, understanding who your target market is helps the rest of your digital marketing strategy click into place. It allows you to determine the digital platforms to promote your company on, the digital media (search engines, email, social media channels) to market with (blog posts, video, etc.) and, most importantly, the actual content of your marketing messaging – how you’ll persuade people to buy from you.
Because you know who your customers are, you understand them, which allows you to best communicate why they need your products and services.
So, with this goal in mind, this posts explains how to define your target market and how doing so will strengthen your marketing campaigns and make your business more profitable.
What is a target audience?
Your target audience is a particular group of potential customers who are most likely to be interested in your products or services. They’re the people who you want to see your digital marketing campaigns and promotional efforts.
Your target audience depends on the nature of your product or services, which then determine the age, gender, income, location, interests and a variety of other characteristics of the people that will be interested in them. They could be end up being a large group of prospects or a smaller, or niche, group.
Benefits of defining a target audience
The main benefit of defining your target audience is that you can create better marketing campaigns that have a far greater chance of connecting with consumers who have the highest chance of being interested in your products or services.
When you know the kind of person you’re speaking to, you can tailor your brand messageto best capture their attention. Ideally, you want your marketing campaigns to address your target audience’s pain points, and how you’ll solve them, with such precision, that each prospect feels as if you’re specifically speaking to them. Better still, if your audience feels as if you’re directly communicating with them and that your products or services are just what they’re looking for, then they’ll have fewer objections to making a purchase. Overall, their buying journey will be shorter and quicker.
From a bottom-line-perspective, connecting with your target audience increases the return on investment (ROI) on your marketing campaigns. On one hand, tailoring your marketing message and generating more, higher-quality leads increases your revenue. On the other hand, you’ll also cut costs by not wasting money on sub-optimal marketing campaigns that target the wrong audience and don’t address any of their needs.
Difference between a target market and target audience
Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two.
Your target market is all the consumers that could potentially be interested in purchasing your products or services. It is the entire set of consumers that your company could reach with its marketing activities.
A target audience is a particular group, or segment, within a target market. They have a certain set of common characteristics, such as age range, gender, or geographic location, that allows you to group and target them with specific marketing campaigns. In a nutshell, a target audience is part of a target market – and a target market can contain multiple target audiences.
As an example, let’s take a store that sells sporting goods and accessories. In reality, their target market is anyone who plays a sport or does a form of exercise. Their customers could be an 8-year-old boy looking for a pair of footy boots to a 68-year-old woman who wants a yoga mat.
However, within that target market are lots of smaller target audiences. This includes everyone from football and rugby players to runners and cyclists. Depending on the store, this could even extend to more niche sports like horse riding and lacrosse for example. Not to mention, anyone simply looking for a pair of trainers and some shorts to wear at the gym. In this way, each of them is a different target audience that can be appealed to in a different way.
Understanding the different roles of Your Target Audience
As well as there being different multiple target audiences in your target market, there are different roles within each audience: decision-makers and supporters. The decision-maker is the person who ultimately makes the purchase decision. Often, the decision-maker and the supporters are one and the same, but at other times they are different people. Conversely, a supporter is someone who influences purchasing decisions. The best example of supporters are young children: they’ll rarely make a purchase themselves, but, with everything from breakfast cereals and beverages to toys and games, hold massive sway in what their parents purchase for them.
The decision-maker/supporter dynamic is usually simpler if your products and services are business-to-consumer (B2C). If, by contrast, if your company is business-to-business (B2B), then things might be a little more complicated, with several layers of supporters with differing amounts of influence before you reach the decision-maker.
How to identify your target audience
Now that you know why you should define your target market and target audiences within it, the question is, how do you go about defining who they are? There are several ways to do this.
Analyse your products or services
The first way to identify target audiences is to carefully analyse the products and services that your company offers. More specifically, look at the features of your offerings and translate them into benefits.
- What type of people stands to benefit from your products and services?
- What needs do they fulfil and which problems do they solve?
Look at your current client base
Another relatively simple way is to analyse who’s already buying from you.
- What type of people is buying from you already?
- What do they have in common?
Additionally, if you find that a diverse set of people buy from you, you can drill down and determine if different types of customers buy different things. If this is the case, you’ve found distinct target audiences that need to be spoken to in different ways.
Look at your competition
You can also gain a better understanding of your target market by looking at who your competition is marketing to. Choose two or three of your most prominent competitors, perhaps companies that you strive to be more like. Things to focus on include:
- Who are they talking to in their brand messaging? Which of their marketing copy applies to your own products and services?
- As well as their copy, look at their content, such as blog posts. Who are they trying to reach?
- Which social media platforms do they use? Who do they engage with? What kind of consumers, or businesses, follow them?
Demographics are the common characteristics of a group of people. Studying demographics is one of the most common ways to differentiate people from each other and categorise them, so it’s also an effective way to define a target audience. Important demographic categories by which to define prospects include:
- Income level
- Education level
- Marital status
- Number of children
Psychographics are more the personal, psychological characteristics of a person. Where demographics are concerned with the who of a target audience, psychographics looks at their why. They seek to explain the reasons behind their purchases so you can incorporate that into your marketing campaigns and better connect with the audience. Psychographic characteristics include:
- Interests and hobbies
- Opinions, attitudes, and beliefs
Review customer behaviour
Customer behaviour refers to a person’s purchasing habits. This includes their buying frequency, preferences, and any background factors that influence their decision to make a purchase. By studying customer behaviour, you can better understand and connect with your target audience.
Customer behaviour hones in on things like how frequently customers shop, which products or services they tend to prefer, and how they respond to your different marketing campaigns and promotions.
Customer behaviour can be influenced by three types of factors:
- Personal: Their background and upbringing
- Psychological: Attitude, everyday mood, present ‘state of mind’
- Social: Trends, fads, fashion, peer pressure
Creating a customer avatar
Once you’ve studied the demographics, psychographics, and behaviour of your prospects, you can start to put together a collection of customer avatars.
A customer avatar, also known as a buyer persona, is a character that is made up of the same traits as your real customers. The idea of an avatar is to crystallise the key characteristics of your customers so you have a clearer idea of who you’re trying to connect with through your marketing efforts. Your customer avatar is who you imagine you’re talking to when you communicate with your target audience.
However, it’s important to note that you should create an avatar for each target audience. Going back to our sporting goods store, for example, you could create a separate avatar for rugby players, swimmers, cyclists, gym-goers, runners, casual exercisers, and so on and so on. In fact, for ease of reference, especially as you create more of them, you could give each avatar a name. For instance, women’s fashion brand Liz Claiborne calls their customer avatar ‘Liz Lady’, and all market campaigns, as well as product development, is done with Liz Lady firmly in mind.
Many business owners make the mistake of expecting their customer avatars to be perfect straight away but it takes time to refine them. As you carry out marketing campaigns, attract more customers, and analyse their purchases, you’ll learn more about your target market and each target audience. So, instead of getting bogged down in getting your customer avatars right the first time, start with what you know and update them as you go.
The four types of market segmentation
Mass marketing (undifferentiated marketing)
A mass, or undifferentiated, marketing is a strategy for reaching as many consumers as possible. There isn’t any segmentation within your target market to connect with specific target audiences. It’s employed when a brand has universal appeal, such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and similar food and beverage brands.
Segmented marketing (differentiated marketing)
In contrast to mass marketing, a segmented, or differentiated, marketing strategy see a company run different campaigns for each of its target audiences. Remember, that each target audience is a segment of the overall target market – hence being known as segmented marketing.
For an example of segmented marketing let’s take a look at a gym that, despite having a pretty broad target market, can differentiate between a number of target audiences. For instance, a gym chain might concentrate on the benefits of losing weight for its female audience, the benefits of building muscle for its male audience, and overall health benefits for its older clientele.
Concentrated marketing (niche marketing)
Concentrated, or niche, marketing is a strategy that hones in on very specific and well-defined target audiences. Concentrated marketing is a bit of a double-edged sword because while focusing your efforts on a smaller group of consumers can be risky, you can forge a strong connection with them if you speak to their needs and problems well enough.
Micromarketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on an even narrower strategy than concentrated marketing. In fact, micromarketing can be used to target a niche audience within a niche audience. Two examples of micromarketing are a local marketing and individual marketing. Local marketing focuses on the target audience for specific products or services in a particular geographic location. An example of this would be a company with a regional or national scope running a marketing campaign for potential customers in a specific town. Individual marketing, meanwhile, caters to the needs of a specific person. For an example of individual marketing, look no further than Amazon and its algorithm that offers recommendations based on what you bought – and even what you searched for.
Like concentrated marketing, if a company is successful in matching its products or services to the right target audience, it can generate significant profits. On the other hand, micromarketing requires a company to know their customers intimately and to create detailed customer avatars, so it can be very time-consuming. targeting a very specific group of customers, you need to know them on an intimate level. That being said, many businesses employ micromarketing to test new products and services.
Defining your target market and being able to segment it into different target audiences is the best way to optimise your marketing efforts and ensure your products and services are seen by as many of the right consumers as possible. Taking the time to understand your target market allows you to focus your time, energy, and marketing budget in the proper direction. You can achieve this by:
- Carefully analysing your products and services and who’s currently buying them
- Observing your competition and who their marketing campaigns are aimed at
- Determining your customers’ demographics, psychographics and behaviour
- Creating a customer avatar
As a growing company, it’s crucial to remember that your brand isn’t just a logo and a tagline, it’s the connection your customers have with your products and services. So, the better you can define your target market, the better your ability to communicate with your ideal customer, and the stronger your brand will be.
Need a hand creating your customer avatar? Download our easy-to-use checklist to complete your avatar in a few easy steps.