Defining your target audiences is foundational for developing effective marketing strategies. They influence every aspect of your marketing efforts, from the way your products and services are developed and named to the channels and tactics you use to promote them. It's why we always counsel our clients to start every initiative, no matter how big or small, by identifying who they're trying to reach and why.
When your target audience is ill-defined, your marketing efforts are far less likely to get you the results you're looking for, no matter how creative, clever, or captivating they may be.
The bottom line: building an effective brand hinges on your ability to define an accurate target audience. If you’re not sure how to do that you’re in the right place.
Where to Start Defining a Target Audience
Identifying your target audience starts with understanding their pain points and how your brand and offerings are relevant to them. Regardless of the product, offering, or industry, documenting your target audience information generally involves conducting research into your current customers and their habits, understanding your competition (what they're saying and where they're saying it), and narrowing your focus (it is a "target" audience after all).
Conduct Customer Research
A great way to figure out what motivates new customers to seek you out is to take a close look at the customers who are already using your products and services. Where is your existing customer base engaging with your brand? What are they the most interested in? What are they still looking for? Understanding the needs and characteristics of your current audience will give you a solid starting point in defining what your target audience looks like.
Evaluate the Competition
We generally don't recommend doing the same thing that the competition is doing -- your brand is unique, and should be true to its personality. But, understanding which demographics your competitors are going after, how they’re positioning themselves, and how your desired audiences may be engaging with them can reveal opportunities to differentiate your brand or play up aspects of your offerings that might otherwise be overlooked. A competitive analysis can help you see your target audience in a new light, and give you valuable insights on how to position your brand to reach them.
Be Intentionally (and Strategically) Exclusive
Casting a wide net with your marketing can be an effective strategy for reaching a lot of people. But, narrowing your focus and casting that net in a smaller pool is more likely to help your brand reach the right people. For many B2B marketers, the smaller pool approach is a highly effective strategy. Honing in on relevant, specific demographics, titles, needs, locations, or whatever criteria make sense for your brand, makes it easier for the right people to find you. Strategically narrowing your focus won’t stop people outside of your target audience from buying from you; It will show people within your target audience that your company deeply understands their needs and is able to serve them throughout their buyer's journey.
Reaching Your Target Audience
Once you've identified who you're trying to reach, you should document how you'll reach them. It's very likely that much of this information has come up while you were researching who your audience is, but it doesn't hurt to spend a little extra time bulletproofing your approach.
Some avenues for reaching your audience may feel tried and true, but it's worth stopping to consider if they're truly right for your brand and your audience. Are you active on Instagram because your audience is there, or because someone in your company decided you "should" be there? What trends might be influencing where your audience looks for information? Have there been any changes affecting your prospects' industry and what they need from companies like yours? The more you know about their habits and needs, the more effective your targeting will be.
Like most things in marketing, your target audiences and the strategies you create to reach them will inevitably grow and evolve over time. If you are able to adapt and grow as they do you'll be well-positioned to continue serving their needs along with your company's goals.
Need help identifying your target audience? Connect with CID's Marketing & Strategy team.