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How to Define Your Target Audience


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When starting a small business, there are many initial steps to getting off the ground — financing, location, and the logistics of getting your product or service to your customer. An important first step is to also to determine who are your target audiences. Many business owners define their target audiences in too broad and general terms, such as stay at home moms, men over 40, or teenagers. When your target audience is that broad, you may not get a return on your investment for your marketing dollars.

Why do you need to define target audiences?

As I mentioned above, being too broad or assuming the whole world is your target audience can be dangerous – especially when in startup mode and with limited resources. Defining your target audience – who they are specifically as far as age, gender, locale, education, occupation and income level along with what brands they have an affinity to – will help you maximize conversions when you start advertising or any other digital marketing efforts.

How do you define the target audience for your business?

While there are many strategies to determining the right target audience for your business, here are three strategies to get you on your way:

  1. Conduct Your Market Research

Market research boils down to really knowing your customer. When many business are looking to conduct market research, they perform interviews and focus groups and ask people to complete surveys to gauge who would be interested in their product or service. Most small businesses don’t have the funds to conduct in-depth focus groups and interviews; luckily, free survey builders are available to anyone to use. As a business owner, you can send out surveys to your current customers or post them on social media. If you haven’t yet built up a customer base, look at those offering similar products and services to hone in on who you should be targeting.

When looking at competitors, consider who are they appealing to with their social media posts, ads, or other advertising traffic.? Many advertising platforms like Facebook in particular allow you to target your ads to those who are fans of other businesses – so this data can be extremely helpful when planning digital ads.

2. Study your Product or Service

For each product or service your business provides, describe or list the features of the product. Next, drill-down and list each feature’s benefits and think about who those benefits would find appealing. While these questions’ outcome is still too general to be considered your target audience, it will give you a starting point on the other factors. Factors include:

  • Gender
  • Location
  • Age
  • Education level
  • Income level
  • Occupation
  • Marital or family status
  • Personality
  • Attitudes
  • Values
  • Interest/hobbies

With these factors in mind, ask yourself how your target audience will use the product or service? How will it fit into their lifestyle? Then what media does your target audience use for information? Do they attend specific events, read the newspaper, or strictly search online?

3. More Than One Audience

When you assess all the information you have gathered, you may have a main audience, but you will also have smaller target audience groups. It is essential to define each of these audiences and determine the communication method to reach them best.

For example, you may find that one specific audience is health-conscious, so you may want to sponsor or provide demonstrations at a local run. Another audience group is parents with small children; then, you might place an ad close to a daycare or park. Again, this example is rather general, but it is all about directing your advertising dollars to get the best investment return. When you have your target audience appropriately defined, you are more likely to grow your customer base with each advertising dollar that you spend.

Lolita Carrico
Lolita Carrico
Lolita Carrico is a digital marketing pioneer who has helped businesses of all sizes achieve success.


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