Before you can effectively market your product or service and grow your business, there’s a lot of groundwork you need to do. You’ll need to be sure the product itself is all ready to go and your customer service is impeccable, but you also need to know your audience forwards and backwards. Who do you want to become your customers? If you want to launch a truly successful digital marketing strategy, the answer can’t be “everyone.” Here is some more information together with some steps you can take to identify your target audience so you can create focused marketing campaigns that convert.

What Is Your Target Audience?

A target audience refers to a specific group of people or individuals whom a product, service, message or marketing campaign is designed to reach and appeal to. These people share common characteristics, behaviours, interests, and preferences that make them a suitable audience for a particular product, service, or message.

Defining a target audience is essential in any business or communication strategy, as it helps to focus efforts and resources on the people who are most likely to be interested in what you have to offer. The target audience may be defined by factors such as age, gender, income, education, geographic location, lifestyle, interests, and more.

For example, a children’s toy company may define their target audience as parents with young children, while a luxury car manufacturer may target high-income individuals who value exclusivity and status. Understanding your target audience can help you create more effective marketing messages and develop products or services that are tailored to their needs and preferences.

Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition

To determine who your ideal customers are, you first need to know exactly what kind of value your business brings. What is your unique selling proposition (USP)? Also, what solution do you offer that customers can’t get elsewhere? What sets you apart? For example, the wood, wall and tile company, E & S Tiles, has an innovative system for implementing wood and tiles which has revolutionized how the company constructs their walls.

Identifying your USP is essential for maintaining focus and making decisions throughout every stage of your company’s growth. Trying to do too many things at once makes your business unfocused and forgettable—and it will be difficult to identify your target audience without a USP.

Assess the Competition

This step often happens simultaneously with identifying your USP. That’s because assessing your competition is a great way to see what others are doing well—and also where the gaps are. What can you offer your customers that your competition doesn’t? What can you learn from their success and their marketing approaches? Do they appear to have a target audience? Check their website, social media, and any other data you can find—it’s all useful.

Use Your Data to define your target Audience

Even if you haven’t been formally collecting data (though you should be—big data is a business essential), you should have enough actual customer information from early sales to know who is the most interested in your products. Don’t make assumptions about which demographics are your best customers; use the data you have to determine where your marketing efforts will be most effective. 

Create Profiles

Once you have a good idea of who you can serve with your product or service, it’s time to solidify those ideas. Create a few profiles of your ideal customers. Make them as detailed as you can—age, gender, marital and economic status, etc. Are they a parent? What are their priorities? Their problems? For example, a stay-at-home mother worried about her child’s safety will have very different priorities than a young woman just starting her career—and they’ll also have different income levels. It’s much easier to create a marketing strategy when you have a specific person in mind—that will help you develop a company voice and speak directly to your audience.

Check for Viability

Once you’ve created some ideal customer profiles and narrowed down your target audience, it’s time to ask yourself some more questions. Is your audience too broad? Too narrow? Will there be the potential for long-term growth by targeting this audience? To resonate with your audience, your product or service must benefit them, be at the right price point for their needs, and come along at the right time. That’s a tall order, but when you’ve done your homework, your company should check off all those boxes.

Trial and Error

By using these steps, you can usually identify your target market with good accuracy. However, it’s important to realize that if something isn’t resonating with your audience (or if you find out you had the wrong audience all along), don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board. A certain amount of trial and error may be necessary to get the results you want. That’s not to say you should take risks without considering the data carefully—it’s just important to realize that even the best plans sometimes need tweaking when it comes to finding the right audience for your business.

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Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.