Aim and Fire! How to Identify Your Target Audience

By Usman Raza,
business.com writer
|
Jun 26, 2020
Image Credit: pondsaksit / Getty Images

You can't effectively market your products until you know who is likely to need them. Take these steps to pinpoint your ideal clients.

Entrepreneurs and new business owners often make a mistake: They fail to identify the people willing to purchase their products. When asked about their target audience, they will say it's "anyone who can use automation tools" or something similarly vague.

The truth is that all businesses have an ideal client. You need to know the specific type of company or individual most likely to buy from you. Successful businesses identify their target audience before they begin to sell a product.

Follow these steps to figure out who your ideal client is. 

1. List the attributes of your most likely users.

You know what your product does. List the attributes of the people who are most likely to benefit from what your product does. For example, if you offer a beauty product, you know that women are more likely than men to buy it. You could narrow the focus even more by figuring out attributes of the women who would want your beauty product. Brainstorm as many attributes as possible. Then, you can pinpoint the specific customer traits that fit with the benefits of your product. 

2. Ask questions. 

When you are trying to identify your audience, ask yourself questions. Start with the obvious and get more detailed from there. These are some possible considerations:

  • What gender is most likely to buy my product?
  • How old are they?
  • Are they married?
  • Do they have children? How old are the children?
  • What nationality, race or ethnicity are they? 

For every answer, new questions should occur to you until you have a good idea of who is buying your product.  

3. Know the problem your product solves.

If you don't know what problem you are solving, you can't identify your target audience. For example, if you sell a water filtration system, you are removing toxins from tap water; therefore, you want to appeal to homeowners who are environmentally aware and conscious of what they put into their bodies. When you know what problem your product or service solves, you can market it more effectively to the right audience. 

4. Listen to feedback.

Ask your customers what they think your product does. Ask them why they bought the product. This will give you valuable information that you can use when you go to the next customers. You can change your marketing to incorporate their information. These insights also might change what you thought was your target customer. 

5. Check social media.

Internet tools can help you pinpoint your target audience. Social media sites have analytics to show you who is interacting with your brand's accounts and what posts they find interesting. This will help you understand the people who are paying attention to your company and your products so you can identify your niche. These social media tools also show you what posts were most effective in getting a reaction. 

6. Automate your actions.

After checking your social media analytics, you could go one step further and use social media automation. For example, some tools allow you to automate lead generation from your LinkedIn account, directing you to the people on that platform who might want to purchase your product. You could do the same thing with Facebook and Google My Business. Also, when you use automation tools, you can integrate that target audience data into your customer relationship management (CRM) software

7. Look at your competitors.

Business owners who fail to check up on their competitors rarely stay in business. You have to know who is buying from your competitors, why they are buying from your competitors, and what you do that is different from your competitors. It might be that your competitors sell mostly to men and you sell mostly to women. It also might be that your target audience is similar to your competitors' but you offer different solutions to the same problem, which would appeal to other customers. Knowing what your competitors are doing will help you focus your product and determine your ideal client. 

8. Know your value.

Before you can start selling to your target customers, you have to know why they are going to buy it. You have to be sure of the value of the product and convey that information to your ideal client. When you know the value of your product, you can figure out who is likely to accept that value and want it. This will determine your audience. For example, if you sell expensive jewelry, you are more likely to appeal to people who have disposable income than to low-income people. 

9. Create a statement.

To ensure you are sending the right branding message, create a statement that shows you know your target audience. For example, if you sell that beauty product, your positioning statement might be, "To the baby boomer women who are trying to protect their skin and what they put into their bodies, XYZ Beauty is offering a skin care treatment that takes as little as two minutes to apply." From that statement, it is obvious the target audience are people born after World War II, who care about their health and skin, and who are on the go with little time to spare. 

10. Test your theory.

After you have gone through all these steps, you need to make sure you have the right target audience. Create a sample ad and market it to those you've specified as being in your target customer group. On social media, you can create an ad that specifically appeals to your target audience and see how many of them click through to your website. With print ads, you won't have a click-through option, but you could still have a CTA (call to action) number set that is different from your current number so you know they are coming from your ad. This will tell you whether you are correct in your theory of who your target audience is. Depending on your industry, you could also try a direct mail campaign

11. Begin marketing.

When you prove your theory correct, you can begin marketing in full force to that target audience. You will be more effective when you're not casting such a wide net; instead, you'll be staying in one location where you know the fish are. You can still go broad in your marketing to that area, using all the tools you wish to appeal to your target audience. 

With these steps, you are likely to find your target audience and be a successful business owner instead of stumbling along in the dark with the occasional customer. You'll be able to answer the question of who your target market is more succinctly. You will know how to market to them and what tools to use. Business owners who know their target market also save money in the long run, because they don't waste advertising dollars on groups who aren't interested.

Usman Raza is the co-founder of Christian Marketing Experts and marketing strategist working with various brands online. Usman is the content marketing manager at SeedX Inc. He's devoted to helping small businesses bridge success gaps by providing in-depth, actionable advice on digital marketing, SEO, and small business growth. Follow him on Twitter @usmanintrotech.
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