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Start-Ups

Tips on Determining Your Target Audience

By Townes Haas   |    December 17, 2014   |    3:42 PM

How to Figure Out What Target Audience’s Wants and Needs

Targeting too broadly is a mistake that most small businesses make in the beginning. The fear is that they may miss someone interested in their services by narrowing their focus. The problem with not clearly defining specific audiences is this: Without targeting, businesses can waste a lot of marketing dollars, especially within the online space. Trying to attract everyone who might be potentially interested in the product or service can make a business quickly blow through the budget.

One of the main issues as to why businesses don’t define a target audience is frankly that they simply don’t know how. Here are some tips to determine who the target of your advertising campaigns is, what they’re interested in and how to access them.

1. Develop a Clear Business Plan: The first step starts with putting together a comprehensive business plan. A business plan will help business owners hone in on the types of products that they want to sell, who would benefit from these products and differentiators from competitors. Also, determine major selling points and feature benefits

2. Research Competitors: No matter how unique a business is, there are still bound to be some competitors in the space. Figure out what type of customers are buying from competitors, including age-range, income, professions, location, etc. Most businesses have two options here: Either directly compete with the competitor for the same business or find a niche market that the competitor is not actively pursuing.

3. Look at Current Clients: If a business is established, it should have some current customers. What does the customer base look like? What are the demographics? What are the most popular products? Based on this information, try inferring what other types of people may also be interested in the product.

4. Do Research: Research should be both primary and secondary. Conduct focus groups, surveys and interviews to determine potential audience wants, needs and pain points. Your social media channels provide an excellent opportunity to conduct consumer surveys. Look at studies that other companies have done in the same space. The latter will cut down on the cost of primary research, but still provide valuable information.

5. Create a Customer Profile: This profile should include demographic information like:

a. Age

b. Gender

c. Income

d. Location

e. Occupation

f. Ethnic background

g. Education level

And psychographic information like:

a. Personality

b. Interests

c. Hobbies

d. Lifestyle

e. Behavioral information

f. Attitude

g. Values

h. Media consumption

Once you’ve narrowed down your profile, determine how the product or service being offered best fits the target audience values and lifestyle. What will directly appeal to them? What won’t they like? Where do they get their information from: TV, radio, social media, newspaper, etc? How will they use the product or service?

6. Find the Audience: The customer profile research will help businesses to determine where the audience spends most of their research time, whether that’s events, social media, email, certain websites, apps, etc. Use this information to determine how the audience uses technology, and what technology and messages best meet their preferences.

7. Test and Keep Testing: Once messaging is built and being sent out, it’s time to monitor the analytics to determine if the target audience is responding. Over time, the target audience may change, and messaging will also need to evolve. Keep track of sales, website data, interactions and customer inquiries to determine what is and is not working. Never stop improving marketing efforts, especially as the business grows and trends change.