There are many elements of branding that are crucial to the success of a business, however, arguably the most crucial is determining your target audience and using it to your advantage. Many businesses focus first on the visual identity of their brand, but overlook the basic foundational pillar of branding: understanding their target audience. Without a clear understanding of who your audience is, you may be falling short (or completely missing the mark) when it comes to your tone, messaging, marketing and more. Before you can really craft an effective message and deliver it, you need to define and understand your target audience, and market to them where they already spend their time. 

In this post, we will discuss how to define your target audience, why it is important and what to do with the information you discover.

What is a Target Audience?

Your target audience is the entire reason your brand exists and your business should be built around serving them first and foremost. Putting your focus on your customer allows you to create a brand that naturally serves them — creating solutions to their actual problems. While your instinct may be to want your audience to be everyone, this approach will not serve you well.

A target audience is the specific group (audience) that you want to or intend to reach through your messaging. Your target market is usually connected by common characteristics:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Income
  • Education
  • Marital Status
  • Ethnicity

However, your target audience goes deeper than this and focuses on your market characteristics, plus:

  • Habits
  • Interests
  • Personality
  • Belief Systems/Values
  • Lifestyle

Why Do I Need To Understand My Target Audience?

Marketing, be it content marketing or print advertising, takes a lot of time. You want that time to be spent speaking to your actual audience — those who share your brand values, connect with your content and buy your product or service because of your content. Knowing and understanding your audience will help you create content that speaks to the right people. 

  1. When your content is not created with your audience in mind, the conversion rate on that content decreases. Your ideal customer connects with your content, purchases your product and/or service, therefore increasing your ROI.
  2. Understanding your audience allows you to address their specific needs, establishing you as a leader in your industry. When you present your product/service as a solution to your customers struggles, you are seen as a trusted source.
  3. Brand loyalty is built around connecting your brand values with your customers, through the correct marketing channels. Brand loyalty means your customers continuing choosing you, even when presented with a cheaper option. Understanding their beliefs, how they consume media, how they make decisions and why, will help you reach them where they actually are and connect with them in a way that promotes loyalty.

How Do I Determine My Target Audience

Determining who your target audience is takes some strategic planning and research. Who you are intending to reach (or think you are reaching), may not be your actual audience, so it is important to be open to adapting your brand to better serve your customer.

1. Get Clear On Your Offerings

To understand your customer, you need to first understand what you are offering them. Ask yourself the following questions and be truthful about the true impact of your product or service and be open to adjusting accordingly:

    • How does my product or service impact my customers’ lives?
    • What benefits do my customers receive from my product or service?
    • What problems do my customers have and how does my product or service help address those problems?
    • What goals do my customers have that my product or service helps them achieve?
    • Is the market for my product or service large enough to scale?

    2. Get Clear On Your Current Customers

    Figuring out who is currently purchasing your products or services can go a long way in building an ideal customer persona. This persona will allow you to create content directed specifically towards your base. You can gather data on your customers during the checkout process, by sending out a survey to your email list, and analyzing your Google Analytics and social media statistics. Once you have gathered enough data, you will start to notice trends that you can start leveraging in your marketing efforts. Some data points to consider are:

      • Age, Gender, Location, Language
      • Spending Habits
      • How They Navigate Your Website
      • Interests and Lifestyle
      • Where do they get their information?
      • What drives them to make a purchase?

      3. Get Clear On Your Competition

      Review and analyze how your competitors are using their own messaging and how they are positioning themselves. Look at their social media, website and other advertising to see who they are targeting. Then, ask yourself:

        • Does this differ from who you are targeting?
        • Have they found a market segment you have not considered?
        • What is the tone of their messaging and branding?
        • How are their customers interacting with them?
        • Do they have a high engagement rate and why?

        How Do I Use This Information?

        Once you have researched your target audience and have a clear understanding of who they are and where they are, you can put that information to good use.

        1. Create a persona

        One important step is to create a persona, so you and your team always have a reference point when creating any new content. A persona is an individual-specific description of your ideal target audience. This persona will show you pain points for your customers, reveal their interests and allow you to create content that interests and excites them. It can include details such as:

          • Age
          • Gender
          • Occupation
          • Income
          • Education
          • Marital Status
          • Ethnicity
          • Interests
          • Personality
          • Lifestyle 

          For example, if your business is digital marketing, a persona might be: Frank, 62, Founder and President of an accounting firm in Minnesota. Married with 3 adult children. Household income: around $250,000/year. Lives in the suburbs. Has a bachelor degree from the University of WI. Frank enjoys reading the Wall Street Journal, bowling and spending time with his family. He struggles to stay up-to-date with technology and fears becoming irrelevant in the face of new technology.

          2. Test your marketing

          A great and inexpensive way to test how accurate your target audience is, and make adjustments to it, is through social media advertising. Using your newly defined customer, create a targeted ad campaign and learn from it. The beauty of social media is you can test creative, without a big price tag, and alter it until you reach the maximum effect. Remember, you want to speak to your audience where they are and this may change over time. Use your analytics and adjust your creative to ensure your marketing efforts are connecting with your audience and working for your brand, not against it.

          Final Thoughts

          Your target audience is really the foundation of your business and, as we have discussed in this post, understanding what drives them can really help your business and brand succeed. Leveraging your audience will help you build loyalty and trust, while also increasing conversions and ROI. Do you know and understand your audience? 

          Courtney Gran, Grace Built Co.

          Grace Built Co. is a creative branding & web design studio focused on creating simple elegant identities and websites for small businesses. Based in Brainerd Lakes, Minnesota, we serve local and national clients. Our purpose-built design will help tell your story in a way that connects with your audience and elevates your brand.

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