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What Is the Definition of Target Audience? An Introduction

An important part of creating impactful marketing and branding is to understand your audience. Although it’s important to appeal to people of many backgrounds, understanding who is most likely to buy your product can help you create a more tailored experience for this population. To do this, you need to understand what is a target audience. Then, you can learn how to appeal to a specific segment of ideal, interested buyers by finding out who they are and what they need.

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Target audience definition

The definition for a target audience is the demographic of consumers who are most likely to buy or be interested in your products or services. This is the group of people your company should direct specific advertisements or messages to. When identifying your target audience, you should examine a range of angles and distinctive characteristics in people. For example, consider the following demographics as a starting point:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Martial status
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Hobbies
  • Personal fears and desires

These are just broad and mostly generic audience variations that you can start with. Inside each group or across multiple broader categories, you can and should look for specific and sometimes very unique combinations of audience factors. Finding these will let you define the ideal blend of personal or professional characteristics and human interests that you can use for your target audience marketing.

For example, inside a single broad category like hobbies, you might want to see if your product fits inside one or more specific subcategories, such as:

  • Sports
  • Fitness
  • Outdoor hobbies
  • Scientific hobbies
  • Personal computing
  • Amateur photography
  • Gaming

The possible subcategories can be extremely varied and might tie into other broad categories based on income level, gender, location, occupation and other characteristics.

Related: How to Grow Your Business

How defining a target audience works

Your best technique for defining your target audience starts with your product itself. You should carefully consider what needs and benefits it might fulfill and also what pain point it solves. Once you know this, brainstorm who might have these needs and pain points in their life. This will be a possible target audience. There might even be more than one type of demographic or personal and professional interest category that you can cater to with the same products and services.

Now, here’s a tricky part: Sometimes, your target audience doesn’t know that its pain point or need can be solved by something you’re offering. You may be sure that it’s an ideal solution, but you have to convince them too. That’s why knowing your audience’s specific traits and needs is so important. It helps you craft the appeal you need to meet their needs and deliver personal benefits. This applies to niche products especially.

If you sell something very generic, it’s still possible to create a specific target audience in marketing to related interests and perceptions. This is how target audiences can be harnessed with perceived appeal. Branding plays to this all the time. It’s what lets you sell something very general like shoes while honing the presentation of your product so that it takes off among a more strictly defined subset of customers in a less competitive market.

The importance of identifying a target audience for marketing

Knowing your target audience is extremely important for effective marketing. The way you reach different audiences changes based on their behaviors and preferences, so you should be ready to redefine your marketing and unique value proposition as needed.

For instance, if you’re trying to target a young audience, you’re more likely to reach them via social media rather than a print advertisement in the newspaper. This is just a very basic differentiation. Among specific audiences, such as young people, you also need to look for the specific traits that play to your product. If you’re selling in a particularly unique niche, these can become highly specific, and there’s no perfect road map for defining them.

For example, you may use different images when trying to reach a family versus a young professional. If you’re targeting families, you may create an advertisement that shows other families using your products or services. For the young professional, you may show a young person in their apartment benefiting from your offerings.

Even your tone can change based on your target audience. If you’re a travel company, an advertisement directed at retired people may have a more relaxed tone while an advertisement for young people may focus more on adventure and exploration.

Tips for identifying your target audience

You can find your target audience with many different techniques. Here are a few essential suggestions:

  • Talk to strangers: Rather than consulting family and friends, try to reach out to new people to have an unbiased look at the market.
  • Revisit your research: You may find that your target audience’s attitudes or behaviors change over time. It’s useful to continue to learn what appeals to them.
  • Be nuanced: Instead of relying on stereotypes, take time to learn what actually appeals to your audience. Find ways to authentically represent these requirements.
  • Use surveys, questionnaires and content marketing: If you really want to find out what pain points, interests and needs people have, it’s important to communicate with them directly.

When you start promoting your product, use this information to back your marketing up with digital content that talks about unique situations and problems that somehow relate to your product and its niche. Promote this content up on social media and your own blogging platform. The comment feedback you generate can give you a tremendous advantage for targeting. You can also ask the followers you generate to complete surveys or questionnaires about what interests them.

Related: 10 Steps to Starting a Business

Definition of target audience FAQs

How do you determine your target audience?

One way to determine your target audience is through market research. For instance, surveys are a useful strategy to get customers to provide their demographic information. You could also use the following strategies to gather information:

  • Focus groups: Have a group discussion with people who represent your ideal customer.
  • Face-to-face interviews: Talk to individuals to learn more about their buying habits and what types of marketing influence them.
  • Competitor analysis: Learn what kind of people are interested in your direct competitors.

What’s an example of a target audience?

To understand this concept, say you own a dog toy company. You could do one advertisement to appeal to young dog owners and then do another advertisement to appeal to dog owners with families. The copy, imaging and overall design you use can vary between these two target audiences.

What’s the difference between a target audience and target marketing?

Target marketing and target audience are directly related terms. The key difference is that target marketing is when you decide which segment of consumers you want to target with your marketing, products and services. Your target audience is the specific group of customers you want to reach with your advertisements. This means that your business has a target market and your target audience is part of that group.

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