Public Relations

How To Identify Your Target Audience

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9 Steps to Identifying Your Target Audience

It’s a well known fact that you can’t please everyone – nor should you try to. It’s for this reason that one of the first orders of business for companies and their marketing departments is to identify a target audience. Casting a broad net without any specific people in mind won’t reel in as many customers, and it certainly won’t make them loyal. It’s important to curate messaging for a specific audience in order for your message to resonate and make a lasting impression. Below we’ll give you all the information you need to identify the audience that your company will be targeting and ensure that you can get started right away.

What is a Target Audience?

A target audience is the specific segment of consumers and businesses that have the greatest likelihood of resonating with your products or solutions. These are the people that your company will want to direct all of your marketing and publicity materials towards from the email advertisements sent out to the media you place your stories in. 

Depending on the company or brand a target audience can be determined by gender, age, race, location, interests, or a variety of other factors. It can also be  incredibly small and niche or it can be a bit broader. For example, a company like Nike will target athletes but their target audience will be a bit broader since they have products that cater to all genders, ages, and activity levels. On the other hand a company like La Roche Posay, specifically targets consumers with acne-prone, sensitive skin – who care enough to want a product to help. This is a much smaller segment of people to reach than Nike’s overarching audience.

How to Identify Your Target Audience?

Now you know what a target audience is but the question remains – how do you identify the best target audience for your company. I’ve outlined below the 9 steps to take to ensure that your business is reaching the right people and/or companies for your brand.

Step 1: Define Your Purpose

The first step to identifying a target audience is figuring out the purpose of your product or service and what benefits it provides. In other words – what problem does it solve and for who? 

For example, a company selling a digital workplace platform would evaluate their technology and outline what specific problems their particular platform solves for employees – and what industry has employees that would most benefit. If the workplace platform finds that most of their capabilities lend itself to project management and productivity then they will target employee groups who tend to have constant projects. This could be sales teams or marketing teams. 

On the consumer side, a makeup company might find that the purpose of their line is the largest variety of blush shades, or the problem they may solve is providing a foundation that won’t break out consumers with sensitive skin types. 

Either way, it’s essential to define your product or solution’s purpose, both as a way to know what audiences will identify with your product and to stand out in your crowded industry to those audiences.

Step 2: Look Inward

Once you’ve solidified your purpose, examine your existing customer base if you have one. You know who you think you’re solving a problem for, but paying attention and knowing who your current users are may reveal some new insights.

Make sure to note the common traits and characteristics your customer base shares. This is essential to determining what kind of messaging will resonate with them. 

Going back to the skin-care example- you may have known after determining your purpose that your target audience was consumers with sensitive skin. But by examining your customer base you may determine that while this is true, your users are even more segmented than you thought, with the majority being female in their early to late twenties.

Knowing this allows you to become even more targeted with your messaging and understand your customer base on a whole new level.

Step 3: Spy on Competition

No matter how niche your company or brand is, the reality is you will always have competition. While this may seem like a negative, having companies to go up against can sometimes provide benefits.

Your competitors, just like you, are trying to reach a certain market. Analyze them. Determine who they are targeting, whether it be through social media posts or Google ads, and hone in on the gaps that they may not be hitting.

Knowing what your competition is offering and highlighting to consumers is a great way to realize what elements of your own business that are different and will stand out amidst the crowd. It goes back to the problem your product or solution solves. What problem are you solving that your competitor is not? Emphasize that solution to consumers.

Articulating your differentiator can be done through marketing and advertising paid efforts, but can also be highlighted through earned articles and media placements. The best way to stand out is to have a verified source tell your audience about how you’re different (and better) than your competition.

Step 4: Social Media Scouting

Beyond social media advertisements, platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, TikTok, and more are a great place to reach and learn more about your target audience.

In today’s digital age there are groups, discussions, and communities on almost every social platform for almost every interest. From Facebook groups for renters apartment hunting in Chicago to Instagram accounts dedicated to the best restaurants on NYC’s Upper East Side, social media can reveal a lot of information about audiences you want to reach.

Find out where your potential audience hangs out online, and identify what communities align with your product and content. Then, monitor those groups and platforms to learn more about what sparks your users interest. This will give you an even better idea of what grabs their attention and help you connect with them on a deeper level.

How to Identify Your Target Audience

Step 5: Conduct Surveys and Interviews

While evaluating your customer base from afar is a great first step to understanding who they are, the best way to truly understand users is to directly ask them about themselves.

Through surveys and interviews you can ask both current customers and your potential audience what their preferences, challenges, and interests are. By going straight to the source you can gather valuable insights that will help shape your understanding of your target audience even further.

For example, a health-focused dog food brand may think they know exactly who their consumer is – dog owners who have overweight pets. But, by actually speaking with customers you may realize the dog-owners who you thought had overweight pets are actually just health and fitness oriented people who want their dogs to also lead a healthy lifestyle. These insights would allow you to expand your target audience.

Step 6: Utilize Analytics

Another way to gather insights apart from getting feedback directly from users is to leverage analytics tools for your website and social media. These tools in addition to providing analytics on click rates and browse times, can also provide demographic information about your current audience.

Analytics tools can also identify trends. For example, by studying patterns in user data you can determine what items users usually look at but dont put into the cart, or items that make it to the cart but never to checkout.

You can also determine if certain demographics gravitate towards certain products – and then market similar products to them.

Step 7: Refine Your Target

You’ve done all the work. You’ve identified your purpose, you’ve done a competitive analysis, you’ve studied user trends on your website and social media, and you’ve even had direct conversations with consumers. With all of this information you have successfully identified who your target audience should be. Now it’s time to use that information.

Based on everything you know, refine and narrow down your target audience as necessary. Take into account everything you’ve learned about the demographics, interests, and behaviors that make up your particular target segment. 

For example, a company may have previously marketed themselves as an overarching digital transformation company and tried to reach every industry trying to make a transition to the cloud (so… all of them). After doing their research, they took everything into account and narrowed their target audience down to the financial and manufacturing industries. They also would determine what roles within financial and manufacturing companies were the technology decision makers they would want to get in front of.

Step 8: Test the Waters

Once you’ve refined your audience, you should test to see how well your theories work in actuality. Create targeted content or ads and monitor their performance among your user-base and potential customers. 

You can use some of the analytics we mentioned above on social media and on your website to track how well these targeted efforts resonate with your identified target audience. If the messaging isn’t hitting home or having the desired effect then you can adjust your approach based on the results. 

It’s not always going to be perfect on the first try, that’s why it’s essential to test the waters and use that sample set to make your program as strong as possible.

Step 9: Stay Adaptive 

Even if you have perfectly chosen the right segment of consumers or businesses for your target audience and have mastered the messaging to hook them in, it’s important to stay vigilant and keep an eye out for any changes.

Audiences and trends are constantly evolving and your understanding of them should evolve with it. Make sure to stay informed about what’s happening in your industry, continuously monitor audience feedback, and be prepared to adjust your audience and tactics as needed.

While change after all the above work may seem scary, it’s actually a good thing. It may mean that your target audience is growing or you need to change because you have a better understanding of your customers. You’ve laid the groundwork now you just need to continuously stay up to date.

Our Approach at CVM

At Channel V Media we work closely with our clients to help them identify where their target audience resides and what the best way to reach them is.

All companies want to be in national news publications like the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. But while appearing in stories in these publications is certainly a win, it isn’t necessarily where the target audience that companies want to reach are reading.

It’s more important than it may seem to target trade publications within companies’ respective industries in order to get company news and executives expert insights in front of the target audience’s decision makers. Especially for technology companies, prospects are usually reading industry trades to learn more and gain trade secrets from other companies – making it the perfect place to spread awareness of your company.

This can look different from industry to industry, for a retail technology company trying to land more furniture brand clients it’s important to appear in trades like Furniture Today and Furniture World. Or for a weather-technology company whose current target audience is utility companies and the energy industry, they will want to get infront of power executives in publications such as Utility Dive or POWER Magazine.

While national publications and broadcast appearances are also important and a great way to establish your company as a leader, it’s trade coverage that will do the best job of highlighting to your target audience your differentiators and what makes you the best option among other competitors in your field.

The approach differs from company to company and from target audience to target audience. It can seem complex, but we help simplify and place companies’ business stories in the publications best suited to reach their desired prospects.

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