Imagine for a moment that you are in charge of marketing your company’s latest product. You have to create an audience, and then figure out how to reach them. The group of people you are marketing is called a target market, or target audience. The better you are at crafting a particular message for a specific group, the more successful you will be at conversion.
What is a Target Audience?
In marketing terms, a ‘target audience’ or ‘target market’ refers specifically to a single set of consumers within a larger group of potential customers. This smaller group of individuals usually share similar interests and needs.
The aim in defining a target audience for a product or service is simple: get the attention of more potential customers, while spending less money in the process. By creating a target audience, you are more likely to reach your ideal customer.
How to Choose Your Target Market
1. Review Business Goals – Before choosing your target market, you need to review your business goals and ensure they match the needs of an ideal customer. Once you’ve identified this group of people who share common needs then you can begin to zero in on possible markets or create a product that meets their requirements.
For example, if your goal is to establish a company blog, then your focus should be on advertising bloggers (people like me!).
2. Examine Your Current Customers – When you’re starting out with little cash flow, it’s good practice to get advice from current customers instead of trying to think up new ideas yourself. If someone has already purchased items from you, then they’ve given some indication that they’re a good fit as your target market.
Remember: this doesn’t mean limiting yourself to the actual customer base you have now! It’s possible to expand from those who are already buying from you into new and related markets with products and services of interest to them.
3. Identify Who Has Purchased Similar Products – Look at similar products on the market and determine who has purchased them. Examine these customers’ demographics and interests so you know where to look for more people like them.
4. Review Competitor Demographics – Consider how competitors define their target audiences and examine if their customer groups seem appropriate for your company’s goals. If most of your competitors are targeting women aged 18 -45 who are interested in cooking, then you’ll likely have a more difficult time reaching your own target market.
5. Learn from Google Analytics – Google Analytics data can reveal some helpful insights about your website’s traffic. Check out the geographic location of incoming visitors, their age and gender, consumer preferences via search terms, and overall user behavior on your site.
Pay close attention to the most popular blog posts, videos, products, etc. This information will help you refine who might be interested in what you’re offering now (and in the future).
You might also like Clicky, which is another analytics program that helps you identify general visitor data.
6. Do Your Own Research – The more familiar you are with your topic or industry, the better equipped you’ll be at narrowing down potential customers for your product or service. For example, if you know that a subset of people likes to go hiking every weekend, then you can target those who frequently visit national parks or who watch ‘Man vs. Wild’ on television.
Find Your Target Market Online on Social Networks
Today nearly all businesses use social media networks to build connections with potential customers and establish their brands. This is why it’s important to identify where on these platforms people like your target audience congregate.
If you’re looking for ideas of interest to explore, here are some suggestions:
Facebook – Try targeting groups that share common characteristics with your customer base (This can be done by searching for ‘groups’ related to the topic of interest) or look at similar pages your company page has received likes from. Find out what popular individuals within those groups are about and monitor their activity closely so you can establish a relationship. You might even consider creating an ad directly to them within the Facebook platform!
Twitter – People who follow similar accounts are likely to share similarities with your audience . Look at Twitter accounts of companies you respect and see if they follow any users in common. If so, consider those as possible options for reaching your target market.
Pinterest – Pinterest now has over 70 million monthly users, making it an extremely popular way for people to find new products and services online. Try looking up ‘interests related to your company’s goal and note what boards those terms result in (i.e.: Interested in starting a fashion blog? Take a look at Go Chic Fashion and their various boards). Monitor that activity carefully.
Photos – Social photo-sharing sites are among the best places to find your target market. Instagram, Flickr, and Pinterest are great tools for this purpose. Monitor what communities they follow/are followed by in order to learn more about them, their interests, and how you can appeal to them with your company’s goals.
How To Promote Your Business To Your Target Market
Now that we’ve determined who our competition is, let’s take a look at some ways we’re going to reach our target audience:
1. Internet Search – This is an obvious one, but many people forget that there is a certain art involved when doing searches online. It may seem like common sense at first, but make sure to try several combinations of your target market’s name (i.e.: Jake Smith, smithjake, jsmith) and interests (i.e.: cycling, mountain biking, road biking). Also, take note of which sites appear at the top of search engine results: these are often websites that will help you best reach your audience.
2. Link Reclamation – If your business already has a few customers, there is a chance that they may have ‘reclaimed’ links for their own personal use online through blogging or social media profiles. Links can also be taken from other places such as forums and review sites such as Yelp or Amazon. Make sure to find those who have previously interacted with your brand online and focus on them for reconnecting.
3. Online Videos – Video sharing sites are among the most popular places online to find your target market. There are several ways you can get started exploring them: Check out channels of popular TV shows that share similarities with your business’s goals (i.e.: The Voice, Fixer Upper) and see which other users follow them on these services; Look at the most viewed videos on YouTube related to your industry/goal and check out what accounts were attached to them; Go to video sharing websites of companies similar to yours in goal, look for people who subscribe to their content, and try reaching out!
4. Forums – If you’re not familiar with forums, think of them as discussion boards for different interests or hobbies. There are many forums and discussion groups online and it can be helpful to see who is participating in them, what kind of dialogue they’re having, and how your business might fit into the discussion. Try out different searches related to your industry/goal and learn if there are any forums relevant to them.
5. Blogs – This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should get started blogging (though this is a great idea), but rather check out popular blogs relevant to your industry/goal and find out where their followers come from! Many times you will find that these communities still rely on blog comments as a store of value for conversation; make sure to monitor these interactions closely and be prepared!
6. Lookalike Audiences – If you’ve done any Facebook advertising in the past, you may be familiar with these audiences. These are people who have similar interests and profiles to your current customers on Facebook, typically resulting from a page like or an engagement on one of your ads.
The Right Messages
Once you determine your target audience, creating specific messages and products will be key. Knowing the pain point of your audience, and how to address it will lead you to higher conversions.
What makes this step difficult is the creative process. There is no one-size-fits-all message, so it’s up to you to figure out what works best for your brand and audience. It will require creative thinking, but here are some tips when brainstorming:
1. Use Data – The more information you have about your intended audience, the easier it will be to create a relevant message for them. Make sure to do as much research as possible before getting started on any ads or promotional materials.
2. Be Practical – Your target market responds well to messages that prioritize their needs and interests without being too “salesy”. Address pain points in a way that doesn’t seem pushy or ‘hard sell’. Try to use the same tone as you might use to talk with an old friend.
3. Personalization – Think about different people in your target market and what makes them tick. Are they more likely to respond well to humor or are they more serious? You can adjust your messaging based off of what you learn about them, but this requires doing extensive user testing before you move forward.
4. Explore Niches – If there is a specific part of your audience that you want to pay attention to, then dive into that niche specifically! This will allow for even greater personalization since there are smaller groups that can be identified and targeted on Facebook.
5. Be Transparent – Ads on social media should aim for authenticity, so make sure to keep it real. This means avoiding clickbait or trying to fool your audience into thinking an offer is something it’s not. Your customers want to know what you’re about, so just be yourself!
Putting It All Together
Once you have the basics down of finding your target market using market research, analyzing their interests on Facebook, and creating compelling messages that address their needs, you can start putting all these pieces together in one place.
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