Skip to main content

Determining Your Target Audience

Knowledge of your target audience provides focus for marketing and advertising campaigns and makes it possible to measure results. Research is the foundation of a marketing plan. Using an existing database is one approach to researching target audiences. Databases house information about what customers have purchased, when, how much it cost and what promotional offers received responses. Research companies can provide database information at a range of prices, depending on size and depth of the list. Businesses can conduct their own market research, too.

Interviewing, distributing surveys, and conducting focus groups are all approaches to gaining information about your target audience. Interviews involve asking standard questions one-on-one, whereas focus group participants provide responses in a facilitated session. This achieves complete and accurate information about a target audience and provides verbal and nonverbal clues about how to reach them. For example, listening to how someone speaks indicates what tone will reach them. Research should answer who uses the product or service, when and where they use it, and for what purpose.

The gathered research is used to determine the demographics and psychographics of the target audience. Demographics describe attributes such as sex, race, income, education and location. Psychographics describe emotional characteristics such as how the target audience feels or acts, and basic behavioral characteristics. Understanding both the demographics and the psychographics of a target audience can lead to increased sales and marketability.

Focusing on features, advantages and benefits is the trick to acquiring and retaining customers. Start with establishing a connection with the customer. What does he or she want to achieve from using this product or service? Next, determine the customer's situational circumstances and environment. Learn how to meet those needs or how to overcome specific barriers. Then, choose an action plan for the customer to use this product or service and then obtain a purchase commitment.

Researching target audiences produces measured results, in addition to establishing customer rapport. Focus on developing new customer relationships and building on existing ones with newsletters, special offers and events. Finding the target audience and understanding it is the first step to reaching it. Maintaining that knowledge is an ongoing process, and the foundation of smart business.