As a marketer, defining your target audience is a critical task. After all, how can you communicate effectively with your customers if you don’t understand who you’re speaking to? While defining a target audience is essential, it’s also easier said than done, and many agencies struggle with the process.
In this post, we’re going to break down the importance of defining a target audience, and how – exactly – to go about doing it. Let’s dive in.
First Things First – Why Does a Target Audience Matter?
Tough news in the world of marketing: your target audience can’t be “everyone.” Think of it this way: if you were trying to make friends or find a partner, you wouldn’t cast a net that broad.
Instead, you’d define a few priorities and non-negotiables, and go from there. Your new love must like cats, for example, or share your political views.
Applying some filters narrows your search parameters and increases the likelihood of finding the right match. The same goes for defining a target audience.
No company can appeal to everyone. And that’s okay. The secret to great content marketing is understanding who your customers are and knowing how to talk to them. That’s where a well-defined target audience comes in. When you understand your niche, you can dominate it.
Understand Your Target Audience: 5 Actionable Steps
Now that you know why a well-defined target audience is so important, let’s talk about how to create one. Here are five steps to follow:
1. Gather Data on Your Current Customers
You don’t have to get granular with this just yet – even basic information will go a long way toward helping you understand who you’re targeting. Here are a few data points to consider:
- Age. How old is your average customer? Creating content for 60-year-olds requires a different approach than creating content for 30 year-olds. Even knowing which generation your customers come from is a crucial starting point.
- Location. Where do your customers live? This helps you target your messaging and make smart content choices.
- Interests. Aside from using your products, what do your customers like to do? What other companies do they shop with? Where can you reach them most effectively?
- Spending patterns. How do your customers approach making a purchase? Are they price-sensitive or not? What do they need to feel comfortable buying a new product?
By gathering this information, you set the stage for the rest of your target persona to take shape.
2. Break Your Audience into Segments
Very few companies only have one target persona. More likely, you’re targeting a few separate personas, with similar interests, concerns, and priorities. Get as specific as possible and break your audience down into named segments.
For example, maybe you have “Agency Allen,” a 30-year-old marketing manager at a hip creative firm, and “Corporate Carol,” a 50-year-old C-suite executive. While both might want similar things from your company – the way you’ll engage them through content will vary.
3. Take a Look at Your Competitors
Now that you’ve begun to flesh out your audience segments turn to your competitors for additional inspiration. Are they pursuing the same audiences as you? Are they targeting people you haven’t tried to reach? How are they communicating with their customers? What types of content are they using? While you don’t want to copy their approaches, understanding what they’re doing is an excellent way to stay on the cutting edge of your industry.
4. Define the Value of Your Product or Service
Now that you’ve got a pretty good idea of who your audience is, you need to articulate the value of your product or service as it relates to them. To put this simply, what are the benefits of your solution? How does it address their pain points or make their lives easier? What will working with you give them that nobody else can? Being able to articulate this in your content is one of the essential parts of building an effective content strategy.
5. Write Your Target Market Statement
Finally, it’s time to pull all the good stuff you’ve put together into one cohesive statement that defines who you’re trying to reach.
While every target market statement looks different, one example of a target market statement might be “SMBs in the creative sector, based in the Midwest, with a turnover of more than $2 million annually.”
The More Specific Your Target Audience, the More Effective Your Content
Creating a well-defined target persona can be challenging, but don’t be afraid to get specific with your approach. This is the foundation of good marketing, after all, and it’ll go a long way toward helping you define an effective content marketing plan down the road.