How to Define Your Target Audience
Demographics, Psychographics, Motivators, and Obstacles
Your target audience is your client base or your ideal customer. (We’ve even heard it referred to as “ideal client avatar” but why use more words than you need to, right?) All too often businesses think they can market to “everyone” or “everyone who likes/needs ___ product.” But that’s a strategy that simply doesn’t work.
Have you heard the fable of the old man, boy, and donkey? Like many of Aesop’s stories, there’s a moral at the end, “Please all and you will please none.” Or, as we would put it, you can’t please everyone. It’s simply not possible.
By trying to create a brand or a product that works for everyone, what you end up with is a bland non-entity that doesn’t appeal to anyone in particular and isn’t memorable. You can accomplish so much more by choosing your audience and setting out to give that segment an experience tailored to them and their needs.
How to Define Your Target Audience
There are a few different things that come into play and it’s certainly not as simple as “old men” or “rich women.” We break it down into 4 different categories of information.
This is the obvious, easy-to-assess category. It’s also the one to be most wary of. You should absolutely consider age, gender, income, culture, and so on. And then you should reconsider to make sure that you’re not excluding people based on a statistic rather than the feel you want for your business.
For example, if your preferred customers are tech-savvy, it would be easy to use a blanket category such as “young people” but are 20-somethings really better with technology than 30 or 40-somethings? Do some research and see how each age group uses the kind of technology associated with your business and then make your decision based on that.
It’s also possible that you’ll have outliers. In this case, the majority of people who use/are interested in your product might be Millenials, but there are also a few customers in their 60s with those same skills. This shouldn’t change your overall strategy — go ahead and continue to appeal to whichever group is the largest or has the feel you want for your business. BUT don’t necessarily make it exclusive to that group.
For example, it’s fine to have a mission statement like, “Business organization tools for millennial entrepreneurs” that clearly states your ideal customer. But you wouldn’t necessarily want to limit the experience to that group by doing something like selecting a social media network that is popular among only that demographic and then requiring that for sign-in to use your website.
This word is less common, but it’s about what it sounds like — the psychology of your target audience. Think about how different brand names make you feel. If you picture a Red Bull commercial, you can logically deduce that their target demographic is young, active, adult males, which is fairly exclusive. BUT the “feel” is active, badass, energetic, and fun-loving. So if you go by psychographic it could be a much wider group of people, while still allowing the company to have a very defined brand and market effectively.
When trying to find your voice, consider how you want to speak to your clients. What tone would you want to use in marketing messages or in your blog? Do you want clients who are more formal or informal? Will they prefer a look that is more classical and sophisticated, or youthful and artistic?
Keep in mind that certain design styles are associated with different qualities. So if you decide you want to target wealthy customers and for your brand to have a luxury feel, you won’t want to use wild fonts and lots of cursing. Choosing an emotional tone for your brand is difficult, and we suggest heavily considering your own personality in the process, especially if you happen to be a solopreneur. You’ll find a much stronger connection to your business when it appeals to you and you can write naturally instead of trying to assume mannerisms you don’t already possess.
Motivators & Values
Digging even deeper into the psyche of your ideal customer, you’ll need to think about why they do what they do. Think of psychographics as the way you talk to your audience and motivators as what you say.
To really dig deep into your target audience’s motivators, you’ll have to think about their goals and why they want to achieve those goals. Also, consider what their values are and what values they might be looking for in people or businesses they work with.
Obstacles & Pain Points
You can’t solve someone’s problem without knowing what their needs are in the first place! And good business is based on what you can provide for your customers and how it makes their lives better.
You’ll need to consider your business and your products, and then think about who needs them and why. If you find yourself struggling, you might need to reassess whether your product or service is really something that will sell.
But if you can tap into these pain points, you’ll have a great head start on writing your product descriptions and marketing material. Because you already know who you’re speaking to and how you can help them. Don’t forget to consider obstacles to conversion, as well! What initial objections might your target audience have that your marketing can address at some point in the customer journey?