Your target audience is your ideal customer. They are the type of people for whom your product is designed. Knowing your target is a vital part of the marketing process since, with this information, you can market your product or service specifically to suit them. A Yahoo study found that 54% of people find targeted advertising more engaging. And engagement is what you need to convert those window shoppers into buyers.

Consider the humble razor as an example. A razor is really just a blade or a few blades on a handheld stick. Yet, when you go to the supermarket, there are countless options. Some are marketed to women while others to men. These companies are honing in on a particular characteristic of their audience (in this case gender), and adapting their marketing to suit them. Men want to know that the razor they purchase has been specifically designed for a smooth shave whilst being gentle on facial skin. Women, on the other hand, want razors that contour the legs, knees and ankles. Do we really need different razors for men and women? Probably not. But this is target audience marketing in action. We’re going to be persuaded to buy something that feels more relatable.

So how do you, as a business, discover your target audience? Start by following these five steps.

1. Consider your current customers

Why do your present customers buy from you? Are there any defining character traits or common interests that they have in common? Is there a particular type of customer who you get more business from? Make some notes on who your current customer base is as this can help you to get a clear picture of who your target audience actually is (as opposed to who you think they are). It can be helpful to keep coming back to this point regularly to continue reshaping your marketing efforts in the future.

2. Get clear on your ‘why’

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Your passion and purpose is inspiring and it may be the reason why people choose you over another brand. What do you care about? What drives you in business? Write down your ‘why/s’ so that your customers know who you are and what you stand for. You can use this insight when constructing your target audience’s psychographic information (see below).

3. Define the benefits of your product/service

Come back to the good old features and benefits of what you’re offering. List out each unique feature of your product/service as well as the benefits of those features. There may also be rippling benefits that spring from the initial benefits. List those too. From there, consider the people who stand to best reap the rewards of those benefits. The key is to get as specific as possible and try to find a niche that separates you from your competitors.

4. Identify the demographic of your target audience

You want to consider their:

  • gender
  • age range
  • geographical location
  • occupation
  • income bracket
  • marital/relationship status
  • education
  • cultural background.

5. And then their psychographics

This is the juicy stuff such as:

  • values
  • behaviour
  • attitudes
  • beliefs
  • lifestyle
  • personality
  • interests.

Buying is an emotional experience so you need to tap into your target audience’s psychology in order to market to them effectively. Who are they? What do they care about? Bring your own ‘why’ in because people who care about what you care about are more likely to choose your business.

Bring all of that together

Use all of this information to identify your target audience. If you have multiple products or services, you may have more than one. That’s okay. It’s also okay if you have more than one target market for one service/product. It will all allow you to create a more personalised approach to your marketing endeavours. And this, in the long run, will get you a much better ROI.