How to Define Your Target Audience – It’s Not What You Think

Wondering how to find your target audience and create content that connects you both? Or are you looking for ways to identify, analyze and find your target market fast and accurately?

You might relate.

Defining your precise target market can be frustrating. On the surface of it, finding your ideal market segment seems like an easy, no-brainer event.

In reality, finding the people who are looking to buy from you, can feel like an unwinding marathon full of trials and errors.

To build a solid business foundation in any market requires you segment your potential customer base. Doing so, helps you to mobilize your resources towards satisfying the needs of that particular group.

Without clearly finding your niche market, you’d be trying to please everyone.

Yet, not everyone is intent on buying from you. It could be they simply have no use-case for your type of product or service. Or, honestly, they are just not that into you.

What is a Target Market?

In his post for the Huffington Post, Goldman Sachs compares operating a business without a plan to driving without directions. You are not sure where to turn, or even where you are headed.

An intimate part of a business plan is having a clear understanding of your perfect client. That is, you can comfortably demonstrate the who, what, why, where, when and of your product or service.

Essentially, you can pinpoint:

  • What features your business, product or service offer
  • How those features are different from everyone else’s
  • What are the benefits of those features or what problem they are linked to address
  • How those benefits matter or help solve a customer’s problem
  • Who is likely to buy from you for the above benefits. Be sure to include their age, financial status, marital status, education level, employment status, and so on

Hence, marketing without first defining your market segment is a lot like driving without directions. You spend a lot of time, fuel dollars and effort making the wrong turns.

Why You Need to Identify Your Ideal Market Segment

Many businesses and marketers feel market segmentation restricts them to a tiny market. And that choosing a tiny market would not make commercial sense.

It is also possible to feel that segmenting excludes many potential customers.

These are legitimate concerns.

The excitement of launching can make you assume everyone else feels the same way as you do. The truth is that you might be assuming too much.

You can benefit from identifying and analyzing your focus market when:

  • You are working on marketing your business
  • You are looking to start a new business
  • You are rebranding your company
  • You are expanding your product lines
  • You are expanding into a new market

Here, you need to identify the people who are willing, able and looking to buy a product such as yours for several reasons:

  • To figure out if there is a need for your product, service or idea
  • To analyze if the need in the market makes commercial sense to invest in
  • Be able to identify your competition and what market share they command
  • See what you can do differently to carve a profitable market share and be competitive
  • To figure out which marketing methods you can use to bolster visibility as a new player and how you can use those to increase reach.
  • You are already in business but want to improve conversion

Refining your target market analysis when you are already operational has several benefits as well:

  • To find out how you can use your ideal customers’ favored marketing methods to increase effectiveness
  • To inform you whether you should switch and tailor your marketing messages. This can help you connect with a specific group of potential and existing customers
  • To learn what buyers use your product or service for. You can use that knowledge to further refine your potential customer base.
  • To help understand your existing customers pain-points. What exactly do they wish you’d include in your product or service to solve their suffering?
  • You are already in business but want to increase your competitiveness

Getting into your competitors’ market segment is not the smartest move. Yet, prior research will help you figure out what customers are not getting from their seller. You’d know what to provide to inbound more unhappy customers.

Defining your core market helps you to focus your efforts on satisfying a specific set of customer needs. So you can ensure continuous improvement and become an authority in that area.

That, in turn, helps you build trust, and establishing trust gets you customers and repeat clients.

How to Identify and Analyze your Target Market in 2017 and Beyond

So, how do you ensure to relish in the benefits of segmenting your focus market?

Here are 6 ways to help you decode your target market online and off:

Quit Making Assumptions

Do not be surprised if what you think of your focus market is wrong. Let the numbers do the talking, so to speak. Collect the research data to inform your decision.

Here are some surprising stats that might catch you off-guard:

  • Did you know Audiense found that about 21% of confessed English National Opera fans also followed Snoop Dogg?
  • The most popular post on Creative and Coffee, a cooking blog, is “How to Toss A Burger Like A Badass” and is most popular with men?
  • An increasing number of women fashion stores are styling up to appeal to men too. They figured more men are coming in to buy items on behalf of their partners or for them
  • It would not be surprising to find out that many kids get, not what they or their parents want, but their nannies’ wishes. This is especially so for children whose parents are young professionals with significant income and tight work hours.

Find Out Your Potential Customers’ Pain-Points — and Offer A Good Solution

A mistake many businesses make is to assume buyers care much about their brand. Contrary, buyers really care about what you can help them solve.

Intercom’s Des Traynor once said:

“Products solve problems—not people”

You make a mistake every time you talk about yourself instead of addressing what you are doing to elevate the suffering of your customer.

And you need to research what exactly your clients love about your product or service. Many times, it might not be what it seems.

A good example:

Popular thinking attributes Apple’s massive success to producing superior hardware and software. But experts know better.

Apple’s diehard flock, ultimately, desires and values the emotional fulfillment an Apple device gives them. This includes perceived quality, superior technology, and the feeling of being a part of an advanced movement/society.

In fact, the company sells millions of over-priced devices (compared to say, Samsung Mobile). They also offer a closed operating system (unlike Android’s inclusive platform). But instead of making Apple enthusiasts sofeel isolated, the exact opposite rings true.

Clever and effective marketing, backed by a crisp understanding of their customer, helps Apple to make buyers feel a part of a special, privileged group.

The emotional connection brewed helps the Silicon Valley giant to steer clear of the competition. They end up selling dozens of millions of devices in mature smartphone markets than any other smartphone maker.

Check out how their Airpod video ad (above) manages to trump racial and age differences, as well as downplays the devices’ price while exciting a group of people (of all demographics) that want to feel chic and cool, and who love to listen to music on the go.

Create Buyer Personas

Successful businesses use buying personas to craft a compelling story that relates to their core customer, as well as connect with them emotionally.

Ask if you are creating the right buyer personas. This would help you define the ‘who’ aspect. Asking who is your buyer helps I analyzing and answering a number of vital targeting questions, such as:

  • Age. E.g. What age/age group or bracket does your product or service appeal to?
  • Financial status. E.g. Can your market segment afford your offering and how often will they buy your product?
  • Gender. E.g. What gender is likely to make the larger section of your market? And is it possible the smaller section has higher potential in terms of growth, loyalty, expenditure, and so on?
  • Occupation. E.g. What do they do for a living and how does that affect their purchase decisions?
  • Life Situations. E.g. Dig into the people’s details such as their job title and function, employer or employee, family life, marital status, location
  • Psychographics/AIO variables/Emotional Needs. E.g. What do your potential ideal customers value, find exciting, shareable and interesting? What’s their dominant behavior or personality, what opinions do they hold regarding certain things and lifestyles?

When you can gather, collect and digest data to answer a good chunk of these questions, your targeting campaign becomes easier.

You can follow up with crafting a marketing strategy that almost literally speaks their struggle. One that amplifies their aspirations. And connects the dots between what they need and what your product or service can do about it to solve that problem.

Take Steps to Define and Become an Authority in your Core Market

Still, you might find you have multiple segments.

For example, who does a pizza outlet target?

It could be college students, or jobless moms through a home-delivery service, or young professionals who have little time for ‘proper’ meals.

Still, it could be anyone with a sweet tooth. And shouldn’t pizza stores focus on serving people who wish to grab a bite while in a hurry?

It can be tricky to serve a multifaceted focus market. In such a case, understanding each sub-segment is essential for the long run. You’ll want to ask which section of buyers pays you the most and start with focusing on that segment of customers before appealing to the others.

Yes, you can add coffee and tea after that.

Peter Thiel had good advice for this type of situation.

According to his reinvention of the John Gall ‘Law’ on working, simple systems, you’ll want to do one thing first, and do it right, before exploring further options. This is essential if you seek to replicate your initial success to other areas.

“Taking on too much initially sets up a startup for failure. Instead, focus on monopolizing one market first before expanding to the other segments” ~ Peter Thiel

You might recall the earlier days of Facebook and Amazon. They focused almost exclusively on the college population and selling books online respectively. Once they had monopolized their core market, they set out on a solid foundation to colonize other segments.

Still, traditional market segmentation can become complex, fast—especially when demographics and geography do not matter much and interests overlap.

So how do you decode your target customer segment in that case?

Why Not Just Ask?

One of the best ways to find out your core market is to simply ask the people.

You can run a survey on your social media channels and main website. Ask visitors to share their frustrations. Also, seek to find out what they love about your product.

Still, what do they use the product or service for? And, what else do they hope to experience in terms future improvements?

You can set up face-to-face meetings to interview real people about the same issues. You could interview prospects at trade shows and niche seminars.

But, you do not even have to leave your office—if you feel getting out there will kill time and cost you more resources.

Conducting meet-ups via Skype or free WhatsApp calls can work the magic too.

“People are willing to contribute their honest opinion if they feel it will reward them with increased value.”

Thinking of offering gifts to encourage participation?

It is a good move if you do not mind much about the cost of the freebies. Yet, you might want to check if participants want to chip in solely to get the gifts, which may skew responses leading to inaccurate intelligence.

Instead of focusing too much on people’s attributes, perhaps understanding the problem is the highway to take. And the best way to truly ‘get it’, is to ask the person experiencing that pain or need directly.

Learn from Your Competition

When you are just starting out, you might do well to not reinvent the wheel.

As already discussed in this post, what your competition is not doing could help you identify a group of unsatisfied customers that are willing and able to switch to your solution. That is if you can provide a better solution than the initial seller.

Similarly, what they are doing right could help you understand the aspirations of the targeted market.

You can find out:

  • How they describe their business and position their brand in the market
  • How is their pricing and are their customers able and willing to pay that much? Think you can offer something extra for the same price or higher?
  • What marketing methods do they use most and which ones seem most effective for them?
  • What are their future plans?

Yet, this type of information can be challenging to get without some level of digging or insider insight. But looking around, there are tools you can use to capture that data and feed to your targeting strategy.

This is especially true if your competition has a sizable internet presence.

Here are online software solutions you can use to spy on your competition. So you can gather intelligence for your targeting campaign:



Google Analytics



Similar Web

Still, these suites also double as tools to capture, record and help you decode other aspects of your segmentation drive. Those include the demographics, geography, interests, and financial statuses of your potential customers.

The Bottom Line

Defining your target market helps determine the core needs of potential customers.

Understanding those pain-points will help you refine your product, service or marketing campaign to address them. This helps you to connect with people who are looking for a product or service that can solve their problem.

You can learn this from analyzing the competition. Or by asking potential customers through primary research. Also, first focus on solving the problem you find before looking to expand your market scope.

Still need more information on how to find and define your target market?

We have just the resources to help you decode your ideal niche. Let us know if we can help.

Have you managed to define your target audience? How did you do it? Let us know in the comments below.


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