Identifying your target audience: methods and examples
Many entrepreneurs start a business trusting that someone, sooner or later, will be interested in their products or services. There is also often a belief that targeting a large audience of potential customers is the best way to secure a good number of sales and thus achieve success. Do not make these mistakes yourself: whatever your business idea is, in fact, remember that it must be aimed at a very specific group of potential customers.
Accurately identifying your target audience is the starting point of any successful business model and market analysis . Knowing who the target audience of your product or service is gives you the ability to best refine your offering, targeting it to specific needs, interests and desires and promoting it using the most effective messages and channels for that specific group of consumers.
To properly carry out this particular process, you must, first of all, be clear about what the English term “target” means and know the meaning of the concept of “target audience”. The English word “target” can be translated into Italian as “objective“. In this context the “target audience” (also called “target customers”) is to be understood as the target to be hit with a precise communication and marketing strategy , and that is, more precisely, as the group of consumers that a company believes may be most receptive to its offer and to whom, therefore, it addresses itself in a certain way to sell its products or services.
Now that you know more precisely what is being talked about, it is time for you to understand, specifically, how to identify your target audience.
One of the main tools used to identify the target audience is what is known as market segmentation. There are several techniques for grouping consumers in order to identify the best “target to hit”. One of them, in particular, divides the market into 4 homogeneous groups, identified through common characteristics that refer to the following factors: demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioral. To understand what market segmentation is, it is necessary to learn more about these factors.
Demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioral factors
Demographic factors refer to those that define the profile of a consumer based on aspects such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, occupation and income. Geographic factors, on the other hand, refer to where consumers live and take into consideration such parameters as, for example, climate and population density in that location.
Product or service offerings can also be based on psychographic factors, such as consumers’ personalities, interests, preferences, values, and opinions. More specific are behavioral factors, which refer to a specific moment in time: the behaviors of consumers when purchasing products or services.
Remember that market segmentation does not define a single target, but rather several target groups. If you want to be even more precise, you can use what is known as “micro-segmentation“, which allows you to target even smaller and more precise groups of consumers, i.e., what are commonly referred to as “niche segments“.
We will elaborate later on the importance of the concept of “market niche“. Now, however, it is necessary to dwell on how, after segmenting the market and identifying the target “to hit”, it is possible to analyze it to discover its specific wants and needs, as well as its habits.
Social listening: the study of social media
There are several ways to analyze the target audience and gather as much information about them: traditional surveys, questionnaires and focus groups are just some of them.
Social listening is a particular activity that consists of proactively keeping abreast of what consumers are saying on the web about a brand, product or service (but also, more generally, about an industry), with particular reference to conversations on social media. It is precisely on these platforms, in recent years, that users have found ways to make their voices heard and share their opinions even more widely and articulately than in the traditional review. Most consumers, not surprisingly, today rely precisely on social media for their purchasing decisions.
For a company, therefore, presiding over social media is crucial for several reasons, including precisely the need to better analyze and define the profile of its consumers, based on what they want and search for online and with reference to their expectations, needs, and preferences met and unmet.
Doing Social listening also helps humanize the brand, which in this way, by taking part in debates and conversations, shows itself open to dialogue with consumers. But that’s not all: conducting this particular activity also gives the opportunity to make the most of Influencer Marketing.
Identify the right influencers for your product/service
Properly performing your social listening allows you to more easily identify influencers who can help you better promote your products or services.
One of the main tips is to explore the background of users who mention your brand, so you can understand whether they usually write about topics related to your company and, more importantly, how they do it. Don’t just track mentions to your brand: you would do well, in fact, to also track mentions to your competitors or niche.
Choosing the right influencer is crucial: even an influencer who talks about topics pertaining to the same field as you can target the wrong audience for you or work incorrectly. Taking note of their followers’ opinions and taking advantage of all the social listening tools will give you all the information you need to identify the right people to reach your goal.
Reading of specialized articles
The social media boom, as already pointed out, has shifted much of the consumer conversation around brands, products or services to these platforms. This, however, should not mislead you: in order to best define your target audience, i.e., your potential customers, you should take care not to neglect more traditional media, such as specialized articles in blogs and magazines (those, that is, that deal with issues related to the sector in which your company operates). Even (and, in some cases, especially) these media can act as “influencers” on your target audience, and here you can take note of other consumer opinions, not only those directly concerning your brand.
On several occasions in the preceding lines, reference has been made directly or indirectly to the concept of market niche.
You should be clear about its meaning, because it will make it easier for you to identify your target audience: a market niche can be succinctly defined as a subset of the market on which a specific product or service is focused.
Segmenting your customer base gives you the opportunity to target not an indistinct audience of consumers, but a small number of people who, however, have common characteristics and share the same needs and desires with each other. This means that they will be more predisposed to purchase and that you can, therefore, more easily satisfy and retain your target audience.
Remember Michael Le Boeuf‘s famous quote:
“The satisfied customer is the best business strategy”.