Your target audience is the group of consumers or buyers you want to reach and sell your products or services to. A target audience can be categorised by gender, age, occupation, location, interests, and so on. Defining your target audience is crucial to help you market your business in a way that will resonate with the people you want to sell to.

This guide will help you define your target audience by:

  • Defining what you offer
  • Conducting market research
  • Creating customer avatars
  • Researching your competitors
  • Separating your audience into segments
  • Staying objective

How to define your target audience in six steps

Follow these steps to find your target audience:

Step 1: Define what you offer

The first step to defining your target customer is to determine exactly what you can offer them. This is called a unique selling point (or USP). A USP essentially refers to what makes you better than your competitors. Defining it helps you focus your efforts on creating something that caters to your ideal group of customers.

Make a list of your business’ strengths, including specific benefits of every product or service, your processes, customer service, vision, mission, and so on.

Step 2: Conduct market research

Market research is the process of gathering information about your target audience’s needs and buying habits to determine how successful your offering would be among these people. 

Understanding your buyer’s problems, pain points, and desired solutions will help you craft your product or service that provides value to your target market.

You can do this by sending surveys that people fill in, talking to people you trust, or getting feedback from focus groups. Then, use the insights you get to start forming a clear picture of your target customer.

Step 3: Create customer avatars

A customer avatar is a profile of your ideal customer that covers everything you need to know about them to be able to appeal to them. The purpose of customer avatars is to put a face on your audience to help you tailor your marketing message easier.

Base your avatars on factors like age, gender, industry, location and job. You’ll also want to include other information about their interests, other brands they like, and what they struggle with. Make your customer avatars more ‘human’ and relatable by giving them a name.

Once you’ve decided the basics, you can dig deeper and ask questions like:

  • What sort of information do they need to know before speaking to you?
  • What search terms do they use to find products or solutions like yours?
  • Where do they already spend their time online (social media, resources, etc.)?
  • What followers/publications/platforms do they regularly engage with?
  • What pain points can you solve for them?

Creating customer avatars is an excellent way for you to understand who you’re targeting and increase your chance of attracting them to your business. 

Step 4: Research your competitors

Research and analyse what other businesses in your field are doing and who they’re trying to sell to. For example, look at what social media platforms they use, including what they post and how often. You’ll also want to check how people interact with these companies. 

Conducting competitor analysis will give you an understanding of what makes your audience tick and find out what methods are already effective in your niche. Once you know that, you can consider ways to include them in your own marketing strategy.

Step 5: Separate your audience into segments

If your business can provide value to different types of customers, the next step is to separate them into segments. 

Customer segmentation is a technique that companies can use to identify different audience groups. Use the insights you got from building your customer avatars to create clearly defined customer segments. This step will allow you to deliver more value to your target customer segment.

You can take many different approaches when creating your segments, but some common customer segmentation examples include:

  • Industry or sector
  • Customer longevity (how long you’ve been in business with them)
  • Technology they use
  • Location
  • Buying influence (the role they play in the final decision to work with you or not)
  • Special requirements (for example, vegan, low-budget, etc.)

Since there’s no one-size-fits-all, it’s ultimately up to you to determine which version works best for your business. 

Step 6: Stay objective

It’s easy to unintentionally interpret information based on your existing beliefs, which is called confirmation bias and is to be avoided at all costs. If you’re not careful, you might miss opportunities to win new business because you’re focusing too much on the wrong people. 

Research shows that 42% of startups fail not due to a lack of funding but a lack of market need.

When defining your target audience, one of the most important things is to remember it’s about them, not you. You need to base your marketing methods on what they want and need, not what you prefer to do. Only then will you find a way to promote your business that inspires your audience to make a purchase.

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