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how to define your target audience

Updated: Feb 8, 2019

So you have a fan-effing-tastic product or service that you KNOW people need or want. Now what? Ah, the most important question when it comes to marketing and design: who is my target audience?

what is a target audience??

First of all, what the hell even is a target audience?

Your target audience = your dream customer or client. The people who you have crafted your product or service for, and the ones who have the means to buy it. When we define our target audience, we are then able to craft our brand, marketing, and collateral for that specific group of people. It’s a game changer. And, ultimately, it just puts more money into your pocket with less effort, because the people you’re marketing to should be the ones who want (or need) your stuff.

For all you Webster Dictionary nerds, “target audience” is defined as “the demographic of people most likely to buy your product or service”.

Here’s a quick little exercise—

step one

Imagine a room full of, say, 30 or 40 people, and every single one of them wants or needs or is interested in your product.

step two

Now imagine that same room full of a different 30 or 40 people. Only this time they’re from all age groups and genders, living in all different places in the world, with all different income levels.

step three

Ask yourself, “Which group do I want to pitch my product/service to?”.

Yeah, that’s what we’re thinking, too (okay but seriously, if you chose group 2 you probably need to re-evaluate some things, unless you’re selling a book written in all languages titled, “How to Survive, so you’re in a room with people from around the world that you’ve never met before and have nothing in common”)

defining my target audience

Okay, moving on to the more important part of the show. “Who is MY target audience?”. Remember, this doesn’t mean your audience is ONLY who you are targeting; just the main person or group of people you are trying to appeal to. Nobody is saying Becky with the good hair won’t grab a bottle of men’s dandruff control shampoo off the shelf, even though it’s targeted towards men in their 20 to 30’s, okay? But for that particular product, it IS important to try and reach men in their 30’s who typically like pine scents in their locks versus Becky...get it? Cool.

Here are a few things to think about when you’re defining your audience:

- gender

- age

- geographic location

- annual income

- debts

- education level

- marital status

- family size

- religion

- language

- health

(there’s like 40 options we could keep adding here, these are just a few)

The list above includes information that has been gathered and can be sorted through by the good ol’ government ( ). You can even define markets by their economic trend status through the census (What the?! No really, check it out: ).

Companies (like Facebook!) also independently create their own ways of grouping people together. Once you’ve defined your targeted group by the cold-hard-facts, it’s time to think about their personality, buying habits, and values that cannot defined as matter-of-factly. Rinse and repeat this so you don’t forget it: define and refine! (No we really meant that… repeat it so you don’t forget!) Differentiating yourself from your competition (even if only slightly) is key to finding success in resonating with your audience. One of the basic ways to do that is to find out more about your target audience.

Here are some things you should ask yourself about the people you’re trying to reach:

- where do they shop

- how do they shop

- what are their hobbies

- what are their values, and do they align with yours (or your company)?

- what movies do they watch

- what jokes do they share with their generation, other generations

- what embarasses them

- what makes them happy

- what colors do they wear, love, loathe, why?

- do they travel

- do they like sports

- art?

- morning person? night person?

- what are their habits?

- wake up early

- stay up late

- coffee much?

SOOOO MANY MORE OPTIONS! The list really is endless, and should be tweaked based upon what problem you’re offering a solution to with your product or service.

in a nutshell

To wrap this entry up; the more defined your market, the easier it will be to reach them. You’ll be able to calculate and determine new and innovative ways (heck, even the obvious ones) to get your shit out in the wild—and RIGHT IN FRONT of your target audience. Hone-in on who they really are, and watch your business grow. Because once your target audience realizes just how great you, your company, and what you’re selling meets their expectations (yes, all three sometimes matter—depending on your market...see what we did there?), your bottom line will be on the up-and-up and everyone wins.