I’ve been talking about Target Audiences for a long time, but I’ve never really gone through what that actually means. This audience is the core group of people that your business needs to focus on in order to survive. You can have more than one target audience, but if you do, you will need to have the time, energy and money to give each of these target audiences equal attention.
When trying to define your target audience, a good rule of thumbs that the more detailed and specific your description, the easier it will be to market to this group. So how should you go about narrowing it down? The same way you complete any large task, split it up into more manageable pieces. Target audiences can be broken down into demographics and psychographics.
Demographics include things such as age, gender, ethnicity, geographic location, education level and employment status. But can also branch out into more specific things such as home-ownership status, languages spoken and disabilities, among others. These categories are all statistical, factual and can be collected without opinion or bias.
Psychographics include things such as personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, behaviours and lifestyle choices. These characteristics are harder to pin down, as they are not statistical information that can be easily collected or easily organized. They can and are affected by bias both from the person with the characteristic as well as from the person collecting the information. Your own history, values, culture and perceptions can skew the data.
Companies often use a specific made up person to represent their target audience as a whole. Instead of the generalization “Our target audience is 13-25 year old men who like movies. ” They say “This is Mike. Mike’s 17 years old. He lives in Calgary with his parents in the suburbs while he finishes high school. He is an average student, does his work and wants to go to university but is not an overachiever. Getting into university is a stressful topic for him. He dresses casually but nicely. He has a part time job to pay for his entertainment and stress-reducing activities. He has no financial responsibilities or commitments other than his cell phone (which he is always on, like most people his age). This gives him a large disposable income. Mike spends this income on his car, hanging out with his friends, and going to the movies – especially movies with fast cars, explosions and beautiful women in them.”
Look at the difference between what you know and can infer about 13-25 year old men who like movies vs. what you know and can infer about Mike or someone just like him. Does Mike seem like the type of person who would share his opinion online about a movie he liked? Yes, he does. The more you define your audience the easier it becomes to figure out their motivations, their purchasing decisions and what potential barriers to buying they might have.
So take some time and figure out who your “Mike” is. Once you’re done, you’ll find you have a lot more answers than you originally thought. It can also help with decisions like where you should be promoting your product or service. Do you think Mike would see an advertisement in Business in Calgary magazine? Probably not. Do you think he’d see it in a car magazine? Maybe. Before a movie? Absolutely.
Remember that your target audience doesn’t include everyone your business comes in contact with. Just a segment that represents “your bread and butter.” Brand Champions can often be found within this group as well.
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