- Vanessa Rowley-Matthew
How to Identify Your Primary Target Audience
Every service business or organization should be able to state who its primary target audience is. If you are unclear about the main group of people you want to serve, you need to figure this out. To gain clarity, you must start with a clear understanding of your ideal consumer — client, customer, or supporter.
Your ideal consumer will be part of your primary target audience. Just one person who checks off all the boxes, making them the perfect consumer for you. Your target audience would be a group of people your ideal consumer socially identifies with who shares similar characteristics, attitudes, and behaviors with your ideal consumer. By understanding your ideal consumer and their attitudes and behaviors, you will be better equipped to make informed brand and content development decisions to appeal to them.
Could you have more than one target audience? Yes. But you can’t serve multiple audiences until you clearly understand the makeup of each audience, how you can reach them, and the brand experiences you want them to have. At the same time, this does not mean that you target everyone. If you must target more than one audience, try to stick with 3 to 5 for your business or organization. Narrowing your focus will focus your business efforts on who needs you most.
To confirm whether the primary target audience you’ve selected is the right fit for you, you must conduct target audience research. Conducting target audience research means collecting and analyzing demographic, psychographic, and behavioral information on the target audience of your ideal consumer. We’ll start with demographics.
According to Merriam Webster, demographics consist of statistical characteristics of human populations, such as age, race, gender, age, household income, educational level, marital status, political affiliation, and occupation, to name a few. When conducting research, I pay special attention to age. This is because ages link to generations, and a wealth of generational research can provide insights into some of the psychographic and behavioral data most common to people within any particular generation.
According to the dictionary, psychographics is the study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations, lifestyle, beliefs, values, and other psychological criteria, especially in brand and market research. Collecting this type of information from primary or secondary research can provide critical insights into what matters to your primary target audience to inform marketing. We want to go beneath the surface as to what makes members of your primary target audience tick.
Conducting primary research would mean collecting this information from members of your target audience via a survey, focus group, or individual interviews. Conducting secondary research means using existing research and data from credible sources to learn more about your target audience.
Ideally, it would be best to use both research strategies for a more comprehensive picture of your ideal consumer. As a brand strategist, I lean away from surveys and more towards collecting qualitative data. As a result, you will find more critical attitudinal and behavioral insights needed to create a brand strategy and strategic messaging within qualitative data.
Once you’ve collected all the information you need, it is then time to take a step back and ask yourself if the profile of the target audience you want to serve is at the stage in their life that most aligns with the services you are offering, from career to home life. For example, do their values align with your brand values? Would their buying habits, advertising attitudes, and communication preferences work for you? If not, you may want to rethink who you want to target and why because your goal should be to communicate with your target audience in the most relevant, relatable way through messages and visuals, which cannot happen if you two aren’t on the same page.
If you see alignment and your target audience’s profile excites you, then you are good to go. First, you can create a target audience persona — a robust profile of the person you want to help informed by the target audience research you’ve collected. Then, craft all your marketing materials and content for this persona. This approach is the best way to give your target audience the right messaging signals to increase their chances of doing business with you.