We’ve all been there. You’re half-heartedly flicking through a magazine in a boring waiting room and come across a full-page ad that was seemingly composed just for you. Or you’re riding the tube, half-asleep, and catch a glimpse of an ad that instantly grabs your attention and wakes you up. Maybe you’re watching a game on TV, and a half-time ad makes you momentarily put down your beer. It speaks to your interests. It understands your thought process. It knows exactly what you need before you even realise you need it.
Maybe it’s fate.
Maybe it’s a coincidence.
Or, much more likely, it’s the result of in-depth target audience research and analysis that has resulted in a perfectly pitched marketing campaign, allowing this brand or product to work itself right into your mind, and probably, your wallet.
Knowing and understanding your target audience can make or break your marketing campaign.
Sure, you could spend a heap of money to have your ad displayed on a billboard on the side of the road, and it’s guaranteed to be seen by a huge number of people, but what percentage of those are the right people?
If your product is horseriding hats, then your ad is going to be better off reaching a smaller number of people, a high percentage of whom are likely to have an interest in horseriding. In this case, an equestrian magazine would be a better fit to connect your marketing campaign with your target audience, over a roadside billboard.
A targeted campaign not only gives you a better return on investment but also allows you to speak directly to your consumers, building a relationship and community that can create loyalty and a base of customers that continue to return in the future.
But before you get into the practicalities of how to reach your target audience, first you need to determine exactly who the target audience is.
Your target audience can be identified based on gender, age, interests, subcultures, location, and a range of other factors.
The demographic might be obvious.
It refers to the type of people who are likely to be interested in your product.
For example, if they are female or male, over the age of 18, or the age of 60. If you’re selling toddler shoes, then your demographic is children under the age of five. If your product is houseplants, then your demographic might be more broad and consequently harder to nail down.
When the demographic is broad, you can define your target audience based on other factors.
While both men and women of any age might be interested in houseplants, the one thing that links them all is their interest in plants.
Which brings us to our second point.
For anyone selling a niche product or service, determining the interests of your target audience is essential, and can help you to narrow down the people you want to market your campaigns towards.
They may share an interest in specific hobbies, genres of entertainment, or styles of interior design.
To further define your target audience and gain an understanding of the type of person you’re trying to connect with, it can be helpful to determine subcultures.
This refers to a very specific shared interest or experience of the consumer. For example, Taylor Swift fans, known as ‘Swifties’, identify as belonging to a subculture community that could be tapped into if you’re selling posters of Taylor Swift song lyrics.
The location might be important if you’re selling a product that is aimed at a certain type of lifestyle or climate.
For example, if you’re selling boats then you’ll likely want to focus your marketing efforts on coastal communities. If you’re trying to attract customers to visit your independent record shop in Bristol, it will be pointless marketing your ad across the whole of the UK since only a small number of the people seeing the ad will be geographically close enough to visit your store. For these types of campaigns, determining the location of your target audience will have a significant impact on your success.
Figuring out who your target audience is and where you can find them doesn’t happen overnight. It takes significant research and evaluation, which can be achieved in multiple ways.
If you have existing customers then you already have a plethora of information you may be able to tap into:
- Where are your customers based?
- Are they male or female?
- How old are they?
- What are they interested in?
Identifying trends in your existing customer base gives you a strong indication of who your target audience is.
Looking at the types of ads your competitors are creating, and who these are aimed at, can teach you all kinds of things about your target audience and how they want to be communicated with.
- Is the message serious or playful?
- Does it have political undertones?
- Is it bright and bold or neutral and classic?
Identifying gaps in the market and how your product or service can fill these gaps can help determine your target audience.
Conduct and analyse market research to your advantage.
For any product to sell, there has to be a decision-maker. This is the person who clicks ‘buy’ on your website, or hands over their credit card in your store.
The decision maker may not always be the target audience your product is aimed at, but you do need to consider them when planning your marketing campaign, since without them, there is no sale.
For example, if you’re selling products aimed at children then the decision maker will likely be a parent or guardian. For women’s perfume, the decision-makers may be husbands and boyfriends purchasing the perfume as a gift. This should be factored in when establishing your target audience and how you’re going to appeal to them.
How can you cater to your audience’s needs if you don’t know who your audience is?
Well, you can’t.
Establishing exactly who your target audience is and gaining an understanding of what they want and what they need is essential to the success of any good marketing campaign.
Knowing and putting them at the heart of your business development should be a driving factor in everything you do.
It’s how you’re going to attract new customers and keep the existing customers engaged.
Still struggling with the research and analysis required to nail down your target audience? Contact us for help and advice.