What Is A Target Audience and How To Find Yours

In the PR and marketing world, we often talk about discovering a client’s target audience and developing personas. That’s basically marketing geek-speak for different categories of people who would be motivated to buy or interact with your product or service. The descriptions of these different audiences can get specific, including interests, pain points, challenges and motivators that help drive or deter action. For personas, these categories are summarized into characters, complete with names, ages and short biographies.

With texts, emails and social media constantly at our fingertips, today’s consumers are buzzing with connection. In the midst of this frenzy, businesses are seeking to communicate directly with their target audience. 

As marketing and PR professionals, it’s our job to break through the noise to make a lasting, meaningful connection. To make an impact, we need to communicate with an audience who actually resonates with our brand.

What is a target audience?  

A target audience is a group of consumers who have interest in your brand or content — the consumer of your product. These audiences share similar characteristics categorized through demographics, geographics and/or psychographics.  

These traits can include, but are not limited to:  

  • Age
  • Gender 
  • Location 
  • Hobbies 
  • Income 
  • Education 
  • Lifestyle

What is the benefit of a defined target audience?  

A clearly defined target audience lies at the root of every successful marketing campaign. Having a comprehensive understanding of your audience allows your brand to cultivate intentional strategies that speak directly to your core group of customers.  

Instead of casting a wide net to captivate every consumer, focus resources on bold and purposeful content. This helps to create content that resonates with people who are most likely to engage, support or purchase. Next, you’ll need to know how to find your target audience.

Know your customers

Unless you have an infinite budget, you won’t be able to reach everyone effectively. Prioritize your personas so that a marketing firm can identify the most effective and efficient way to spend your dollars. If you effectively reach the “easy sells” who align with your organization’s goals, you’ll have more resources to market to the next most important audience. The more difficult it is to reach an audience, the more resources it will require. All too often an organization will spin its wheels trying to move the needle on an audience that just isn’t going to budge.

Understanding your customer base is foundational to defining your target audience. This can be done through one-on-one interviews, surveys or focus groups. These methods can provide qualitative data about your target audience and their life experiences. Also, consider sales data to understand how, when and why people make purchasing decisions. The more research you conduct, the clearer your audiences will become, and eventually personas will emerge.
Think big and ask: Who is engaging with my brand? What do they value about that experience? What do they care most about my brand?  

Gathering quantitative data is also important to understanding your consumer base. Online market research can be done using Google Analytics (GA), social media analytics and search engine optimization research.  

Google Analytics (GA) is a go-to tool to discover important data about the audience that visits your website. Search engines are a typical starting point for people to discover and learn more about brands, products or services. Learning what keywords are driving the most traffic to your website can help you develop customer personas of your target audience.

Get detailed and ask: What pages get the most clicks? What are the demographics of the people visiting those pages with the highest engagement? 

Dive into your target audience research 

Research is imperative for an informed target audience strategy. Once you have a clear understanding of who your primary customers are, it’s important to dive into demographic and psychographic research to learn more about what makes your audience tick.  

First, learning about their motivations, goals, and frustrations helps shape your strategy and better understand how your audience makes purchasing decisions. Next, look to gather as much information as possible about your audiences’ lifestyles, desires, needs, habits and preferences.  

Additionally, identifying industry trends and analyzing competitors is a great way to garner helpful data.   

Use data to create purposeful strategies 

The key to successful market research is to look beyond the data to connect with a powerful strategy that will actually move the needle for your business.  

Any PR and marketing campaigns should be crafted with the goal of targeting each of your top personas. But, how will you know if they’re successful? Benchmarking is a key step that many organizations miss. Set the foundation for where you’re starting so you can measure how far you’ve come. These benchmarks should be revisited frequently by everyone on the team so you can determine whether the campaign is effective or if it’s time to pivot.

Moving forward, your developed customer personas should serve as the foundation for campaigns and all marketing elements should relate back to your target audience findings. 

Research always takes time, and it can be difficult to justify when you’re eager to get started. The long-term success of your marketing efforts will be tenfold if you take the time to understand the who and the why for what you’re doing. Otherwise, you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall.

With a clear picture of who your audience is, you can tailor each message to deliver results that will impact your business.