The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Right Target Audience

There’s a lot that goes into effective communication. Your tone, your word choice, your style, your method. But, perhaps the most important element is one that people all too often fail to think about: Your audience.

Yes, who exactly you’re talking to has an incredibly large impact on how you tailor your message. Don’t believe us? Think about this: Would you talk to your grandmother the same way you talk to your college roommate? We’re willing to bet you’re cringing at the very thought.

It’s human nature — we all adjust how we communicate based on who exactly we’re speaking to. And, as you might already be anticipating, this very same concept applies to successful public relations.

In order to find journalists and promotional outlets that will yield great results, you first need to know who you’re trying to reach. That will help you build an even more powerful and effective PR strategy — as well as ensure that you’re channeling your efforts and energy into the appropriate places.

Are you breaking into a sweat at the very thought? Trust us — this doesn’t need to be a complex and overwhelming process. And, we’re here to walk you through the whole thing. Let’s get started!

What exactly is a target audience?

Alright, this is a pretty basic concept. And, you’re probably rolling your eyes at the very idea of needing to listen to me explain this. But, you’d be surprised at how many founders end up with a totally clouded vision of what and who their target audience is.

Their brains become so hazy with too many other business objectives, that they end up making exceptions to have their target audience suit their goals — rather than having their target audience inspire their goals.

Anyway, that’s a story for another time. For now, think of your target audience as those people who will benefit most from what your company offers. They’re the ones who will get a very specific problem solved by your product — they’ll experience significant value.

If you think about things in this context, then it already becomes easier to identify who exactly you should be targeting. Even if you sell something that everybody technically needs — like light bulbs, for example — there are still plenty of different criteria that could impact that category.

There are people who want energy efficient bulbs. There are people who want long-lasting bulbs. There are people who want cheap bulbs. There are people who want colored bulbs. See where we’re going with this?

So, when thinking about your target audience, think of it in terms of this simple Venn diagram. That should make things easier.

Target audience

Problem your product solves

Problem your customer is facing

Why do I need a target audience?

There’s a trap that’s all too easy to fall into when you’re the founder of a new product or company. And, that’s thinking something like this: “Well, my target audience is anyone who’s willing to me listen drone on and on and then spend money on my product.”

As Robert Hisrich, director of the Walker Center for Global Entrepreneurship at the Thunderbird School of Global Management says in this Entrepeneur article, “We often overestimate the market size, and there might not be one at all.”

We get it — it can seem unnatural and totally counterproductive to narrow your scope and potentially isolate some customers at this stage in the game. But, it’s necessary for ensuring that you don’t just find people — you find the right people. The ones who see significant value in what you have to offer and will want to come back to you time and time again.

If you need some further convincing, here are a few other key benefits of cutting through the clutter and finding your target audience:

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” you’re likely thinking to yourself now, “I get it — a target audience is important. But, that doesn’t mean I know how to find it!”

Well, luckily, we’re here to help out with that too.

How to Find Your Target Audience

Finding your target audience might feel like a totally overwhelming undertaking at first. But, good news: You already have all of the information you need right in front of you!

Nobody knows your business or product as well as you do — the key is just to take that information and use it to make educated decisions about who you’re aiming to target.

As Kissmetrics eloquently explains, there are four main factors you’ll need to consider when zoning in on your target audience. These include:

  1. Market Size: Whether you’re targeting stay-at-home moms or college students, get an idea of how many people are in your target market.
  2. Market Wealth: Does this market actually have the money to spend on your product? That’s important.
  3. Market Competition: Is your market already saturated with competitors? Is there an angle or niche that hasn’t yet been quite as explored?
  4. Value Proposition: Is what you offer unique enough to stand out from the crowd and separate yourself from that competition?

Those are all things you’ll want to keep in mind as you go through the process of finding your target audience. They’ll help to guide you and make any tweaks necessary as you go along. Now, let’s dive into some questions that will help you identify who you should be targeting.

What is the main benefit of your product?

The first step in finding your target audience is to focus in on exactly what problem your product solves for people. Let’s take a guy named Jason as an example, who recently developed a pet-sitting app.

Here’s the problem that Jason’s product solves: Someone needs to head out of town, and needs to find a trustworthy and reliable pet-sitter for her four-legged friend.

Jason’s product addresses that issue by offering a free, simple-to-use app that allows users to search for reputable pet-sitters right in their area. That’s the main benefit—a solution to a problem.

Who could benefit most from what you have to offer?

Now that you have the problem and solution in your back pocket, it’s time to think about what sorts of people would frequently be facing this issue. Of course, many people have pets. But, you’re going to want to drill down and get a little more specific than that.

For example, Jason will probably want to talk to frequent travelers — people who often need to jet off and leave their furry friends behind. With that knowledge, Jason knows he’ll want to talk to high-level executives. They’re people who often need to travel for business, but will also have the money to pay for a professional pet-sitter rather than leaving Fido with a neighbor.

Jason could also target military members who need to leave for long periods of time, or retirees who spend a great deal of time traveling to see grandkids or taking a long-awaited cruise.

There are plenty of options here. And, it’s important to note that you don’t need to have just one target market — you can definitely split this into different segments. The key piece is to come up with specific people — developing and naming specific personas can be helpful — who will benefit most from what you’re offering.

What else do you know about this person?

Now, it’s time to dive into the nitty gritty details of what your specific customer segments have going on. This will help you get to know them and understand them, which is undoubtedly important for knocking all of your marketing and PR initiatives out of the park. Let’s get to it!

Understanding Your Audience

Simply finding your audience isn’t enough — you also need to figure out just what makes them tick. This might seem like a feat that only a psychic can pull off. But, it’s actually not as complicated as you might initially think.

Here are a few key things you’ll want to understand about your target audience.

Demographics

What age is your target customer? What gender? What ethnicity? Where does he or she live? What’s their income? What about level of education? Marital status? Does he or she have children? Start with these basic details before diving into any further research — they’ll help to guide you.

Psychographics

This will include things like values, lifestyle, and purchasing behaviors. This information can be a bit trickier to put your finger on. But, with a little research, you’ll likely be surprised at how much you can dig up.

Where They Hang Out

Does your target customer prefer Facebook or Instagram? Does he or she read the New York Times or lifestyle blogs? Discovering where your target customer spends time—whether online or offline — will help you better target where you place your promotional efforts.

Remember, you likely already have a pretty solid understanding of what problem you solve and who exactly you’re solving it for (it’s why you started your business, after all).

You just need to roll up your sleeves and get a few more details ironed out so that you can craft messaging and a narrative that will really resonate with your most suitable customers.