How to Identify my Target Audience

How do I identify my target audience? That is a question everyone finds difficult, especially when first starting their own business. With so many people in the world, from such diverse backgrounds, narrowing your target audience can seem impossible. You may also question why you can not just market to everyone. The answer is because not everyone is the same, nor do they have the same needs. Selling your product and service is a lot simpler when you know who you are selling to and how to talk to them.

Analyze your Product
Look at all your products and services individually. Make a list of each one along with its benefits. Then, make a list of people whose needs match each of the benefits. Ask yourself if the benefits will be obvious to your target audience as you begin marketing your product and services.
Next, ask yourself who is most likely to buy your products and services. During the process of answering this question, consider age, buying power, location, and lifestyle choices. For example, a produce company who sells vegetables and fruits to large restaurants, wouldn’t market a hundred lemons to a small family. It also wouldn’t make sense to sell video games to someone who doesn’t own a game console.
Finding your target audience isn’t only about physical needs, but also the value a customer perceives in the products you offer. There are many treadmills on the market, but not all of them are exactly the same. A less robust person might value a treadmill that folds easily without a struggle over a significantly stronger individual. The same goes for electronics. Some people prefer smaller, more compact phones and laptops over another who thinks bigger is better.

Do your Homework
Start in your network, including family, friends, colleagues, and people in your neighborhood. Examine the products they use and ask why they use them. Be bold to discover why they prefer one product over another, what they value most about it, and if they would consider using yours. Then dig deeper and find out why they would, or would not use your product or service. This exercise is a great way to introduce them to your product, if already available.
Use the convenience of existing data on the internet. Studying your competition is especially helpful if you have a similar product to something else on the market. Look at who is buying from your competition, when their sales are highest, and what products are most popular. For example, a company who sells winter coats would have their highest sales in the fall and throughout winter.
Another great way to accumulate data on your potential target audience is to send out a survey through mass email. This enables you to gather information about how your audience thinks and feels based on the answers they provide. Consider asking what they look for in a product, whether function over feature is more important to them, and where they shop for products (i.e., walk into stores, online, or a mixture of both).

The Funnel Approach
The funnel approach is a pretty straightforward method to determine who will benefit from your product most. Start by taking your product and going down a list of categories. Would a man or woman benefit more? This question alone may help narrow your audience down to about half the population. Then continue down your category list until you have identified a specific group of people. Other categories include: Age, income level, education level, occupation, ethnic background, married or single, and whether they have children or not.
The second step to the funnel approach is the look at the psychographics. This step is a lot different from the physical and factual information you gain from the other categories. This requires you to think more outside the box by analyzing personality, attitudes, values, interests and hobbies, lifestyle, and behavior.
For example, your soon to be released, brand new, state-of-the-art smartphone would benefit a teenage girl more than her grandmother. This is because a teenager is places value on texting, playing phone games, surfing the internet, and staying connected. The teenager also wants to show off their new phone to all of their friends. However, the grandmother may not understand technology very well or does not desire something so advanced , because she is less interested in the internet, games, texting, or what her friends think.
Remember, selecting your target audience isn’t about excluding anyone from your business. If a group of people doesn’t meet the criteria for your product and service, that doesn’t mean they can’t buy it or take advantage of it. Target marketing allows you to focus more of your money, time, and resources on the group of people most likely to buy from you. Knowing which group you are targeting is crucial to your business because it will direct your marketing and sales campaigns.
Lastly, ask yourself how your product fits into their lives. When will they use it and what features should appeal to them the most? Get into the mind of your customer and look at the product from their viewpoint. How would you benefit from it? Would you buy it? Once you’ve answered these questions, you are ready to begin marketing to the people who need your products and services most.