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5 Tips for Identifying Your Brand's Target Audience

Knowing your brand’s target audience is the first step to improving the chances of tailoring your offerings to what they want. Some people take the outdated approach of trying to market to everyone at once.

But, doing that makes your messaging vague and may confuse consumers who feel they can’t get a good understanding of your brand. Take these practical steps to figure out which audiences you should target while running your business.

5 Tips for Finding Your Target Audience

1. Narrow Your Purpose.

It can take a while for people to get from knowing they want to develop a brand to specifying which customers can most benefit from it. However, you can kickstart the process by asking some questions. The answers you get will help shape what your business will ideally do. 

Try these examples, or make tweaks for better relevancy: 

  • What challenges will my customers face?
  • What do they need from me and why?
  • What other brands do my customers use?
  • Who are you targeting?

You probably can’t answer the last question right away, but knowing the answers to the other three will make it easier. Put yourself in the position of potential customers and ask yourself what would make them seek out your business.

Often, people do it because they want to ease pain points. Think about how you’ll address those and what you’ll do to encourage people to check out your brand if they’ve already established relationships with competing companies. 

Sometimes, when the question of who you’re targeting is a bit too overwhelming to consider in the early stages, the best alternative is to think about who will most likely not do business with you. Maybe you want to launch a brand of safety products for older people. In that case, children, teenagers and adults with no older surviving loved ones are not the people you’ll target. 

You can then think about the various needs associated with the better-suited groups. Older adults might want products that help them live independently for as long as possible. Then, their grown children might appreciate it if the brand has an easy-to-navigate website that lets them order products to ship to their parents’ homes. 

2. Speak to Potential Customers.

You may have a clear and vivid internal vision for your brand, but have you taken the time to mention your plans to people who may eventually become your customers? If not, consumers may not find them as valuable in real life. 

Start by engaging in a brief discussion about your business idea. After gauging people’s initial reactions, ask them about their opinions of companies similar to yours and what’s lacking in those business models. Perhaps you could fill a gap or find another competitive differentiator that helps your brand gain momentum.  

It’s also useful to pinpoint any factors that would make people definitely try doing business with you or not be interested at all. Encourage participants to go beyond brief answers and get to the heart of why they have the opinions they do. 

Another valuable exercise is to have people say or write down words or phrases that they associate with their favorite brands. The results will help you learn what consumers prioritize and allow you to evaluate whether your brand matches some or most of those ideals.

Emphasize that by giving their feedback, people are directly supporting the future of your brand. Most of them will probably like the opportunity to have that influence, especially when it means getting to support a brand during its development phase. 

3. Gather Data That Helps You Learn About Customers. 

In today’s world, people frequently and willingly engage in activities that require them to give information about themselves. Maybe they need to renew a license online, book an appointment at a hairdresser or get a prescription refilled. Those are just some of the many activities most of us do without thinking. 

However, some individuals start becoming more hesitant if they provide information to brands and suddenly start getting content that makes them feel like a corporate leader knows them better than they know themselves. Statistics show that 40 percent of people are more likely to show interest in a product recommendation that aligns with the information they’ve given a brand.

When you ask for customers’ data, specifically mention that you’ll use it to give them more relevant and exciting offers. You could also use their information when running split tests that show different versions of advertisements or website designs to particular groups. Then, it’s easier to see if certain phrases, colors, or other features resonate more with some people than others. 

Asking for customers’ data could result in you discovering some surprising things, too. Maybe you’ve thought about launching a luxury product line under your brand umbrella.

However, you might eventually learn that most of your customers are in a lower income bracket than expected. That revelation could tell you that your target audience may not be willing to spend the extra money required to splurge on higher-end goods. 

4. Become Familiar With Location-Based Specifics.

There are more than 31.7 million small businesses in the United States. That huge number shows why it’s essential to stand out from the crowd. One way to do that and simultaneously find your target audience is to become familiar with what’s in your immediate area and how it might affect your brand. 

Maybe your town has multiple colleges. Many campuses don’t allow people to have cars during their first year. If your physical store is not near public transit routes and you want to cater to students, it might be a good idea to offer delivery services. 

Alternatively, you might have a camping store on the edge of a national park. Perhaps, while learning about the needs of customers who come in to browse, you realize many people are curious about exploring the park but have some hesitations. In that case, you might offer free guided walks or tours based in the national park to help consumers get acquainted with it. 

Paying attention to location-based details can also help you attract target audiences who might live in adjacent areas. Maybe you operate in a border area and notice that many customers have addresses in the neighboring state. You might then use that information to run social media ads specifically for that group. 

5. Analyze Your Competitors.

Although it’s essential to develop your business, some people assert that it’s equally important to understand what your competitors are doing. Watching how those brands operate will help you identify your profitability potential and look for potential oversaturation. 

However, if you notice other brands doing well in your space, that’s not necessarily a reason to go back to the drawing board. Maybe you want to open an Italian restaurant, but there are already two others within 15 miles that are well-liked and long-established. You might have also learned through other research that “farm to table restaurants” is an often-used search term in your area. 

That might indicate people are eager to go to dining establishments that use local produce. If you find that competing restaurants haven’t focused on that aspect, it could be a niche to fill. 

It’s also useful to read reviews of competitors and see how people find them lacking. People might say things like, “My meal was delicious, but the atmosphere wasn’t very family-friendly” or “The food was too pricey, so I can’t afford to eat here often.”

The ability to address unmet needs is a compelling benefit of knowing your target audience. If people are generally happy with the brands they currently use, it’ll be harder to encourage them to try yours. However, if you know where those other businesses fall short, it’s easier to convince people your brand might be the better choice. 

Act Strategically for Best Results

It might seem like you have great ideas for building your brand from scratch or growing it in a challenging market. However, succeeding with those plans is all about knowing who your target audience is and seeing if they’re interested in what you hope to offer.

Learning from your potential customers with tips like the ones above will help you use resources wisely and show that you’re in touch with what people want and need. 

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Eleanor Hecks

Eleanor Hecks

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a prominent digital marketing agency prior to becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.