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How to Define Your Target Market

Everything you need to know about defining your target market.

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By Anastasija Petrevska
Content writer at Ranking Press

This article is designed as a step-by-step guide to defining your target audience. We’ll go over the basics, discuss the importance of target market analysis and give you great target marketing strategies and examples.

Now let’s dig in.

“Marketing in general was all about mass audience. Now, it’s much more about communication to niche targeted audiences.”– Chris Gee, marketing adviser and digital strategist.

The boom of social media networks has changed the face of marketing forever. The marketing practices of the 20th century and the use of traditional media played their part in shaping consumer culture, but in 2019, they are a thing of the past.

The emergence of social media, Google and the Internet in general, has molded a completely new reality. Through changing the way information can be spread, accessed and shared, it has opened the doors for a whole new perspective on marketing, one that isn’t as focused on reaching out to consumers on a massive scale, but rather, tries to draw the right type of consumer in.

But how can you, as a brand, or an entrepreneur, know how to draw in the right consumer? After all, the sheer amount of content that is being produced on a daily basis is staggering – and the democratization of information means that there’s practically too much noise in every industry and in every niche.

And there’s the very real question – how can you stand out in a digital landscape that’s overflowing with competition?

Of course, one answer would be that you have to have a chiseled unique value proposition. But who do you propose it to? Who does it appeal to? Is there an ideal consumer that would immediately be drawn to your products?

Yes, there has to be – but what’s more important than anything else, is this: in 2019, you can’t afford not to know that answer.

That’s why we’re going to show you exactly why you need to have a specific target for all your marketing efforts, or what’s commonly known as a target audience.  

Now, we know that the concept of audience targeting is not something new to you. If nothing else, you probably have at least a general idea of who you’re selling to, regardless of whether what you’re selling is a product, a service, or a brand persona.  

But the real question is, are you doing it right?

The Basics of Target Marketing

Target marketing refers to a marketing strategy that relies on audience segmentation – its goal is to break up a large market into smaller segments and zoom in on a specific group of consumers. But the real starting point for target marketing is defining your target market or audience.

What Is a Target Audience?

Target market is a particular group of consumers or potential consumers a particular company or brand wants to market their services to. These consumers share a set of well-defined characteristics  – such as a similar demographic, or the same interest.

If you’re one of those brands that say they target “anyone interested” or simply “everyone” you definitely need to narrow down your target audience.

 Even if you say that you target, for example, stay-at-home moms or millennials, these targets are also too general and would benefit from target market analysis.

And no, narrowing down your target market doesn’t mean that you are excluding people. Rather, you’ll just focus your budget and brand messaging to the people who are more likely to appreciate them.

Both “target market” and “target audience” are often used synonymously, and while that’s no grave error there’s a subtle difference between the two. Target audience by definition, refers to a group of consumers targeted by particular advertisements.

A business can have more than one target market – or a primary target market and secondary target markets with potential for growth.

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Audience Segmentation

Audience segmentation can be used to split people into subgroups based upon a variety of criteria, such as media use, demographics, psychographics, behavior and product usage.

It’s a process that marketers use to both define a target market or to optimize their marketing strategy for an existing customer base.

Once you have a clearly defined target audience and an established customer base, segmenting it into even smaller groups based on these same factors and their particular needs and preferences will allow you to tailor your marketing messages. All in all, both processes will have an incredible impact on your marketing efforts and brand in general.

The Benefits of Defining Your Target Audience

Why is defining a target market so important? It’s one of the most essentials steps businesses need to take before they can push a product to market. It lets brands understand their niche, and really narrow down a unique value proposition.

  • Defining your ideal target market will let you tailor meaningful marketing messages that speak to your audience.
  • Defining your target market will also help you devise your strategy for distribution and pricing.
  • Better marketing spending – marketing to a well-defined audience is more cost-effective than spreading your resources too thin with your marketing.
  • You’ll get higher-quality leads through your marketing efforts than when you’re marketing to everyone (or when your audience is not as well-defined) and you’ll have an easier time converting them to customers.
  • By marketing to a well-defined group, you’ll eliminate consumers who will simply not value what you have to offer, no matter what.
  • It’s a better use of your time, more focused on addressing high-value prospects and will result in a better ROI.
  • Defining your target audience can help you position your branding and differentiate your business from competitors.

How to Define Your Target Audience

Getting Started With Target Marketing

So, we established that if you want your brand to stand out and set yourself apart from your competition you definitely need to target your efforts on a well-defined niche of your market.

And in order to do that, you first have to start by creating your ideal customer persona.

Creating a Buyer Persona

This is as simple and as complicated as imagining your ideal customer. When you’ve created your brand, who did you think it was for? What was your initial idea that made you test the waters in a given industry?

You are probably already starting out with an idea of what your ideal customer is, so here, we’ll only try to expand it and outline it even better.

We believe that you can essentially do this in three ways: looking at your existing customer base, analyzing your competition and analyzing your product/service and its unique value.

Analyze Your Existing Customer Base (Website and Social Media Analytics)

If you already have an established customer base, that’s the perfect starting point for this type of research. Think about the following:

  • Who is your typical customer?
  • Why do they buy from you?
  • What needs or wants are you appeasing with your product or service?

When you answer these questions you’ll draw out information to start shaping up a persona similar to your existing customer, one that is also likely to feel inclined to use your product or service.

Here you can rely on analytics – social media analytics and website analytics, as those are the two places that will help you make sense of the behaviors of your current customer base and draw conclusions for lead generation.

Look at What Your Competitors Are Doing

If you feel like your targeting game is not as strong as it should be, it’s always a good idea to follow market trends and specifically, to check out your competitors.

  • What audience are they targeting?
  • What’s their customer base?

Now, the purpose here is not to copy them, but to get a feel of the general direction you need to be taking. What also might happen, is that you might be able to find a specific niche within the same market that your competitors are overlooking – and position yourself better in your market.

Analyze the Unique Value Proposition of Your Product/Service

There are 4 essential things you need to ask yourself here:

  • What are the benefits of your product or service?
  • What consumer need is it addressing?
  • Who would have a need that your product will fulfill?

All these are general, but you have to start somewhere and this will help you set the foundation of your target market analysis.

Demographics and Industry/Niche

Know Your Industry

The industry you’re part of (defined as a sector of the economy), and your market (defined as a group of customers) are the first steps in identifying an ideal buyer persona.

You can start by defining whether you’re selling to consumers or to businesses (B2B or B2C).


Here’s a quick overview of everything that can fall under the concept of demographics:

  • Age

You don’t need to be too specific here – you only need to go as far as grouping your customers by decades or by the generation they belong to (Gen Z, Millenial, etc).

  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Education
  • Language

Make sure to think about the language your customers are using beyond assuming they speak the first language of their physical location. This can help you segment your audience even better and reach out to minorities.

Income/Annual income (buying power)

What’s your customers’ spending power? Where do they make their purchases, especially for items at your price point? What are their purchasing anxieties when they buy online and how can you address them?

Marital status

Demographics is the foundation of creating a brand persona, and it can help you eliminate a large chunk of your low-value prospects.

Geographical Areas or Locations

Specifying the geographic location of your audience is another important step for businesses who don’t sell and market globally. What is more, the location itself, whether you’re zooming in on a single country, city or geographical area (whether urban or rural) might help you tie a customer base to a specific culture, and enable you to devise marketing strategies for that culture specifically.

For those who do market globally, it might be beneficial to think about segmenting their audience based on location, for the very same reason. This can help you further down the line, as you can also use geo-targeting in your advertising campaigns on social media or explore interesting techniques like Snapchat geofilters.

Additionally, knowing your customers’ location and timezone will help you figure out the ideal time windows to display ads, have customer support available and gauge what are the best posting times for your content on social media.  

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Now psychographics is where all of this gets really interesting. In simple terms, demographics help you find out who your customer is, while infographics help you determine why they buy what they buy.

Let’s give you an overview of what psychographics usually includes.

  • Lifestyles

Are your customers health enthusiasts, vegans or part of the 1%? Are they defined by conspicuous consumption or conspicuous conservation? Think about this hard, because it’s one of the most important segmentation criteria in marketing.

  • Hobbies

Are they cyclists, yoga practitioners or like karaoke? Do they game or watch streamers on Twitch?

  • Interests
  • Political views
  • Personality
  • Values
  • Behavior

How do they typically buy – do they like to visit brick-and-mortar stores or shop on Amazon from the comfort of their home? What social media channels do they use regularly?

  • Life stage

Are your consumers college students or retirees?

So, ticking off a few checkboxes to define your demographics is great, but you are by no means done. These days, with the targeting possibilities we now have access to, thanks to Google and social media, you aren’t getting the most of the tools available if you aren’t thinking about psychographics.

By combining demographics, psychographics, and purchasing behavior analysis you’ll be able to define a whole buyer persona you can address in your marketing campaigns down the line.

For example:

You’re a company that sells tampons and pads. By analyzing your customer base, you found out that a good chunk of your target market are females who view themselves as feminists. You can adjust the messaging in your ads and campaigns to appeal to this particular audience and work up to a brand image that’s modern and progressive.

Like Thinx did:

Keep up With Marketing Trends and Statistics Data

Digital marketing is a very fast-evolving field, so you have to commit yourself to keep up with the trends – whether it’s social trends or statistical data.

If you don’t have a habit of checking out the newest statistics in marketing, you should. You can get a lot of questions answered, particularly the following:

  • How do the consumers in your niche like to shop?
  • What influences their purchasing decisions?
  • How does your target market respond to different marketing techniques?
  • Which social media channels do your target consumers use?

For example, data shows that Gen Z consumers are more likely to value the opinions of their favorite influencers over anything else. A consumer in the tech or marketing industry might look up to the industry leaders and follow them on Twitter. We aren’t making this up – we’ve seen the statistics – and you should too!

And Last, but not Least – Evaluation!

Once you’ve done your research and think you have a good grasp of who your ideal consumer is and what’s your target market, just take the time to sit back and evaluate.

  • Are there enough people in a specific audience segment
  • Do I understand what makes them purchase?
  • Does my product or service address an existing need or want?
  • If yes, can my target market afford it?
  • Do I know where to reach them?

Don’t break down your target market to death! A good way to gauge whether you’ve overanalyzed this is to simply ask yourself whether you can reach two target audiences with the same marketing message. If you can, you might have gone overboard.

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