Audience is Everything

Your target audience is not “everyone.”

This may sound like common sense, but we hear it all too many times. You see it every day in the way most brands speak to us as consumers, both online and offline. It’s subtle, watered-down marketing that we’ve all gotten used to seeing, but that doesn't have to be the case. The truth is, even if everyone on the planet uses your product, you should still define and commit to a target audience. Defining a target audience not only makes your efforts more efficient and effective, but it creates parameters in the development of marketing that result in truly customized strategies, messaging and tactics.

Here are a few tips to get you started with defining and reaching your ideal buyer:

More Focus, Less Waste

It’s tempting to aim for the bigger target. “But wait,” you might say “it’s a numbers game, right? Surely by using the shotgun approach, we’ll hit something.” While sales and other business functions may require you to cast a wide net, your marketing strategy and tactics should take the opposite approach. If you want more quality customers (i.e. fewer unqualified leads) you need to narrow down your audience to a specific type of person or subset of people.

For instance, if you sell lawn and gardening equipment, you wouldn’t target all human beings because “everyone has a lawn” or “anyone can mow a yard,” right? Depending on the specific product, you might target dads in their late 30s, new homeowners in a certain ZIP code or the elderly prolific gardeners who get up at 4am. Be a sniper, not a sprayer.

Identify Motivations

You know your customer better than anyone. Start by connecting the dots between buyer need and buyer action all the way through to the sale. Use these insights to learn what their problem is, what they’ve tried or haven’t tried to solve it, why they even need a solution in the first place, etc. Study and ask your customers why they buy from you. These days, there are plenty of tools to help you do this, from a quick SurveyMonkey quiz or Twitter poll to good old-fashioned in-person interviews or offering a form at checkout in return for discounts. Understand your audience before you even think about advertising to them.

Create A Profile

Who exactly is your customer? Go beyond the numbers and criteria to create a simulated person. Your target’s name is Sarah. She’s an older millennial living in Lafayette who works as an event coordinator, making $45,000 per year. Sarah buys handmade jewelry because it helps support local artists. She uses Instagram 1.5 hours per day and she’s planning a trip to Croatia this summer. The more vivid the picture you can paint of your target, the easier and more natural it is to carry a conversation, gain trust and deliver relevant value.

Be Human

You’ve heard it a thousand times: people buy from people. Although we use statistics to create a target, your audience isn’t simply a data set that you punch into Facebook. You have to remember that the 55-year-old female executive you’re targeting is actually living a full life outside of media platforms. She binges House of Cards, maintains an herb garden and takes kickboxing lessons. Put yourselves in their shoes. Start a conversation, not a shouting contest.

What if, as a brand, you appealed to the non-business facets of your target’s life: their hobbies, passions, food, entertainment, etc.? Why do we keep pushing the same messages through the same crowded channels as everyone else?

There are many aspects that go into crafting an accurate target audience. These are just a few starters to get you thinking about your audience, so don't let these points limit or alter your process. Like we said before, you know your customers better than anyone. It’s just a matter of narrowing down that group into your core “tribe” of valued people, crafting a relevant message and delivering that message with the intent to start a conversation that inspires action.

Have you narrowed down your target audience? If you'd like to learn more about establishing and reaching your audience, give us a shout at or tweet us at @Toucanads. We’d love to see how we can help!

Toucan is a New Orleans-based advertising agency.

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