Finding Your Target Audience: The Ultimate Guide
The beloved target audience.
The wind beneath your entrepreneurial sail, the ROI on your Facebook Ad spend.
Quite simply, your target audience are the people you want to pay attention to you and who are going to end up buying your product or service.
You can’t serve everyone and you’d be doing a disservice to yourself and the customer/client if you tried.
I mean imagine if Batman tried to save Gotham AND Metropolis.
If you’re worried about losing out on business by narrowing down on who you’re serving, rest assured, you’re more likely to sell more of your product or service.
Pst! This post contains affiliate links! That means I get a commission from any purchases you make (at no extra cost to you). I’ll only recommend dope stuff that i’ve tested and truly find valuable. Scouts honor.
Take my family for example (yup, it’s analogy time)...
I grew up in a household with 5 other siblings. We never had an official chore chart or assigned duties, but it was an expectation that everyone helped out around the house.
Whenever we heard a general unhappy request for someone to come downstairs and clean the kitchen, we all magically couldn’t hear (sorry mom and dad).
For results they had to single one of the children out and call us by name otherwise we’d all continue to insist we already helped enough and no one would go do it.
It’s like shouting “hey, come here” into a crowd and expecting someone to actually come to you. They might turn their heads to see why you’re yelling like a crazy person, but it’s unlikely someone is going to pay any real attention to you.
But if you shout “Hey! Lady with the 2 kids who’s about to have her 3rd baby, come here please!”
Well...that won’t work in a real crowd either, BUT in the marketing world it would.
You see where I’m going here?
By targeting someone specifically, you’re more likely to see results.
And with this 2019 update you’re going to find that I’m tossing out the typical “customer avatar” model. You don’t NEED to know what they eat for dinner, if they prefer blue over green, or in some cases, not even their income level. There are better questions you should be focusing on instead. I’ll break it down further as you read :)
So first things first: niche down.
Don’t roll your eyes! This step is important. You need to be very clear about what you do, and this is not the same as figuring out your target audience.
You might teach yoga, but there’s all kinds of yoga types that you can offer and specialize in. A quick google search will show you there are at least 14 different types of yoga, and within those types there are subcategories!
So what do you do in general? And then take that and specialize in it.
Example: Marketing could be further niched into…
Brick and mortar marketing specialist
You could further niche it down to a general category of who you serve, either by demographic, value/beliefs, or industry.
For example my niche is based off of a belief: Sales and funnel copywriting services for female coaches and course creators who refuse to use fear based tactics to sell their product/service.
Someone else could serve to focus a community based off of their religious beliefs like these planners.
Maybe you choose to cater to the LGBTQ+ community or women who’ve become empty nesters. Maybe you know the stomping grounds of New York and specialize in helping people who live in NY.
The possibilities are literally endless. Think “what do I want to be known for?”
If you get really specific you might feel the urge to widen your net out of fear that you’ll miss potential sales but the beauty of specialty is you get to charge more for your expertise.
So instead of social media manger < Instagram manager
Instead of healthy meal prep coach < keto friendly meal prep coach
Basically, if you’ve already niched down, look at what you wrote 4 more times and see if you can specialize further.
There’s a lot of noise in the online space. A specific niche that you excel in will help you stand out.
But, for the sake of this post we’ll pretend your niche is “online prenatal yoga instructor”.
So now, you know what you’re an expert in. Let’s jump into building the rest. Let’s talk about them. As in, your target audience.
You might be tempted to say “well, I do prenatal yoga for mothers. That’s who I want to serve. Obviously dads aren’t going to benefit from prenatal yoga classes. What more do you want from me?!”.
You’re partly right. But your target audience is in the details.
So you know you want to serve moms online. You need to further narrow down your audience because...
You don’t want to waste your efforts (and money if you’re using paid ads) marketing to people who will not buy come hell or high water. It might be because they have -10% interest in yoga, because they already have a good understanding of prenatal yoga, or for whatever reason. But they don’t want it.
Consider who’s going to actually need your course.
In the case of a prenatal yoga course, you’d consider if the course is designed for experienced yogi’s, people who are interested but just starting, new moms, etc. Those details will matter in your copy and how you position your offer.
You want everything in your sales funnel to speak directly to them.
When they’re reading the sales page, your opt-in, the emails, etc, you want them to feel like you’re speaking straight to them.
“OMG that’s exactly how I feel”
“It’s like she knows what’s inside my head”
“We’re obviously spirit animal friends”
Those are the kind of things you want your potential clients/customers to think when they’re reading your blog posts, watching a live Facebook video, or consuming any other of your content.
It’s far easier to understand how and what they’re thinking and feelings when you’re zoned in and targeted on a very specific person.
But how specific should I get?
I mentioned this earlier but knowing their favorite color isn’t going to help you sell.
Think of it this way: if you’re selling a 6 week prenatal yoga course for expecting first time moms, are you going to exclude all the moms who fit this criteria but prefer yellow because your avatar profile says your ideal client frequently wears blue?
Nope. It sounds silly. So it’s just as silly to spend time thinking out it.
The purpose of a target audience exercise is to make the person you’re selling to more real and concrete, so you can connect and better market to them. You can do this without agonizing over every teensy weensy detail like what they eat for breakfast (unless you’re in the food industry...that question might be useful).
Get specific with the details like what they’re struggling with, what social media channels they hang out on, what they’re passionate about, etc.
What you don’t necessarily need to focus on? If they prefer chihuahua's over baby pits, if they spent their weekends at the mall or theater, what their mother’s maiden name and social security number might be.
Identify your target audience and create a customer profile or an “avatar” based off of things like what they want, what they value and how they seek out help, and what they’d expect from you.
Basically create an imaginary friend.
You might end up with a few different avatars, especially if you’re selling different things, and that’s okay.
A Facebook ads manager might have a course for business owners who have never ran a Facebook ad before and a course for business owners who’ve run several ads but what to improve their ad spend.
In cases like those, you’ll have multiple customer profiles. However, they shouldn’t be so radically different that it looks like two different businesses. So a Facebook ad manager isn’t typically going to market to people who want more Twitter followers as well.
So let’s get down to identifying our (your) target.
Targeting by Demographics
Demographics is usually where people start with their audience and then never extend past that.
Demographics might play a part but it’s not the end all-be all and not the main focus but here are a few ideas that you might consider.
Their age (because a 17 year old boy posting “YOLO” pics on Snapchat have significantly different buying patterns then a 37 year old mother of 4)
Gender (Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars)
Income (maybe your offer is only for 6+ figure business owners wanting to reach 7 figures)
Other questions like location, occupation, marital status, and how many children they have can be relevant too.
Questions like location will matter say, if you’re selling a traveling/tourism guide for France- if they already live in France? They’re not your audience.
Marital status will matter if you’re a relationship coach trying to help people find love- if they’re already married? They’re not your audience.
Make sense? Next up…
Social Media Hangouts
You’ll want to also identify where they virtually hang out. Social media is here to stay so it’s crucial to make room for it in your business.
Do they frequent Twitter threads, Facebook groups, Pinterest? Almost all these social media platforms will have your target audience in some form but some are more tailored and user friendly for other businesses than others.
If you’re a wedding planner, you might fare better with marketing on a visual platform such as Instagram and Pinterest as supposed to Twitter.
If you’re a local bakery, your marketing efforts might see better results from Facebook and Whatsapp as supposed to Pinterest.
A life coach might do better on Youtube and Linkedin as supposed to Snapchat.
Having a hard time deciding? Well, which one do you enjoy? Or which platform are you already seeing traffic from? At the end of the day, pick a platform, master it, and then you can move on to the next.
Targeting by Psychology: WHY will they buy?
Now that you have a general customer profile, you can research their psychological patterns and behaviors. This will help you identify what will most motivate them to buy your product/service.
Ask questions like:
What are they struggling with the most?
What skills do they want to acquire/learn?
What’s frustrating to them?
What kind of results do they want to see?
What are their goals?
What would their biggest objection be to buying your product/service?
You could take an educated guess, but you know what they say about assuming...
So if you’d rather not guess, here are places you can get answers to some of these questions.
Where to find answers to your market research questions when you don’t have an audience of your own?
If you already have a general idea of what you’re selling, Reddit is a great way to figure out what they’re struggling with, what problems they need solved, and what they want more information on.
If it’s your own Facebook group, go right ahead and ask them. Have them answer a specific question in their introduction post, include the questions in your pinned posts/announcements in your group and encourage them to respond in the comments, or publish a survey post.
You can also ask 3 questions when they first request to join. This is a great opportunity to get responses to some of your market research questions.
(Quick tip: at the end of the week copy and paste the responses into a google excel document and reference it when you need some inspiration on what service to offer, landing page copy, or blog/podcast/Facebook live content.)
If you don’t have a group? Stalk some other active Facebook groups relevant to your business.
Keep in mind, the group was built with a bunch of people that are someone else's target audience which means the answers won’t always be relevant to your business.
If you’re borrowing the audience from someone else’s group, be respectful and don’t be spammy. Read the rules to make sure “market research” questions are allowed, don’t link drop and run, and contribute to the group in a meaningful way first.
Facebook snitches you out now too. It’ll announce you’re a new member the first time you post. It’s sort of an icky look for your first contribution to a group to be a link to your survey.
You could also just use the groups search bar to see if any threads come up about your topic. For example, in the Boss Mom group, if you type in the search bar “mindset” you’ll see several threads with discussions around that subject.
Peep The Competition.
You’re most likely not the first to think of a product or service, nor will you be the last. Most likely there is someone out there a few steps ahead of you.
Creep on your competitors a bit and see what services they’re offering and how they’re helping their audience (which is most likely very similar to yours).
Now this isn’t the green light to be a copycat obviously but this can give you some insight on your audience and how you can help them.
You could also use Buzzsumo to find out what popular content is being published and searched for. You only have about 5 free daily searches before it asks if you’d like to upgrade to Buzzsumo Pro, so unless you plan to pay, make those searches count or wait 24 hours.
Your Email List:
If they’re on your email list they’re most likely already somewhat interested in what you have to offer, so they’re the perfect people to ask for the 411.
(Don’t have one yet? Check out this post here)
You can include a quick question in your welcome email series at the bottom (and when they respond it automatically white lists your emails! No more spam box for you!)
Ask something easy and open ended like: “Hit reply and let me know what your biggest struggle with X is!”
You could send out a link to a survey (Surveymonkey or Google sheets are great to use for making surveys). Don’t make them too long though. People get lazy and if there are too many questions, they’ll give up before they finish.
You can also make it insanely easy for them using a product like SurveyGizmo to embed the survey directly in your email. You’re more likely to get more responses since you’ve made it convenient.
(GIF sourced from SurveyGizmo)
Time to build your avatar based off of these responses.
They’ve come to you because you’re an expert in ___________________________( your niche). Insert:
They’re biggest fears about their situation (the famous “what keeps them up at night” question)
What they’re hoping to achieve from following/working with you
What are they passionate about? Why is this so important to them?
What’s it like working with them? (are they hands on and engaged with the project? Do they give you complete control? Are they completely new to working with someone in your niche? Have they worked with someone in your industry already?)
etc etc. Add as much as you need to in order to get a good picture of them. A good indication that you’ve built a detailed avatar? You’re message feels easy to communicate.
Alright. We’ve got that part finished, not here’s where personality comes in.
insert your brand.
Get ready for some hurt feelings.
Not everybody is going to like you.
I know for a fact that not everybody likes me. It’s just how life goes.
You vibe with some people more than others.
And some people will vibe with brands more than others.
Your brand is your chance to attract not only the people who need your talents/gifts/services, but who will want to work with you as well, and vice versa.
There’s much that goes into branding and positioning it to your target audience and since I’m no branding expert so I won’t go into much detail however, what I do know is if you’re a dog trainer trying to attract dog owners, a website filled with chic office stock photos and rose gold trimmed Instagram posts isn’t going to draw them in.
You’re brand “voice” or personality is one aspect of this. To get an idea of what your brand voice is, check out this free quiz.
Read More About Finding Your Brand Voice Here
Alice from Wonderlass does a fantastic job at branding that speaks exactly to the kind of people she would resonate with.
Now mix it all together and you have your target audience!
I know I’ve probably just overloaded you with a crap ton of information, but please take note of this:
Identifying your target audience isn’t a “do-it-once-and-be-done” thing.
As your business grows, and transforms, so will your audience. You need to frequently revisit your customer avatars.
Marie Forleo gives a perfect example.
When she first started coaching, many of her videos were uncensored and as she grew, she realized she was attracting a lot of people with families and parents who were often listening or watching her content with children in close vicinity (if those kids are anything like mine that means smack dab in your lap).
She toned down the cursing and started adding notifications in the beginning of her video’s when there were potty mouth words (hehe) to cater to her new audience as she grew
So as your grow, be sure to come back and take a look at your audience and make sure you’re still serving the right people.
Hooray! You’ve successfully identified your target audience and now you’re well on your way to catching their attention and growing an amazing business.