by Emily Coogan

We can't say it enough times: knowing your audience is KEY.
If you don't have a clear understanding of who you want to attract, chances are you are missing out on potential consumers and advocates of your brand. Arriving at this revelation requires analysing the customers you wish to engage, looking at their needs, occupations, and desires to develop a relevant, targeted strategy.
Defining and UNDERSTANDING your target audience is a key skill for business owners, imperative to fostering customer connections and attracting the attention of the appropriate market. Optimal retailing requires persuading, not pushing, customers to engage with your business. This is where knowing your audience makes the most significant difference, ensuring more direction and compelling messaging relevant to your ideal customer's specific needs.
What is a target audience?
Selling products and creating loyal customers is contingent on the clarity of your business strategy. Any plan is best implemented with a target customer in mind - that is, a profile of the ideal persona you are trying to reach. Your target audience is a set of individual end-users with shared characteristics and desires that your business can serve. Those individuals are most likely to respond positively to your branding. They may be identifiable by age, cultural traits, attitudes, geography, occupation, and more - depending on who will align with your brand and how you wish to position your products or services. As such, targeted retailing will influence all facets of your business, including branding, marketing, campaigns, collections, and communication of all kinds.
A clear target audience means you can narrow your focus and concentrate on what you're good at, differentiating your brand from competitors in the process. As a result, you will be better equipped to appeal to the intended recipient of your branding and improve your products and services, clarify your vision, manage customer expectations, and tailor your objectives to particular characteristics.
How do I find my target audience?
Identifying your target market is a worthwhile process, requiring you to ask yourself WHAT you are selling, WHO you are selling to and WHY they should buy from you.
First and foremost, step into consumers' shoes and define your product or service from that perspective. Then, define the customer who will seek out, use, and benefit from what you have to offer. Break down the needs of those customers by conducting meaningful market research, competitor analysis, scanning industry news and trends, and surveying ideal customers and demographics.
But, pland, why can't I sell to everyone?
Passively selling to all consumers does not cut the mustard in today's market, where we want to bond with the brands we wear, use, and frequent. Selling to "everyone" requires generalised communication strategies, which risks the clarity of your branding.
Businesses that attempt to market to a large, varied market of customers struggle to create campaigns that land, failing to cater to specific requirements of any ideal customers they may have. This is referred to as 'mass marketing', a process whereby businesses produce a broad yet singular message to as many consumers as possible through any medium available. While this may increase some level of brand awareness across certain groups, there is no guarantee that those groups would seek out your product, service, or brand in the first place. On the other hand, knowing your target audience focuses on knowing the customer and creating value for them on a more personal level, which subsequently influences purchase decisions. This kind of connection cannot be replicated via mass or vague marketing.
Selling to everyone may be tempting, but it is no more than a vague strategy that does not guarantee reach, nor does it allow your business to reach its full potential. As the adage goes, if you're selling to everyone, you're selling to no one.
When creating your ideal customer personas, segmenting your market is the way to go. Segmentation requires evaluating your ideal customer base according to four major factors:
  1. Demographic - age, gender, ethnicity, income, and more. These characteristics do not necessarily allude to the personality of your customer, rather cultural or generational values.
  2. Geographic - the most self-explanatory factor, looking at where your customer is located. Are they local or overseas? Do they live in a metropolitan area or rurally? Are there any geographical divides or cultural differences to bear in mind?
  3. Psychographic - interests, affinities, goals, hobbies, opinions, emotional responses - what people believe, feel, and think. There is quite a bit of wriggle room here to truly carve out your ideal customer.
  4. Behavioural - the way people act, their habits, how they interact with businesses, and the benefits sought from your product or service.
To determine the persona that you wish to target, analyse your existing customers and the audience of competitors. Use data and market research and social media and retail analytics to determine the market you are attracting compared to that which you want to attract moving forward.
We suggest starting broad and working your way inwards until you get to the nitty-gritty specifics - begin by looking at details such as age, occupation, and income, and finish with purchase habits and benefits gained for a particular individual. Importantly, refrain from stereotyping or making assumptions to the disadvantage of your target audience.
The take-away
Customer connection evolves with coherent communication across all platforms, creative strategy, and marketing collateral. The time is now to channel your efforts into the most targeted strategies, fully optimises your resources, time, and budget to position your brand in the eyes of your ideal market. Meaningful marketing is the cherry on top of thoughtful branding, allowing you to speak directly to and resonate with a defined audience. Brand recognition is one thing, but catering personally to your ideal customers is another, creating loyal customers who just keep coming back.
If you enjoyed this piece, make your next read: The Power of Business Collaboration.

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