Target Audience: what it is and how to talk to whoever you need!

Target Audience: What It Is And How To Talk To Whoever You Need!

Target audience is the market segment that your brand wants to reach. Strategies and campaigns are no longer created to reach everyone, but only a group of consumers with a similar demographic, behavioral, and psychographic profile. Understand now why this is important and how to define your target audience.

“Anyone who wants to please everyone ends up not pleasing anyone”. Who knew that mother’s advice would also serve as a marketing lesson?

This phrase helps us to understand the importance of defining the target audience instead of mass communication: if you aim at everyone, you don’t communicate with those who really matter.

Note that companies have realized that consumers were not a homogeneous mass. There were groups with common characteristics, which became the focus of the brands.

Thus the concept of target audience emerged: the group of consumers to whom the brand directs its strategies and campaigns, in order to meet its needs and desires and make its marketing efforts more efficient .

Now, if you want to better understand why your target audience should be planning your strategies and how to do that, follow up with us. You will know everything about:

What is Target Audience?

Target audience is a group of consumers with common characteristics that the company identifies in the market and to whom it directs its strategies and campaigns. It can also be called a target, target segment or target market.

Its definition begins with market segmentation . The market is sliced ​​into segments with a similar profile, according to demographic and behavioral characteristics (age, gender, education, lifestyle, personality, etc.) that matter to the company and influence consumption decisions .

But, of course, do not think that these characteristics come out of the mind of those who work in marketing… You need to dive into market research and analysis to get to know people.

After identifying the segments, the company selects the one (s) to target in order to reach people who have more affinity with the brand and more chances of becoming customers . Then, the marketing plan, campaigns or communication pieces are directed to this segment.

When defining the audience for an ad on Google Ads and Facebook Ads, for example, the characteristics of the target audience are selected in the media segmentation so that the campaign reaches exactly who the company wants, that is, who has the most chances to be interested in the ad and convert.

What are the Basics of Targeting Your Audience?

Market segmentation is based on a number of variables. If you say you want to sell to women over 60, for example, that definition is very broad and is closer to mass communication than to segmented communication.

Therefore, it is important to make several cuts in the market and identify which segments have more affinity with your brand. Now, let’s see what are the main targeting variables you can use to define your audience:

  • Geographic : country, region, state, city, city size, rural / urban, residential / commercial, density, climate;
  • Demographic: age, gender, family size, family life cycle (single, married with/without children, etc.), income, socioeconomic status, occupation, education, generation, religion, race, nationality;
  • Psychographic: lifestyle (healthy, minimalist, romantic, creative, militant, etc.), personality (sociable, authoritarian, conservative, etc.), values, interests, concerns;
  • Behavioral: user status (regular, potential, ex-user, etc.), the intensity of use, loyalty status, propensity stage (outside, informed, interested, intended, etc.), sensitivity to marketing (quality, price, promotion, etc.), motivation (economy, convenience, prestige, etc.).

In the case of B2B companies , the variables are different, as they refer to business characteristics. See which are the main ones:

  • Operating segment;
  • Company size;
  • Revenues;
  • Number of employees;
  • Location;
  • Market maturity.

Examples of B2C and B2B Audiences

In order to better understand the definition of the target audience, let’s take a few examples. Let’s say that a bicycle brand is launching a new line focused on trails. She could say that the target audience is people from 20 to 40 years old who like trails. Simple, right?

However, this simplification can hinder the brand: the target is very broad, and the brand will reach many people who will not be interested in the product. So, it is worth specifying:

  • Men and women, from 20 to 40 years old, married or single, without children, Nigerians, residents of Ikeja, Lagos – Nigeria, with a family income of #250,000 to #750,000, complete higher education, independent and self-confident, style adventurer and sportsman, weekend users, focused on product quality.

Did you see how it is more specific? The characteristics range from the geographic profile to the tastes and behaviors. Thus, campaigns tend to be more accurate .

See another example, now from a B2B company: CRM software is reaching the Ghanaians market and wants to launch a publicity campaign. Then, he selects the following characteristics for his target audience:

  • Micro and small companies, up to 100 employees, with revenues of up to GHS 5,000,000 per year, operate in the commerce and services segments, located in Ghana, with little maturity in the management of the customer relationship. 
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Realize that, in the case of B2B companies, the characteristics raised refer to the businesses they target. They are not personal characteristics and behaviors, which can be described in the persona (later on we will understand the difference between persona and target audience).

Why Define a Target Audience?

Defining a target audience is already common in marketing and advertising strategies. But it was not always so. Before, consumers were not thought to have different profiles, interests, and behaviors.

Mass marketing was thought to all equally. Brands just wanted the product to reach society – and that would be enough to spark their interest. 

However, over time, it became clear that much of the effort ended up wasted . It was like firing a cannon to hit a fly …

The investment in mass media was too big to attract a few interested parties, and communication with the public still failed – when wanting to talk to everyone, I didn’t speak to anyone (remember the sentence at the beginning of this text?).

Therefore, market segmentation and the target audience have transformed marketing, which now focuses on understanding consumer behavior and creating specific strategies and solutions for them.

Let’s see what benefits this change has brought to brands:

Create More Efficient Campaigns

This is perhaps the main benefit of defining the target audience. Companies are able to optimize investments and create more efficient campaigns, which do not waste efforts on those who have no chance of buying.

The case of Banco Original with Serasa Experian, for example, shows how the segmentation of the public brings efficiency: by segmenting the audience of the strategy, the cost per thousand (CPM) reduced by half, and the volume of qualified leads grew by 30%.

So, instead of killing a fly with a cannon shot, brands can choose the most efficient weapons to achieve the results.

Communicate Better with the Public

It may seem contradictory to reduce the number of people in the crosshairs to be able to sell more, right? But it is this market segmentation that makes you communicate better with the public.

By adjusting the crosshairs in a group of consumers, you can:

  • To better understand the characteristics of the target audience;
  • Bring the brand closer to the segment;
  • Use language that speaks to all members;
  • Adopt an approach that meets your needs and wants.

On the other hand, the consumer feels understood by the brand and identifies with it.

Seize Better Opportunities

The definition of target audience requires brands to place their magnifying glasses on the market. Research and analysis should deepen the knowledge about the consumer and the competitors.

In this investigation, it is possible to identify market segments that are being poorly served by current solutions or that are not even having their needs heard.

So, there is a valuable opportunity – creating a solution that addresses these needs – with a high potential for adherence by the target audience.

Define a Unique and Relevant Position

The definition of a market positioning is only possible after choosing the target audience. This process consists of conquering a unique and valued space in the minds of consumers, which only happens when you know the audience well and get close to them.

The characteristics of the public support the development of the value proposition and the construction of the brand, with the values ​​aligned with consumers and the differentials they value.

Generate Differentiation From Competitors

In the current market, the goal is not just another brand, but the brand that is remembered when consumers think about their product category.

But it is difficult to do this in a mass way. Consumers are different, and you can only win over an audience that aligns with your brand values and understands your value proposition. When you win over these people, the competition doesn’t stand a chance with them.

Therefore, the definition of the target audience and brand positioning are also weapons to differentiate themselves from competitors.

What is the Difference between Target Audience and Persona?

Target audience and persona are marketing tools that look at the market and define who the brand should communicate with. Therefore, many people confuse the concepts.

But we will explain the difference between the target audience and persona so that you know how to use both concepts in your strategies.

The target audience is the definition of a market segment with common characteristics, for whom the brand directs its strategies. The persona, on the other hand, is the personalization of the ideal customer, through the description of a character that represents the characteristics, profile and behaviors of consumers in whom the brand aims.

Even when it comes to behavioral and psychographic issues, the description of the target audience is generally more general and only raises specific characteristics. This is one of the main criticisms that the target audience’s approach suffers.

The persona, in turn, brings an in-depth description of the character’s profile, about his habits, tastes, interests, pains, and needs. Therefore, it covers all the complexity of the human being, which is not limited to a superficial description of characteristics.

So, realize that there is also a conceptual difference there: while the target audience is a target that must be reached, the persona represents the audience with which the brand wants to interact.

For this reason, the target audience is usually used at the strategic level, in the definition of market positioning, or even in the segmentation of paid media. The persona is used in content marketing, social media, and relationship strategies that interact with the public.

In the case of B2B companies, the difference between target audience and persona is more evident. While the target audience aims at business characteristics, the persona describes the profile of the person with whom the brand will communicate (the decision maker or the user who works within the company, for example).

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Therefore, you do not have to choose between one and the other: target audience and persona are different tools that can be used in a complementary way in brand strategies.

5 Important Tips When Defining Your Target Audience

Now, let’s start to see how to define the target audience of your business in the best way. Later on, you will see the step by step, but first, we will see some essential tips that make this process more efficient. Let’s go to them:

Use Real Data, Not Insights

There is no point in choosing a target audience based on what you think will work. This is a very common mistake that companies make. The result of this is that you will create products and strategies that have no resonance in the market. 

But market segmentation requires research. You need to access real data to understand your audience and inform your decisions.

Look at the Market First

Another common mistake of many entrepreneurs is to create a product before understanding if there is a latent need for it. However, a good entrepreneur does the opposite: he first identifies an opportunity in the market and, from there, creates ways (a product, a strategy, a business area) to pursue it.

This look at the market must be done through research on consumers and their needs, but also on competitors and the segments they already serve. There is the data you need to identify valuable opportunities .

Therefore, the definition of a target audience that represents a good opportunity for the brand requires that you study the market first, perceive unmet segments and only then develop the solution.

Be as Specific as Possible

The target audience is already a broad and generic description of a segment of consumers. So, the more you can detail the characteristics of the target audience, the more tangible it becomes to guide brand strategies.

Try to go through all the bases of segmentation that we presented before (geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioral) to create a complete description.

Keep your Audience Up to Date

Many companies define the target audience in the business plan that is never reviewed again … However, the pace of change in today’s world requires constant updating!

If your target audience is the same as 5 or 10 years ago, you may be targeting a segment that doesn’t even exist anymore… So keep an eye on the market and keep regular surveys to update your target audience whenever you notice significant changes consumer profile and behavior. So the brand always remains relevant.

How to Define the Target Audience?

The time has come to understand how to put everything we saw into practice. Defining the target audience is a process that goes from analyzing the market to creating strategies for each target segment.

So, now see the step by step to define your company’s target audience and the questions that can help in this process:

1. Research the Market and the Current Scenario

The first step is to analyze the market. As we said, it is necessary to understand the behavior of consumers, the performance of competitors, and the macroenvironment scenario to make an X-ray of the market :

  • What are the behaviors and consumption habits in your segment? What are the needs of consumers? What needs are not being met?
  • How do competitors operate? How do they segment the market? What characteristics matter to them? Which segments serve? What position do they adopt?
  • What are the main social, environmental, cultural, and technological trends? How can this scenario affect consumers and your business?

These questions will help you to see opportunities. This should be done through research using data from primary sources (interviews and questionnaires with the public, for example) and secondary sources (research institutes, newspapers and academic papers, for example).

If you already sell a product and already have an audience of consumers, it is also important to approach these people to understand their profile and behaviors. They will help to profile your target audience.

2. Know your Business and your Product

After looking at the market, it’s time to look inside. You also need to know your company and its products in depth to understand what solutions they deliver. In this way, it is possible to align them with the market opportunities perceived in the previous step. Ask yourself:

  • What is the brand value proposition? And the products?
  • Why would a person buy your product?
  • What problem does your product or service solve?
  • Is solving this problem relevant to the consumer?
  • What benefits does it deliver to the consumer?

The value proposition must offer a clear, concise, and transparent idea about how the brand can contribute to the consumer’s life. For example, Google Drive’s value proposition is to securely store files in the cloud. Simple, clear, and solves a need.

Google Drive’s value proposition
Google Drive value proposition

3. Divide the Market into Segments

This step consists of segmenting the market. After you have an overview of the market, the consumer, and your product, it is possible to define the bases of segmentation to divide the market.

Take up the variables we mentioned at the beginning (geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioral) and start to profile the public that consumes your product or service category.

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Let’s say you sell toothpaste. People of all ages consume (age, demographic variable). But some people look for toothpaste to whiten their teeth, others look for the lowest price and others want a product with a pleasant taste (motivation, behavioral variable).

So, from these variables, you could already create segments: young people from 20 to 30 years old looking for low prices and adults from 50 to 60 years old who want to whiten their teeth, for example. You can still cross these variables with others and generate multiple market segments.

Divide the Market into Segments
Source: Nutshell

4. Identify the Attractiveness of the Segments

After dividing the market, it’s time to analyze which segments have the greatest potential for your brand. But how to do that? It is not an easy definition, but a few questions can help answer which segment should be your target:

  • Does the segment already have its needs met by competitors?
  • Is it big enough to generate profit?
  • Is it growing? Won’t it disappear in no time?
  • Is it homogeneous? Will people respond in a similar way to marketing?
  • Can the brand reach this segment with marketing strategies?
  • How are the entry and exit barriers?

Ideally, the segment should be measurable, so that you can assess the market potential it represents. But it is not always possible to count, especially when we segment by psychographic and behavioral characteristics, which are not so accurate.

But you can use data from institutes (IBGE, for example) and market research to get close to the number of people who make up the segment.

5. Select the Target Segment (one or more)

From the analysis of the attractiveness of the segments, you must define the target audience of your brand. When making this definition, it is important to document the description of the characteristics so that the entire team has knowledge and access whenever they need it.

The same brand can work with more than one segment, as long as it creates specific strategies for each one of them. When the brand has several products in its portfolio, each product can be directed to a different segment.

Take the example of Coca-Cola, which offers products for the most different consumer profiles. But each product line has specific strategies for communicating with its target audience.

6. Define the Positioning and Strategies for each Target Segment

After defining the target audience, it is possible to trace the market positioning. If the brand works with more than one target audience, it must define the positioning for each segment, so that it can outline specific strategies for each audience.

These strategies refer to the marketing mix (the 4 Ps of marketing ) – Price, Product, Place, and Promotion -, which define how the brand will present itself to the market and connect with its target audience.

Tools to Help Define the Target Audience

In this process of defining the target audience, you can count on the help of tools. They help especially in the stages of market analysis and segment attractiveness. See which ones can be useful now:

Google Analytics and Social Analytics Tools

Google Analytics is the leading data analysis tool web – and is free. It should be used to better understand the audience that already follows your brand, as it generates data on interactions with your site.

You can identify the public’s profile, characteristics and latent interests . A good idea is to analyze the words searched in the internal search of the site, which represent subjects of interest to your visitors that you may not yet answer.

The social analytics tools, which social networks generally offer for business accounts, also help to know your audience’s profile and the subjects that matter most.

Google Trends

Google Trends shows the search trends in a given period. That is, you can identify which subjects are attracting interest and whether they are likely to grow in the coming months. This analysis is important to identify market opportunities and the potential of a segment.

Online forms

Market research with consumers, which initiates the segmentation process, can be done over the internet. There are several form tools, such as TypeformGoogle Forms, and Survey Monkey, which allow you to ask questions directly to the public and better understand their needs.

Research Institutes

Market research can and should also rely on data collected by third parties. The STATISTA, for example, has comprehensive data on the World’s market data (profile, income, consumption, etc.) that help profile the public and to quantify market segments.

Audience Insights

Facebook has a huge and very rich database of the population. This data set is available in the Audience Insights tool.

You can analyze information about everyone on Facebook or about people connected to your page. There, you can cross-check location, gender, marital status, education, position, interests, lifestyle, among many others.

You can even capture more specific information, such as “people who are in a new relationship” or “people who live far from the family”.

This data helps to better understand the market, the profile, and the interests of the public, and can even be saved to create a targeted campaign on Facebook Ads.

The target audience is not a mere description of the characteristics of a group of consumers. For this marketing tool to really work, it depends on a lot of research and an accurate look at the market. Only then will you find the best opportunities and target the right audience to succeed in marketing strategies.

Now, remember that we said that the target audience and persona can complement each other? So, after you have outlined your target audience, use our guide to create the personas for your marketing strategies!

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