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As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, defining your brand positioning provides a set of advantages for obtaining success in your business; like defining whom you are as a brand, differentiating yourself from competitors, and clarifying your value proposition, but those aren’t the only advantages. Positioning drastically increases the effectiveness of your marketing initiatives, especially when you have a clear understanding of your target audience(s).

Before you begin thinking of the specifics of your target audiences, it’s important to understand why segmenting the consumer market into audience profiles is necessary in the first place. A target audience profile is simply a specific group of customers most likely to respond positively to your promotions, products, and services.

Often, your target audience analysis will be based on specific factors like gender, age, location, marital status, education level, income and so on. For instance, if you’re a cosmetic company that specializes in loud & vibrant colors, there’s a good chance you’ll want to appeal to women between the ages of 16-35. Understanding your audience matters!

So, why is defining your target audience important? The simple answer to that question is that understanding your audience provides the ability to create messaging that connects, engages, and provokes action. Without it, the messaging and mediums used to promote your product or service may not be as effective with one demographic as it is with another. Defining your target audience provides direction for your company and enables the ability to create messaging that builds stronger customer relationships.

So how do you approach defining your target audience? Here are a few things to keep mind when starting the process.

Consumer Needs
The first step to identifying your target audience is figuring out whom your brand is built for. Similarly, the key with positioning is given by what your brand can do for your consumers. As such, positioning allows you to find that unique need your brand can satisfy.

This helps narrow down your target audience because you have already identified their primary need. Further steps to segment your audience more clearly are:

  • Make a list of specific needs that can be solved by your product or service.
  • Also, make a list of secondary needs that can be solved by your product or service.
  • Make sure the needs defined fit your positioning strategy, if not eliminate the ones that do not.
  • The secondary needs you end up keeping define separate audience categories.

Audience Categories
There are other audience categories apart from the ones we’ve identified before:

  • Internal audiences: c-suite executives, employees, investors, etc.
  • External audiences: consumer market, local community, vendors, media, etc.

These audiences seem very distinct from one another, which makes it difficult for your sales and marketing teams to understand them. But once you have a positioning strategy in place, you will have what it takes to comprehend your audiences, instead of going through mounds of research.

To define your audience categories, ask yourself the following:

  • What makes these categories similar?
  • What makes them different?
  • What makes my brand unique to my employees/ stockholders/ the local community etc.?
  • What can I do to satisfy their main needs and wants?

Audience Characteristics
Once you have your audience categorized, you can move on to the next step in defining your target, which is outlining their characteristics. Apart from quantitative and qualitative research, this process can differ based on the approach taken by your team or outside consultant.

The most common approach is imagining an archetype for the audience. This is achieved by taking into account everything regarding this person, starting with their name, age, gender, ethnicity, education level, income level, preferences and values to name a few.

The benefit of previously defining your brand positioning helps in this process because it gives you a map of your archetypal consumer’s mind. You know precisely why they need your brand so that you can infer with increased precision other details like their values and desires.

Your Competition’s Target Audience
Now that you have clearly defined your audience categories and characteristics, you can turn your attention to ways of attracting the audiences of your competitors. With understanding what your target audiences want and need as well as how you can deliver on them, you can also ask the same about your competition and their audience. So if you’re wanting to lure business from your competition focus on the following:

  • Their audiences primary and secondary needs.
  • How the competition is addressing those needs.
  • The compatibility between these needs and your brand.
  • How/ if you can address these needs better than your competition.

If you have figured out the needs of your competition’s target and how your competition addresses them, you have figured out their communication strategy. That, in turn, helps you position your brand more effectively.

Conclusion
The ability to confidently define your target audience is a direct result of understanding your brand positioning. So to recap, start with understanding consumer needs, next segment your audience into categories, and lastly, define your audience characteristics as it assists in creating engaging messaging. The importance of identifying your target audience is often overlooked, but if prioritized and done correctly, it can be the difference in whether your business sinks or swims.

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