Your business is built. You’ve chosen your products or services. You’ve worked out your marketing budget and you know what you’re promoting. You’re ready to get started on your first campaign… aren’t you?

There’s one more crucial step you need to take before you get in touch with your marketing agency. You need to know who it is that you’ll be aiming your services at. Without this knowledge, you run the risk of a lot of your advertising spend going to waste.

Before we get into the details, there’s something we’d like to clear up. You’ve probably heard the terms ‘target audience’ and ‘target market’ thrown around quite a lot, but do you know what the difference is?


Target market vs. target audience

Simply put, your target market is the set of consumers that you want to buy your products or sign up for your services.

Your target audience, therefore, is a group or segment within that market that is served by advertisements.

So your target market will generally be set as a certain group of people, but your target audience within that market may vary as you run different campaigns around different products or aimed at different subsets.


Why it’s important to determine your target market

Research suggests that $37 billion a year is wasted due to ads failing to engage the correct target market. Small businesses especially can’t afford to waste money showing ads to people who aren’t interested in the thing they have to sell. That’s why it’s so important to set out and determine who is most likely to be interested in your products and services before you even begin to think about advertising.


What is a target market?

Your target market is the people who are most likely to be interested in the product or service that you are offering.

For some companies, this will be broader than others. For example, if you sell toothpaste, your audience will be most of the adult population. But if you sell specialist toothpaste for children’s teeth, your target market will be the parents and caregivers who buy the toothpaste for their children.


3 steps to finding your target market

  1. Do your research. Who are your existing customers? What niches do they fit into?
  2. Check who the competition is targeting, and see if you can side-step them with a different niche
  3. Put your product or service under a microscope. Think about what you’re offering, and who would benefit from it the most. Of those people, who are most likely to actually buy it?


What to think about when determining your target market

You probably had a good idea of who you’d be targeting when you set your business up. You might know them, or you might even be them. But it’s still a good idea to see if there are any other niches within your target market that your products or services might appeal to.

If your business has been established for a while, then the first thing to do will be to look at who your current customer base is made up of. Do this by looking at the demographics that make up your social media following, your website visitors (you can use Google Analytics to give you an idea of this), your newsletter subscribers or the people who phone you up or come into your premises. If there is any one group that stands out more than the others, this is a good place to start with your targeting.

On the other hand, if you know that there are plenty of other companies targeting that same market, then it might be worth seeing if you can refine this even further. Try and find a niche that is not currently being served, therefore allowing you to reduce the amount of competition vying for the attention of those customers.


How to find your target market online and in real life

Once you’ve defined who your target market is, the next step will be working out where to find them. Thinking about where the people you want to engage with spend their time will be key in deciding where and how to advertise to them. This applies to both online time and more analogue pursuits. Whilst we do spend a lot of our time on the internet these days, there’s still plenty of evidence that traditional forms of advertising media are still hugely important, if your budget will allow.

If your target market is, for example, young professionals, then you’ll want to think about where they will be spending their time, both online and off. Where are the local places they’re likely to work, and how do they get there? What are the busy commuter routes that they’re likely to travel? Should you be placing your ads on buses or outside particular shops on the high street? Where do they spend their lunch hours and what do they do at the weekend?

You’ll also need to think about where they spend their time on the internet. Every social media platform has a different demographic that prefers it. These days, you’re more likely to find over-50s on Facebook, millennials on Instagram and Gen Z on TikTok. Pinterest users tend to be women, and the audience on Twitter is more likely to be male.

But choosing the right social media channel for your target market isn’t that straightforward. Certain niches have found their community on particular platforms. For example, crafters of all ages love Instagram for its visual sharing opportunity. Brides-to-be can be found planning their big day on Pinterest, and food fanatics can be found sharing their favourite recipes on TikTok.

The best way to find out where your chosen market spends its time is to get onto each platform and start searching. Think of other brands that are similar to yours, and look to see where they have accounts. If they’ve got large followings and more importantly, good engagement in certain places, then that’s probably a good place for you to set up too.

Of course, the web isn’t just limited to social platforms. Don’t forget to think about where those platforms might lead onto, and then find out what digital advertising opportunities exist there too.

There is nothing quite so important when it comes to putting your marketing strategy together as determining exactly who it is that you’re targeting. This is just a brief introduction to how you might go about doing that.


If you’re still unsure about the best place to advertise to reach your ideal customers, why not get in touch and see how we can help? Alternatively, you can sign up for our newsletter for monthly hints, tips and tricks to navigating everything digital marketing.

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