One of the most important steps in creating a business strategy is choosing a target audience. Your target audience is the group of people you’re primarily trying to reach with a given product, type of content, or website. When you better understand your target audience, you can provide them with much more relevant material, and increase your likelihood of winning new sales and long-term customer loyalty.
But how can you make sure your chosen audience is “correct,” or that you understand them? Oftentimes, new business owners and inexperienced marketers end up making critical audience targeting mistakes without even realizing it. Fortunately, most of these mistakes are preventable.
The Importance of Working With a Consultant
One of the best ways to prevent audience targeting mistakes is to work with a global management consulting firm. Experienced consultants will provide you with the resources, insights, and direction necessary to help you determine your ideal target audience—and find the right ways to target them. They’ll be capable of providing you with an external, unbiased opinion, and they’ll have the industry familiarity necessary to save you time.
The Most Common Audience Targeting Mistakes
If you choose to label, research, and target an audience on your own, or as part of a marketing team, you’ll need to be on the lookout for these high-impact mistakes—and avoid them at all costs:
- Targeting a market that’s too broad. Many new business owners make the mistake of targeting an audience that’s far too broad. The temptation here is rooted in a valuable idea: try to reach as many people as possible. However, if you name your audience as simply “everyone,” your messaging is going to be so vague that most people will find it irrelevant. You have to narrow down your audience to a more specific segment.
- Targeting a market that’s too narrow. That said, it’s also possible to target an audience segment that’s far too narrow. If you drill down far enough, you’ll eventually get an audience segment that’s too small to be relevant. The demographic factors you define will be so complex that reaching this type of person is nearly impossible—and even if you manage to reach them, they won’t provide an ample stream of revenue. Try to strike the balance here.
- Reaching people who can’t buy from you. Just because a target audience might be interested in what you have to sell doesn’t mean they’re going to be valuable. It’s possible, and a major mistake, to target people who can’t actually buy from you. For example, while toddlers and young children may have the “pester power” to influence their parents’ buying decisions, marketing to them directly isn’t always a good idea.
- Defining a market too vaguely. When you’re defining a target audience, you need to be as specific as possible. It needs to be clear to you and to your team if you’re going to execute on your strategy properly. If your terms are too vague, or if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re not going to be able to market effectively.
- Focusing too much on demographic factors. Most people immediately think of potential target audiences in terms of demographic factors, like age, gender, and education level. While these can be valuable, if you focus too much on them, you’ll end up neglecting the psychological profiles of your target audience members. Think less about what they look like, and more about how they think and make decisions.
- Relying on broad segments instead of personalization. It’s easy to segment an audience into distinct categories, but if you’re going to be successful, your business also needs to think about personalization. How are you going to offer individualized product and service options to your customers? Broad segments can help you in your marketing endeavors, but it isn’t the be-all, end-all.
- Refusing to develop customer personas. Customer personas are valuable tools not just to help you solidify your idea of your target audience, but also to explain that target audience to new marketers on your team. This isn’t just an empty exercise; it will force you to follow through on your ideas, and conceptualize them in live practice.
- Relying on instincts rather than research. It’s tempting to define your target audience based on how you think they operate, rather than how they actually operate, but you should avoid this. Always base your ideas and conclusions on objective, provable facts.
Targeting an audience isn’t the easiest phase of developing your business, but it’s one of the most important. With the right target audience in place, and a better understanding of how they operate, you’ll be much better able to serve them well.