Your target audience is NOT everyone

Photo credit: Espen Sundve Edited: RMLALCHAN

Photo credit: Espen Sundve Edited: RMLALCHAN

Hundreds of people over the years have filled in our Project Briefing Sheets to let us know the scope of their website or branding project.

Parts of it are quite in depth to really get you thinking about where you are now, what you really do and where you want to go.

When it comes to the question about ‘who is your target audience’, it’s amazing how often this is answered with the phrase ‘everyone’, so much so that we put in a guidance note that says “Don’t say ‘everyone’. Be specific.

So why is this? Why do people instinctively expect ‘everyone’ to be their target audience? This is the worst answer you could possibly give.

There is a myth that you have to choose the widest possible audience, the perception being you give yourself the greatest chance of making your business work.

You may look to companies like Amazon, and think that people of all different walks of life purchase from them, and that’s what they want. But you know what? Even Amazon’s target audience is not ‘everyone’.

It is crucial you know who your products or services are targeted at, because it makes you more focused on how you sell them. It means you can be clearer on the language, imagery, styling that will most powerfully connect with those people who actually want what you can provide.

So to help you in understanding your target audience a bit more, here are a few points to think about.

Who isn’t your audience?

If you’re having a problem answering ‘who is my target audience?’, think about the reverse. Who wouldn’t buy from you?

Let stick with Amazon as an example. It seems like anyone would buy from them, but let’s think about that for a second. Who wouldn’t buy from them?

We could start with anyone who isn’t remotely interested in technology, doesn’t even use a computer, or even in a part of the world without stable internet connection. Technophobes, to whom even sending an email is the worst thing imaginable. They are immediate non-starters.

What about people similar to the above but usually in the older age bracket who do use technology but have big issues with security. They find the idea of entering a credit/debit card number into their computer tantamount to handing a stranger their card in the street, along with a nice post-it note containing their security code and pin number.

Then there are people who may well be very tech savvy but have an issue with big corporates. They would see buying from Amazon like selling their soul to the devil. Seriously. I know people like this.

And there are other people who potentially could be customers, but the Amazon interface is too off putting for them as it can be quite busy. They are after a simpler way to shop.

This will be the same for you. Not necessarily those same audiences, but you will have people who will not buy from you as they are not in the market for what you sell or they would not buy from the type of company/person you are –that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with you, just that your and their values are not aligned.

Trust me, this is a good thing. Instead of spending lots of money trying to convince these people to become your customers, how about getting your message out to people who are converted already. They just don’t specifically know about you yet.

Analyse your existing customers

Who has actually bought from you? Could you write a summary of who these people are? We’ll actually come on to creating personas in the section below, but for now, just draw up a spreadsheet –if you like that sort of thing– or write in a document key facts about the people that have bought from you.

Ask yourself, what age they were? What gender? What type of company were they from? Large corporate? Small one–person–band company?

Where were they located? Was this key to the sale? (i.e. were you their local supplier of what you provided or could they have gone anywhere?)

We did this exercise recently and know that we are now picking up more local work than we have in the past. Local to us is Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and London. We can see this has changed as we are changing our focus slightly and providing more workshops which need to be face to face. More on that in upcoming posts!

Analysing your current customers can give you a good picture of who you’re actually selling too and enable you to combine some of the data into what's known as personas.

Create your characters

Persona example we use for Creatives Hub

Personas are defined as “fictional characters created to represent the different user types that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way.”

Instead of describing your customers in typical marketing speak - i.e. 45–60 year old males, living in London and the home counties, personas allow you to be specific, focusing on individuals rather than a group.

It’s far easier to write a blog post, or a product sheet with a specific user in mind. So instead of the above description, you’d have: Toby Khalid, 48, lives in Fulham, CFO for large city accountancy firm.

Personas then allow you to get even more specific. Here you can think about:

  • What type of personality they are
  • How tech savvy they are
  • The books they read
  • The magazines they read
  • The music they listen to
  • Where they shop
  • Where they live
  • Marital status
  • Where they eat out (or do they?!)
  • And so on…

Conclusion

Your target audience in not everyone. There are many people who –no offence– will not touch your product or service with a barge-pole. This is not a bad thing. It’s just not for them.

Your job is to get inside the head of your real audience. Understand how they think. What are their challenges in life right now? What are the things that keep them up at night?

How does your offering fit into their life? Is it just what they’re looking for to solve a constant problem they’ve been having?

Focus on them and ignore anyone else. It doesn’t mean that others outside your expected audience won’t buy your product or service, it’s just that you won’t target them.

Understanding your audience will help you go a long way in developing the right messages that connect with them and increase sales, giving your business the success it deserves.