Target Audience too Generic?-3 Ways to Hit the Mark Every Time

Picture the scene.

You have your demographic material broken down in nice little pie charts in front of you.

It defines your target audience as 30-35 year-old females working for a non-profit.

You rub your hands together in eager anticipation.

You rub your hands together in eager anticipation.

Now you know everything you need to know to craft that killer inbound marketing campaign, right? Not so fast.


The Problem with Relying Solely on Demographics 

The truth is that demographics are essential, but by no means are they everything you need in order to get the whole picture of your target audience.

For instance, in the scenario above, what does the information provided really tell you?

Do you know any 30-35 year-old women who work for non-profits?

If you do, you probably also know that each one of those women is an individual, with preferences, habits, and needs that differ (sometimes widely) from those of her peers.

Designing a marketing campaign around a vague notion of what 30-35 year-old women who work for non-profits want will likely result in a watered-down campaign that elicits tepid interest at best.

In this article, Target Audience too Generic?-3 Ways to Hit the Mark Every Time, we disclose three steps to help you build strategies to define your target audience.

To Hit the Target, You Must See the Target

Consider what you want to accomplish with your marketing strategy.

In the simplest terms, you want to find a group of customers who actually want the product or service you offer and who are willing to pay for it.

Successful inbound marketing consists of four essential steps. They are:

  • attracting your target audience
  • converting your audience
  • closing the deal
  • delighting your audience 

Think of what the term "target" implies. When you think of a target, you likely think of a narrow focus on a particular object.

A Lesson Learned from Archery 

Think of the last time you saw an archer aiming at a bulls-eye some distance away.

Picture the intensity of his focus.

Sometimes in order to sight the target more closely, an archer will close one eye, concentrating all his ability into seeing, not the wide world all around him, but just the tiny bulls-eye in the distance.

It is the narrow focus that enables the archer to hit the target.

What is the lesson marketers can take from this?

Simply put, having a narrower target audience will likely enable you to better reach your customers and stand out from your competitors.

Therefore, if you expect success for your marketing efforts, you must first find a target audience that isn't generic.

From Broad to Narrow in Three Easy 

Demographics give you the broad brushstrokes of your potential customer base.

This broad foundation is essential, but much more is required to narrow your marketing focus appropriately.

In times past, the prevailing wisdom may have been to throw out a one-size-fits-all campaign and wait to see what would happen.

Much like aiming arrows at the broad side of a barn, these campaigns may have hit some marks, but who wants just the broadside of a barn?

Today's consumers are much too savvy to appreciate such a broad focus.

Consumers expect a targeted message tailored specifically for them at every touch point.

What can you do to narrow your focus appropriately and increase the impact of your marketing message?

1) Put a picture with the demographic. 

You must use a little creativity to see beneath the broad strokes provided by your demographic information.

Thinking about what you know so far, extrapolate additional details from your own life experiences.

In other words, in the scenario of the 30-35 year-old woman who works for a non-profit, fill in the blanks by asking yourself what she looks like, what her family connections might be, who her friends are, what her hobbies might be, and where she goes to research information.

Once you have in mind those things, it is time for step two.

2) Get the mindset. 

As your focus narrows on your target audience, you must get into the mindset of your target.

Your goal is to determine what your audience needs and wants, so that you can take steps to meet those needs.

In the scenario of the non-profit worker, you might ask questions such as:

  • What are her personal goals?   
  • What are her business objectives?
  • What trends might inhibit her from reaching her goals?
  • What questions is she asking herself to reach those goals? 
  • What strategies do they already have in place and why aren’t they working?

Finding the answers to questions like these will sharpen your focus on your real target audience.

3) Aim for the heart.

It has been said that the heart is the seat of motivation.

If your marketing efforts are to be successful, you must tap into the emotions of your target audience effectively.

What pushes your audience's buttons?

Is your target consumer driven by cost-consciousness or is he or she more concerned with the quality of your product?

Either answer will inform your marketing strategy.

What about your product or service will appeal to potential customers emotionally?

How can you make your interactions with customers resonate with meaning for them personally?

Finding the emotional center of your target audience will enable you to craft a successful, segmented campaign that will yield positive results.

The core of an inbound marketing campaign relies heavily on the effort that goes into creating personas for your target audience.

What is inbound marketing?

Instead of buying ads, buying email lists, or cold calling, inbound marketing focuses on creating educational content that pulls people toward your website where they can learn more about what you sell on their own accord.

In a nutshell it’s marketing with a magnet instead of with a sledgehammer.