Decode Your Target Audience in 5 Easy Steps

You have this amazing business idea. You have the skills, the guts, and the money to launch it. In fact, you even have a platform with some audience who should be interested in your product. Yet, the question is – who exactly will buy from you?

At early stages, it doesn’t make sense for a business to please everyone. The best practice is to invest your time, money, and efforts toward very particular people who are likely to become your first supporters.

Here are 5 actionable steps you should take to define your target audience.

1. Create a solid audience profile

You need to have a solid understanding of who your audience is before launching any sales. Create a vivid, detailed picture of your buyer and try to identify their buying patterns and motivation behind it. At this point, you’ll begin to form a picture of their lives.  For instance:

  • a single mother of two teenagers, living in a big city with a total income of $85,000 per year.
  • a family of 3 living in Alaska, on a farm, with a net worth of several million dollars
  • a retired couple in 60s, living as expats in France with fixed retirement incomes

Add as much context as possible as it will help you sell effectively. Build your audience profiles on solid demographic base as you won’t be able to understand their needs and motivation otherwise.

2. Identify their biggest struggle, problem or need

So, people from your list have a problem that keeps them awake at night. It might be a persistent problem like lack of communication with their peers, limited willpower to lead a healthy lifestyle, etc. Or a momentary issue like insomnia, a need to hire reliable moving team, or order food at 3 am in the morning. In any case, identifying and understanding the problem is essential to driving more sales.

How can you do it?

  • Speak to your existing audience. Run a survey on your blog, go through the comments section once again, and identify the most commonly asked questions. Set up an A/B testing email campaign targeting different segments of your audience to identify what services they might be interested in.
  • Don’t feel like you have enough audience to test your assumptions? Run a paid survey within a few segments of the audience you’d like to target.

3. Find the best channels to speak through

Now, as you have the “who” and “what”, it’s time to identify the “where” component. Where does your audience look for information? Do they read blogs or prefer to listen to podcasts on the go? Do they trust big name outlets or prefer to rely on smaller niche publishers?

Identifying the right channel to deploy your message is crucial if you want it to be heard. Spend time analyzing your audience content consumption – how much time do they spend online, written, audio or video content; do they read reviews or not? Once you have the answers to these questions, you are ready to move to the next step.

4. Identify the core benefit of your product that solves their problem

One of the problems a lot of businesses face is focusing on the features, rather than the benefits. Stop explaining what your product does. Tell your customer what it will do for them.

Instead of simply offering a “how to build a successful blog” course, talk about the exact problems you will teach them to solve like growing subscribers’ list, improving engagement rates, finding the ultimate monetization strategy, or landing big name clients and sponsors.

5. Reach out to them through trusted mediums

The last, but not least, step to take is to speak through the channels your audience trusts.  At step 3 you’ve already identified their online browsing and consumption patterns; now it’s time to meet your new clients half way.

Create a list of thought leaders, media, and online experts within your niche and work with them. For instance, if you are targeting entrepreneurs, try landing a story on or Entrepreneur.  The more your name is connected to trusted and recognized brands, the more trust and credibility is transferred back to you.

Image Credit: Flickr/J J

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Written by:
Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien
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