Understanding your target audience is akin to mastering the rhythm of the music.

But who (or what) exactly is this ‘target audience’?

Picture a spotlight on a stage. In the vast auditorium that is the ‘marketplace’, your target audience is the group of individuals in the spotlight. They are the ones who are most likely to be interested in your product or service, most likely to listen to your message, and most importantly, most likely to act upon it. They could be defined by a myriad of factors – age, location, gender, income level, occupation, interests, behaviours, and so much more.

The key is to understand that within this spotlight, not everyone is the same.

These are different individuals with different needs and wants, and the more precisely you can understand these nuances, the more effective your communication will be.

So, why does the target audience matter so much to a communicator or marketing specialist when it comes to our campaigns?

Think of your campaign as a conversation. For a conversation to be effective, it needs to be relevant to the person you’re talking to. Your campaign needs to speak the language of your audience, address their needs, their pain points, and offer a solution that they find valuable. Without a clear understanding of who your audience is, your campaign runs the risk of becoming a monologue, lost in the vast marketplace.

Understanding your target audience is not just about knowing who they are, but about understanding their world – their needs, their desires, their challenges, their aspirations. It’s about aligning your message with this world, so that it resonates with them, engages them, and ultimately, compels them to act. This is why your target audience forms the foundation of any successful campaign.

strtgcommsgrp - target audiences

Adapting to Dynamic Target Audiences

Identifying the right target audience is often a challenge.

You know they are there, but you are not quite sure where to aim.

This challenge stems from the inherent complexity of human nature. People are not just demographic statistics on a spreadsheet. They are living, breathing individuals with diverse interests, behaviours, and motivations.

Each person is a unique tapestry woven from a myriad of threads – their cultural background, personal experiences, values, beliefs, and aspirations.

Trying to encapsulate this rich complexity into a single ‘target audience’ is akin to trying to catch a cloud – it’s intangible and constantly changing.

Moreover, people’s interests and behaviours are not static. They evolve over time, influenced by a host of factors such as changing social trends, technological advancements, and personal growth.

Therefore, the target audience identified today might not be the same tomorrow.

You should treat audience identification as an ongoing process of understanding, learning, and adapting. It requires keen observational skills, and the ability to adapt swiftly to changes.

From One-Size-Fits-All to Diverse Target Audiences

The traditional approach to audience targeting often involves creating a ‘one size fits all’ audience.

This is akin to casting a wide net in the hope of catching as many fish as possible. It ignores the fact that not all fish are the same. Some prefer the shallow waters, while others thrive in the deep. Some are attracted to bright colours, while others are drawn to subtle hues.

If we are trying to catch specific types of fish, casting a wide net might not be the most effective strategy.

This is where the concept of multiple target audiences comes into play.

Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, we focus on identifying multiple target audiences. Each of these audiences represents a unique group of individuals with distinct interests, behaviours, and motivations. By customising the narrative and messaging to align with these audiences, we can ensure that our communication efforts resonate with the right people.

This approach recognises and embraces the diversity of our audience. It acknowledges that every individual is unique, and that this uniqueness should be reflected in our communication strategies.

Sidebar: Beyond the ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ Approach: Why do we segment target audiences?

The traditional ‘one size fits all’ approach to audience targeting assumes that all individuals within the target audience share the same interests, behaviours, and motivations. It may even seem efficient at first glance. However, it overlooks the rich diversity and complexity of human psychology.

Human beings are not monolithic entities. We are complex individuals with different needs, desires, and preferences. We respond differently to different stimuli. A message that resonates with one individual might fall flat with another. This is the crux of the psychology behind audience segmentation.

When we shift our perspective from a ‘one size fits all’ target audience to multiple target audiences, we acknowledge and embrace this diversity. We recognise that our audience is not homogeneous, but a collection of unique individuals with distinct psychological profiles¹.

This shift has profound implications for how we design and deliver our messages. Instead of crafting a generic message for a broad audience, we create tailored messages for specific audience segments. These messages are designed to resonate with the unique psychological profile of each segment, increasing the likelihood of engagement and response.

The mindset of having multiple target audiences is both a strategic decision, and a psychological one.

strtgcommsgrp - key questions for target audiences

How can we craft custom audiences that are fit for purpose?

Creating multiple target audiences is a strategic process that begins with asking the right questions.

Here are some key questions that can guide us in this process:

  1. Who are the people we want to reach? Understanding the demographic characteristics of our potential audience members, such as their age, location, and occupation, is a good starting point.
  2. What are their interests and behaviours? This involves understanding what they like, what they do in their free time, what products they buy, and how they interact with brands like ours.
  3. What motivates them? Understanding their needs, desires, and pain points can help us craft messages that resonate with them.
  4. How do they interact with our brand? This involves understanding their past interactions with our brand, their feedback, and their level of engagement.

Once we have a clear understanding of these aspects, we can create a more nuanced and effective approach to audience targeting. This involves crafting tailored messages that resonate with each audience segment, ensuring that our communication efforts align with their unique interests, behaviours, and motivations.

The next step is to use the outputs we want to reverse engineer the audience. This means starting with the end in mind.

What are the key outcomes we want from our communication efforts? It could be increasing brand awareness, driving sales, improving customer loyalty, or something else. Once we know what we want to achieve, we can work backwards to understand which audience segments are most likely to help us achieve these outcomes.

For example, if our goal is to drive sales, we might focus on audience segments that have a high purchasing power and have shown an interest in our product category. Or if our goal is to improve customer loyalty, we might focus on existing customers who have had positive experiences with our brand.

Refining our target audiences is not about limiting our reach, but about enhancing the effectiveness of our communication efforts.

It’s about ensuring that our messages resonate with the right people, at the right time, in the right way. And in doing so, we can optimise our outputs for maximum impact. This approach allows us to create more targeted, relevant, and effective campaigns.

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