Checklist: the importance of knowing your target audience
No matter how good your comms strategy is, if you’re not considering your target audience you’re wasting your time and money.
Your target audience: who’s who?
Whether you’re putting together a strategy for PR, marketing, social media, or any other comms channel, there’s one thing you mustn’t overlook: your target audience.
Many brands make the mistake of assuming they’re the most important party when it comes to comms, since they’re the ones producing and sharing the content. Unfortunately, failing to consider your target audience makes the whole process a waste of time and money. The purpose of any comms activity is to communicate and engage with external stakeholders.
Of course, to communicate effectively with your target audience, you need to know them inside out. You need to know not only who you’re targeting, but how they like to be communicated with, and what language they want you to use too. Get it wrong, and your carefully crafted brand messaging just won’t sink in.
Next time you’re struggling to define the target audience for your comms, try our handy checklist to ask yourself the right questions.
Target audience checklist
What are your objectives?
Your target audience will vary depending on what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re seeking funding, your target audience is investors. If you’re trying to increase sales, your target audience will be potential customers.
Do you have the facts?
Don’t make assumptions about your target audience. You only know what you can support with evidence – analyse sales, social followers, and market research. Carry out surveys if you have the budget. You may think you know your customers better than anyone, but you could be wrong. Don’t be blindsided by who you want to sell to.
Who pays for your product?
If you’re a consumer brand, bear in mind that the person who pays for your product or service isn’t necessarily the end user. For example, many women still buy toiletries for their male partners. Your comms needs to be targeting both these groups to be truly effective.
What’s the demographic of your audience?
Obviously this should be based on data, not assumption. Consider things like age, gender, social grade, education, and geographic location. It may help to create customer profiles to refer back to.
What’s important to your audience?
Are they likely to value family, their careers, health, the environment, politics, philantropy, or science, for example? In the case of b2b communications, the chances are that their interest is likely to be about two main things. Gaining competitive advantage and achieving better profitability. Knowing what’s important to your target audience can help you align your messaging to reflect this.
What problems do they face?
Ideally, your business should solve a common problem faced by your target audience – reference this in your communications. It’s an old adage that nothing sells like pain and fear, but there is some truth in this. Keep it positive though, and focus on how your business can make their lives better.
Speak their language.
Even if you have your own technical terminology that you use when describing your business, you should always keep your tone and messaging easy for your audience to understand. Remove any obstacles to them understanding what your business is about.
Where do they go for their news?
Which magazines and newspaper does your target audience read? Do they prefer print or online? Are there any blogs, vlogs, or other news sites they frequent? Which social media channels do they prefer? Once you have a clear picture, this is where you need to begin targeting your PR activity.
When do they check the news/read social media?
If you’re running a time sensitive campaign and posting at specific times, this is worth considering. A teenager who finishes school at four pm is most likely going to be reading the news and checking social media at a different time to a professional who finishes work at half five.
Who are your competitors?
Consider any similar products or services your target audience might currently be using. How are you going to entice them to use your brand instead?
What sort of content does your target audience want to receive from brands?
Millennials, for example, notoriously dislike feeling ‘sold’ to. However, your friendly and informative content marketing strategy may fall on deaf ears if your target audience won’t read a whitepaper. Use social media to research what works well, and analyse your own data, including site traffic, click through rates, and open rates for email marketing.
Whatever you’re trying to achieve with your comms and content, don’t forget about the person on the receiving end of it. Fail to consider how they might respond to your tone or messaging, and it’s likely you won’t get the ROI you deserve.