Whether you’re a marketing agency, a business person looking to increase their online presence, or an artist who wants to expand their following, knowing how to capture the attention of those who will find value in your product is essential to building your brand. In this article, Eric Troy explains key steps to reach that audience and achieve your targeting goals.

Step one: Know your brand.
Before you can determine your target audience, answer these three questions.
What is special about your product? What makes you—or your product—better than other sources? What elevates you above the competition?

Know your message, your product, and the value of that product before taking any further steps. After all, how can you set yourself above the competition if you don’t know what you’re bringing to the table?

Know your goals. Know your perspective. Know your skills. Know your brand.

Step two: Find successful examples of similar products.
Looking to the competition may seem counter-intuitive, especially after defining what sets you apart from them. But finding others in your field who have found success is essential to triumphant targeting.

By observing successful examples of similar products, you can see what they’ve done to acquire their following, and more importantly, you can see the individuals who comprise that following.

You catch a glimpse of your target audience.

Step three: Define your audience.
Sure, you want to increase your following, but what does your audience want? What are their interests? What are their hobbies? What makes them tick?

It’s impossible to know every aspect of the individuals who would have interest in your product. They are individuals, each with their own interests that deviate from the others, but what commonalities do they share?

Just as an artist first paints the broad strokes, then adds the color and finishing touches, so too must you determine the characteristics of your target audience.

Here’s an example:

Would a salesperson at Mercedes-Benz be more likely to sell a car to someone who works at the grocery store, or to someone who sells stocks on Wall Street? Who is more likely to be able to afford that vehicle, or even be able to rationally consider buying it?

If you answered, ‘someone who sells stocks on Wall St.’, congratulations, you’ve successfully determined one aspect of your targeting criteria.

Now, what would someone who would be able to afford a luxury vehicle be interested in? Fine dining? Custom-fitted suits? The PGA tour?

What media outlets would they follow? Business Insider? Forbes? The Wall St. Journal?

What age would the purchaser of a luxury vehicle likely be?
Think of determining the characteristics of your target audience as a funnel. Start with broad characteristics-blanket statements-and gradually narrow down to the specifics.

Step four: Use the right tool for the job.
We’ve determined the characteristics of our target audience, but how can we make use of this information?

With the characteristics we’ve compiled, we can now determine the best way to make our target audience aware that our product exists.

How will our target audience most likely see our promotional efforts? Would they be more likely to see our promotion in a newspaper, or from online sources? Would they be more likely to be watching cable T.V. or streaming videos on YouTube?
These answers will vary for each target audience you put your sights on, but the steps you’ve taken to determine who your target audience is will always retain their value. By knowing your target audience, you can discern which form of outreach will be most effective.

In closing, Following these four steps will help you find your target audience, determine their characteristics, and decide what approach will be most effective in reaching them. But the only way to see whether your targeting efforts are successful is by applying the information you’ve compiled.

Observe the data you receive after your promotional campaign has been launched, then adjust your targeting criteria accordingly to refine the characteristics of your target audience, or the outlets you are attempting to reach them on.

Your targeting toolbox is stocked, now get out there and give it a go!

Eric Troy

A master at bending plywood to his will, Eric is also a fledgling writer. Stick around so that you don’t miss the moment when his ideas take flight.