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How To Define And Reach Your Target Audience

How to Define and Reach Your Target Audience

8 Founders share their best insight, tips, dos, and don’ts in identifying and connecting to their target audiences.

One of the most important parts of launching, growing, and maintaining a successful company is knowing your target audience and catering to their specific needs. While it’s often tempting to want to mass-market to ‘everyone,’ in terms of effective marketing and PR, “inclusion” is not always the best policy.

Why?

When you try to talk to everyone, you largely run the risk of connecting with no one. The reality is that we live in a cluttered digital world where it’s becoming increasingly difficult (borderline impossible) to not be bombarded by some form of advertising when we hop online. Buy this, read this, click here, join us there, “Call-to-Action (CTA) overwhelm and fatigue” is a VERY real thing. So how do marketers, communication pros, and founders then cut through the clutter? By niching down and producing content and messaging that speaks to a very specific “target audience.”

Let me back up for a second…

You’ve probably heard the term a million times, but let’s review what exactly a “target audience“ isSproutsocial defines it as a group of people defined by certain demographics and behavior often used by businesses to create user personas and, ultimately, guide their decisions on marketing campaigns.

So, how does one first determine then reach said “target audience”? Short answer, there’s not just one answer. To illustrate this point, and offer some further insight, I asked 8 founders ranging across a variety of industries about their journey to defining and establishing relationships with their company’s target audience. Here is what they had to say.

How to Define and Reach Your Target Audience - Theprbarinc.com - Michelle Wintersteen

mkwcreative.co | @mkwcreative.co

How did you identify your brand’s target audience?

In the six years of running my business, my brand’s target audience has shifted. As a new entrepreneur, it was hard to tell exactly the type of business owner I wanted to work for, but each time I wrapped a project, I would throw that client into a “good experience” vs. “not as good experience” list. At the end of each quarter, I would try to find similarities between the projects and clients I liked versus those that didn’t go as smoothly. Whittling down these similarities and differences helped me better identify who my target audience should be.

How have you been able to successfully connect with your brand’s target audience?

Social media marketing and networking have been the best way to connect with my target audience. Being an early adopter to TikTok this year exploded my design business and exposed my portfolio work to new audiences who hadn’t been following or interacting with my work on other platforms. Additionally, having content and community for prospective clients has been huge. I run a Facebook community (Kiss My Aesthetic) of about 2,200 branding, marketing, and entrepreneurial professionals and an interview-style podcast by the same name (Kiss My Aesthetic Podcast). This has been a wonderful way to keep future clients who may be curious about what I do and how I do it in my brand’s periphery.

What tips/tricks/advice do you have for new founders just starting out. Is identifying your target early on important? Did you make any mistakes early on that you suggest they avoid?

Hot take, but I am going to say no, it’s not as important for new founders just starting out to have their ideal client completely nailed down. Especially in service-based businesses, you may find that your ideal client changes based on what they may need, what you’re good at, and what the world is like (hello, COVID). That being said, having your brand’s core values and content pillars decided on will help give structure to how you market your business. I have absolutely made countless mistakes when it comes to my business and completely rebranded in early 2019 because of it. I believe that staying adaptable is a founder’s greatest strength.

    How to Define and Reach Your Target Audience - Theprbarinc.com - Zachary Casler

jointheround.com | @jointheround

How did you identify your brand’s target audience? Did you use any specific tools, software, books, etc.? Please explain.

The pandemic has shifted the dating landscape and moved more people towards apps than ever. We’re still in the process of nailing down our target audience, and it’s extremely exciting. These days we’re spending our time talking to people over Instagram DMs, in local parks (socially distanced of course), and practically anywhere where people are willing to give us insight into their dating life. Our initial audience (at a high level, 23–33-year-old singles who enjoy experiences, being outdoors, dining out, etc.) has split into two sub-groups: those who are comfortable meeting in person, and those who aren’t, requiring our experiences to be tailored accordingly.”

The Round team lives in Amplitude (analytics) & Customer.io (conditional workflow-based marketing) to get a sense of how our current user base behaves. We look to market to audiences similar to high-converting ones within our app.

How have you been able to successfully connect with your brand’s target audience?

The Round is location-based, so we’re able to be very targeted with our marketing efforts. The app launched in Austin, Texas in August and we have the luxury to focus right in our own backyard. The team has strong local roots and we’re reaching out to every connection we have from personal friends who influence (like @AustinFoodstagram) to our favorite small businesses (like Via313 Pizza.)

The best thing is that our outreach and marketing efforts tie directly into restoring small businesses and supporting the people behind them. We’ve been running Instagram giveaways with local brands like @365ThingsAustin and Greenbelt Outdoors to promote their products and services, and it’s paid off tenfold.

What tips/tricks/advice do you have for new founders just starting out. Is identifying your target early on important? Did you make any mistakes early on that you suggest they avoid?

Identifying your targets and setting goals is make or break to any entrepreneur or company. If you don’t have anything to aim for, you’re aiming at nothing.

For founders that are just starting out it’s crucial to start thinking about marketing and relationships as soon as you start fleshing out your idea. They say your network is your net worth, and that couldn’t be more true. We started fostering relationships years before The Round went live, so we could ensure our launch was echoed by the community.

The past six months have been difficult as we’ve had to pivot and adapt to a completely new way of life, but Instagram DM’s and cold/warm email outreach have been instrumental to our communications in a COVID-19 world.

How to Define and Reach Your Target Audience - Theprbarinc.com - Lady Bizness

ladybizness.com | @chisapennixbrown

How did you identify your brand’s target audience? Did you use any specific tools, software, books, etc.? Please explain.

I chose my target audience based on who I really wanted to connect with. I started out wanting to focus on people who wanted to learn how to use and maximize social media. What I noticed was that women were the core audience that attended classes and became my biggest advocates. I used trial and error and learned how to use each app. I read more blogs and followed people who were always on the cusp of new technology.

How have you been able to successfully connect with your brand’s target audience?

My target audience has grown with me in person and online. My presence via my podcasts and live streaming paired with virtual classes has allowed me to teach and inspire. Through Facebook and Instagram Live I have gained a following that consistently shares my content in their stories and on their walls. Not only do they attend, but they help me market. My collaborations have been with colleges, chambers of commerce, and organizations that understand the value of using social media to communicate and add value.

What tips/tricks/advice do you have for new founders just starting out?

I would say for new Founders to see what they are really good at and can clearly explain with your eyes closed. I think one of the strengths that I have is understanding that people learn and absorb information in different ways and at varying rates. Being able to explain a concept, and more importantly why someone should do something, shows a level of mastery. It’s part sales mixed with an education that makes people trust your advice and your product.

How to Define and Reach Your Target Audience - Theprbarinc.com - Alisa Pospekhova

kindroot.com | @kindroot

How did you identify your brand’s target audience?

It was easy for me because I created the product out of a need that I saw was missing in the market for myself. I’m a millennial health and wellness-focused woman and I found that most herbs and adaptogens were difficult to take on-the-go. I studied my target consumer everywhere I went (i.e.yoga studios, stores, Instagram stories, etc.), to learn what was most important to others like myself and what they might be looking for and would appreciate in a plant-based lozenge.

I remember following and seeing one influencer post specifically about how the adaptogenic powder she regularly used had exploded all over her backpack during travels. I realized that I wasn’t alone in this and others faced the same dilemma that I had. It was very much “digital” fieldwork.

Did you use any tools, software, books, etc.?

I used the tool SurveyMonkey and conducted a number of consumer polls specifically when I was developing packaging, and blend names/flavors. This helped me better understand what resonated with consumers I was looking/hoping to target.

How have you been able to successfully connect with your brand’s target audience?

I focused on peripheral brands — where she works out, where she travels, other brands that she eats. I partnered with healthy meal companies at LAX by dropping samples into their wellness kits and have done sampling at Saunas, spas, and IV drip spots. I also run regular giveaways, and because I know what resonates with the consumer, I focus on other health and wellness natural brands or beauty, and women-owned companies.

What tips/tricks/advice do you have for new founders just starting out?

I recommend breaking everything out into small tasks — getting everything from idea to market can seem overwhelming, but if you focus on what is critical and what is next, you can be slow and steady and get to where you want and need to be.

How to Define and Reach Your Target Audience - Theprbarinc.com - Jeff Lambert

tiicker.com | @tiicker

How did you identify your brand’s target audience?

The development of TiiCKER stemmed from a need we discovered, leading us directly to our target audience. Working in investor relations for over 25 years, I noticed there was a disconnect between public companies and individual shareholders. This gap created the momentum to bring TiiCKER to life. When we launched, our vision was to reinvent shareholder marketing and create a new demographic that’s never been reached before — consumer shareholders.

How have you been able to successfully connect with your brand’s target audience?

We have worked with investment firms for over 20 years through another company of mine, Lambert and Co. Working with an established target audience of those in the financial sector and presenting them with a new opportunity has proven key to raising awareness, growth, and exposure for our product. Rather than creating a new target audience, relying on one that is already established has made the work easier on our end.

What tips/tricks/advice do you have for new founders just starting out? Is identifying your target early on important? Did you make any mistakes early on that you suggest they avoid?

Focus on your vision. Ask yourself daily, is the work I am doing the stuff of legend? If you want to stand out, you have to be doing something different, giving your clients a niche product or offering. Motivate your team through wins, even if they are small. Find an executive coach or mentor to lead you along, no matter if you are just starting out or years in. My executive coach has changed my life and is the reason I launched TiiCKER.

How to Define and Reach Your Target Audience - Theprbarinc.com - Lashion Robinson

HUDLMusic.com | @hudlmusic

How did you identify your brand’s target audience? Did you use any tools, software, books, etc.?

As a founder, the things I consider when marketing to a target audience is ensuring the service is a fit for the audience and will it be of value. Rather than relying on simply self-serve tools or software — things that as a business and vision-focused founder I know I’m not an expert in — I have chosen to surround myself with a powerful, senior team of experts in this space. I’ve worked closely with them to achieve the results for growth and user acquisition that I’m after in the next phase of the HUDLMusic.com’s lifecycle.

How have you been able to successfully connect with your brand’s target audience?

HUDL Music is focused on individuals or companies within the music business, especially those that are independent and forging a path all on their own: Artists, Record Labels, and the fans that support them…the fiercely independent that are a part of bringing the music we all love to life, regardless of genre, color, instrument, etc.

We have successfully been able to connect through multiple marketing channels working in collaboration with each, including Twitter, Instagram as well as YouTube, and by ultimately putting artists and community building first, before anything else. In the end, we fully believe the strongest marketing strategy is about quality, not quantity. It’s about how each and every post we make regardless of a specific platform threads into our brand’s story, and in turn, that of our users worldwide.

What tips/tricks/advice do you have for new founders just starting out? Is identifying your target early on important? Did you make any mistakes early on that you suggest they avoid?

For new founders, I would say do your homework, have a vision, and create a plan before jumping in. A lot of founders overspend on unnecessary things because of not thinking things through first. Additionally, identifying your targeted audience is HUGE, you want to know where to focus your marketing dollars so you can get the best return.

Again, I would repeat this over and over again: Have a plan and stick to the order of relevance to the overall mission. Doing things out of step could cost you time, money, and also your new startup.

How to Define and Reach Your Target Audience - Theprbarinc.com - Natalia Luman

thyforlife.com | @thyforlife

How did you identify your brand’s target audience?

I founded ThyForLife based on personal experience of managing my thyroid health. After struggling to keep track of numerous daily medications and monthly blood test results, I decided to create an app to help thyroid patients have all of this information at their fingertips. I talked to other thyroid patients on various thyroid Facebook groups and in-person in the clinics I went to and realized that everyone with a thyroid condition had the same pain points as I did. Talking to others helped me validate the need for our product, an intuitive mobile app to keep track of one’s health.

How have you been able to successfully connect with your brand’s target audience?

We connected with our audience via App Store Optimization (making sure our app is listed when users search ‘thyroid’ on Google Play) and collaborating with thyroid advocates on Instagram. Thyroid patients themselves are our best promoters because they understand our value proposition and are happy to share a solution with others in their shoes.

What tips/tricks/advice do you have for new founders just starting out? Is identifying your target early on important? Did you make any mistakes early on that you suggest they avoid?

It is so important to talk to your target audience as early as possible — they can tell you exactly what they need, what matters most to them, and why. A few things worked really well for us: 1) running 1:1 interviews with our first users and asking them explicitly ‘If you had a magic wand, what product would you love to have?’, 2) conducting market research surveys that we promoted via Instagram influencers (and using a lucky draw of a few gift cards as an incentive!), 3) having a feedback channel on our app for users to submit their feedback. We made it very clear from the very beginning that we were in the process of building a better product and the version we launched was still a beta. By inviting others to co-create with us, we have developed a significantly better version of the product that we are in the process of launching. Needless to say, we greatly benefited from regular feedback from our users!

How to Define and Reach Your Target Audience - Theprbarinc.com - Varun Sharma

laumieregourmet.com | @laumieregourmet

How did you identify your brand’s target audience?

We launched a year back and assumed our audience would be a young 25–35 audience. A few months down the line we realized our target audience is a woman married with 2 kids living in one of the best zip codes in the USA who cares for her health. How we figured this out was because of our data analysis. We were quick to realize and deep dive into the data to figure this out.

How have you been able to successfully connect with your brand’s target audience?

Instagram has played such a crucial role in our D2C marketing. We have found a lot of mothers who are influencers who are more than happy to work with the brand and promote it — primarily because they themselves believe in it!

What tips do you have for new founders?

Analyze data but do not over-rely on it. A lot of time data shows you a trend that you are made to believe only to realize an alternative works better.

Not quite sure how to define or reach your businesses’ target audience? Reach out, and let’s chat!

Lexie Smith is the Founder of THEPRBAR inc. — an online coaching brand and platform that specializes in helping motivated entrepreneurs exponentially expand their impact, influence, and revenue through PR.

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