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Define Your Target Audience in 3 Steps

Jennifer Bodner By Jennifer Bodner

How many times have you been in a meeting and someone says something like, “Our target is women. Ages 18 to 25.”? Is that really a target? No, not by a long shot.

Thanks to our melting-pot society, the differences among “women, ages 18 to 45” span race, ethnicity, values, family model, education, income, and so much more.

One of the critical factors in marketing success is truly understanding the target audience: who is it within the demographic subset that is really going to make an impact on your brand?

Research is critical to identify the specific audience who take an action and engage with your product. That audience could buy your product, advocate on your behalf, share your message, or post about you on their social channels.

On a macro level, we’ve seen brands slowly evolving with this way of thinking by featuring more diversity in their advertising. But there is still so much more that can be done.

So, how do you make sure you’re braving a new way of understanding the audience?

  • Go beyond the focus group: You have to really understand how your audience lives, works, and plays. That means getting outside of the 90-minute focus group in a conference room. At SCOUT, we work with our proprietary panel of moms, MOMPACKTM, on an ongoing basis. We talk to them about their interests, passions, and get their feedback on our campaigns to make sure we’re resonating.
  • Focus on psychographics, not demographics: Organize your research and thinking around people’s interests and values, not just their age and ethnicity. Both online and offline communities have offered us the opportunity to search and sort based on shared interests and passions. From running shoes to chocolate milk, you can dig in and find people who are leading the conversations on these topics and understanding what’s trending in the space.
  • Don’t think outside the box; build a better box: This is one of Travis Sharp’s, SCOUT’s creative director, favorite phrases. It’s okay to be wildly creative; it just needs to be based on a solid communication strategy. Travis says, “My box is constructed of a deep understanding of my audience, our goals, the communication environment, and our competition. If I’ve done my due diligence and built my box well, every idea outside the box is wrong. Instead, I think inside my better box. There are still unlimited good ideas in there, only now they’re prepared to succeed.”

So next time a colleague asks, who is the target for this brand? Get some snacks and get ready to dig in.