How Well Do You Know Your Target Audience?

by | Mar 16, 2023


Following is a guest post from our friends over at Long & Short of It, masters of ideation, customer insights and market research. They like to say they “dig and find lots of data and then turn it into actionable insights.” Following is their guest post. 

Sure, some people are lucky enough to work with a product or service that they consume or want to consume, but most of us spend our days working on products or services where we are not part of the target audience. And, that’s okay. You don’t have to be the target audience to be able to market to them. However, you do have to recognize who they are and keep them top of mind when making marketing and product decisions.

It seems so obvious, but it’s not. For example, a team member may know that their target audience is a 45-64-year-old woman, yet they choose to put a 20-something model in their print ad. Sure, she looks good, but that isn’t the right choice to resonate with the target audience, and in fact, may actually turn off that audience. That is a simple example, but you get the idea. If those marketers were thinking about their target audience, the young model wouldn’t have been a consideration.

Getting into the minds of your audience may take some time and extra thought, but it’s worth it. You need to know them and also know what they say about your brand or product. If your audience says a product is practical, it’s practical. It doesn’t matter that you want it to be chic.


 See them in action. I spent a large portion of my career in marketing research, so I’ve had the pleasure of watching consumers interact with a variety of products from greeting cards to bank teller lines to welding equipment. There is no replacement for seeing them in action. Get out of your office. Trust me, you will learn something every single time. You can watch them and just observe, or better yet, ask them some questions. Why did you choose that? How did you decide to pick that up first? Was this something on your list or an impulse purchase today? Then listen to what they say and ask follow-up questions. People are more than willing to share their experiences. One thing to remember is that you’re only talking to a small number of folks. Yes, it’s helpful, but don’t make decisions based on what we like to say is “a focus group of one.” Combine this with other learnings.

Conduct primary research with them. There are many methodologies out there from quantitative to qualitative. Match the method to the objective. You’ll want quantitative (e.g., survey) if you want to measure something. An example here is finding the preferred marketing message. To choose a winner, a large sample size is needed which means quantitative. Qualitative (e.g., focus group) is used when you want to explore something. The example here is understanding what the target audience likes and dislikes about a selection of marketing messages.

Dig into secondary research. There is data available on many target audiences – especially if your audience is a common one (e.g., Moms 25 – 54). Understand that this information won’t be specific to your brand or product, but you can still learn a lot about various audiences this way. Try to look at secondary research first, because it can help inform what you want to know from your specific audience.

Knowing your audience is a key step in presenting your brand or product in a way that resonates with them. Take that step – it’s worth it.

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