Three simple steps for identifying your target audience.

Most living things evolve. What was once simple becomes more complex. Things adapt to their surroundings. And advertising? It’s really no different.

When I was growing up (for context, I’ll be 40 this year), advertising options included the local TV staples (NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX), radio stations, local newspapers, billboards, a handful of cable stations, and direct mail. While those traditional options still exist, now there are also 100+ cable networks, digital billboards, QR codes, in-game advertising, and over-the-top (OTT) ads on what seems like countless different streaming services. Oh! And, let’s not forget about the internet! Display ads; video ads; pre-roll, mid-stream, and everything in between!

With so many options, deciding where to advertise can be time-consuming, stressful, confusing, and expensive. The thing to remember is that you don’t have to advertise everywhere, just where your target audience is.

Considering who your target audience is and how you can best reach them will help you cut through the clutter and make your advertising more efficient and effective. Here are a few simple points to help guide you through the process.

  1. Identify who or what your target audience is.It should be the people you see as your best potential customer based on the goods or services you offer.

    “That’s easy. I want everyone to see my ads.”

    Slow down, Walmart. You can’t be everything to everyone.

    “But I own a pizza place, and everyone needs to eat.”

    Everyone needs to eat, yes, but who’s paying? Who decides which pizza place to call? How are they getting your food? Why are they calling your place instead of Pizza Explosion across the street? Granted, these questions are tailored to this incredibly simplistic example, but you get the idea.

  2. Learn about your customers – both current and potential.Data is more important than ever. The more you know about your customers, the better you can provide the goods and services they might need.

    What if you knew your customers’ birthdays and could offer them a special treat around their big day? (Thanks, data!) What if you knew that most of your customers stopped into your business on their way home from work? That information would probably make a TV commercial during drive time a less effective option, but knowing your potential customers are in the car could steer you toward advertising on radio. Just about any data on your target audience can become useful with the right tactics, ideas, and promotions.

  3. Understand who you are (and who you’re not).You may not be your target audience. Let that sink in. And that’s OK! But don’t be upset if you don’t see your own ads. Just because you like to watch MSNBC doesn’t mean your target audience does. This is a tough but important lesson for every marketer and business owner to remember.

Advertising options have evolved because the ways people consume media have evolved. Learning about your target audience – beyond just an age and a general demographic – can help your business evolve with them.

If you’re looking to optimize your paid media strategy, let’s chat.