How to identify your target market

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It’s the first question I ask anyone I start working with, and it almost always is met with a blank stare or something vague…

“Who’s your ideal customer? Who’s attention are you trying to get?”


“My business really appeals to everyone…”

“My target audience is primarily women in their 30s and 40s.”

That last one is usually spoken confidently, this one’s been thought through. Sounds solid, right?

Sure, there’s a gender, and an age group. But there’s a lot left unspoken.

I could go chat with 10 women who match that description and get wildly different people. Some of them are career women, working 9 to 5s in a corporate office in an urban coastal city. Others are housewives in the suburbs with 3 kids and a minivan.

Still others are single, child-free, freelancers with their own businesses, traveling around the world going to yoga retreats and music festivals.

Some are heavily tattooed bookworms who spend their weekends digging up historical anecdotes to write about in their next novel.

Some live in Spain, or China, or the South of France and don’t speak a lick of English.

Those are just some random examples I made up, and you can probably imagine how just those different types of people have wildly different preferences, lifestyles, concerns, and desires.

And it’s their preferences, lifestyles, concerns, and desires that matter to your business.

So while gender and age group are a solid first step, dig further.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Look for the differentiating characteristics that make your audience stand out. You’re looking for the things that matter to your business, not just arbitrarily picking stereotypes. If any of these things don’t matter, leave them out, but try and be specific.

    You could start with the basics:

    • Gender

    • Age

    • Location

    • Career life

    • Partner / Kids situation

  2. Then think about the preferences the group you chose gravitate towards. These might help you reach them in marketing efforts.

    *Hint: Many people gravitate towards people like them. So if you’re at a loss, start with your own preferences! Then you can be free to be yourself.

    Things like:

    • Media they consume

      1. News networks

      2. Podcasts

      3. Magazines / Blogs

    • Political leanings

    • Celebrities they admire

    • Preferred leisure activities

  3. Now that you’ve got them narrowed down a bit, let’s talk a bit more about why they come to you. First, what do you help them do? This is your core business thing you do — you help them:

    • Do something faster or more efficiently

    • Improve their skills in some specific area

    • Learn a language or a process

    • Lose weight, find a lover, get a job, etc.

  4. Take it a little deeper: Why do they want that thing? Take your answer to #3 and add “So they can…” For example, I help them:

    • Improve their skills in [specific area] so they can land their dream job

    • Learn a language so they can travel and meet people confidently / have fun in another country

    • Lose weight so they can keep up with their children

  5. Another way to deepen this exploration: Take your best answer so far and add “without having to…” filling in with some concern or common pain you help them avoid. For example:

    • Learn a language without boring drills

    • Lose weight without counting calories

    • Do something faster without burning themselves out

Use whichever answers apply to you and your business. You can tweak the language until it sounds natural for you.

Some examples:

My audience is primarily early-stage entrepreneurs in their 30s and 40s who are struggling to build their world-changing businesses without wasting a ton of time and money on efforts that don’t work.

My audience is primarily working women in their 20s and 30s who are struggling to gain control over their health through better diet and nutrition, without spending a ton of time in the kitchen and the grocery store.

My audience is primarily men and women in their early 20s who are struggling to learn a new language without getting bored or frustrated, so they can travel and make new friends in foreign countries.

*I left out some of the demographic stuff in these examples as you don’t have to state everything for all to see — but you should still keep in mind the specifics in #1 and #2 for your marketing and messaging efforts.

If you’re still struggling with defining your audience, or if some of this feels really arbitrary to you, I get it. Sometimes you have to experiment until you hit the right target audience for you.

The best tip I have: Just pick something — and then go talk to them!

This is the best way to figure out what struggles you can help people avoid, or what their ultimate “so they can” desires are. Let them tell you WHY they want to do the thing you help them do.

Then find people whose “Why” matches what you do.

Need help? Send me a message! I’ll help as much as I can.

StrategySarah Harrison