Are your marketing and public relations campaigns falling flat and failing to reach the right customers?
Then it might be that your target audience research is missing the mark.
This complete guide for 2021 will help you identify the target audiences for all your public relations and marketing efforts.
We’ll teach you how to explore your existing customer base. Who are the people already connecting with your business and what messages resonate with them?
Then we’ll walk you through a smart but simple process to extend that reach with new data and by taking a look at how your competitor’s do it.
Learn from the best public relations examples and piggyback on their success.
Here’s what we’ll cover in 12 steps:
- What is a target audience?
- Why do you need a target audience?
- Can you have more than one target audience?
- Look at your own customers first
- Who are your competitor’s customers?
- Identify your audience’s pain points
- Understand who influences them
- Try Keyword Research
- Ask Quora
- Create a target audience persona statement
- Evaluate your decision
- Test, track and monitor your audience’s progress
Let’s get to it.
What Is A Target Audience?
A target audience is the group of people who (you hope) are interested in your product, service, charity or campaign.
They are the people who will connect with your cause, buy-in to your brand and care about what you are selling, or how the service you provide can impact their lives.
Your audience has a set of characteristics or demographics that they share, they have similar behaviours and can be grouped by their personal preferences.
For example, if you’re a luxury fashion brand with a special resort wear line, your target will be affluent consumers, with a love of travelling and staying in exclusive locations.
If you’re selling mindfulness guides for families then your target audience is stressed out parents who are trying to cope with their toddler’s tantrums and manage a hectic work/life schedule.
Understanding your target audience is essential for business success.
The better you understand your target market, the more impact you will generate with any marketing or PR campaign that you launch.
Let’s talk about why it is so important to get your target audience right.
Why Do You Need A Target Audience?
In many ways targeting an audience is part of human nature, we do it right from an early age.
It’s all part of the exchange process that helps us form relationships and develop as humans.
Right from when we’re asking our parents for something, to when we start school and we look for groups of people who we can connect with and become friends. It’s in our human DNA.
If you want to increase sales and reach new customers then spending time making sure you are targeting the right audience is essential.
New statistics suggest that if you are targeted in your marketing communications then you can increase sales by 20%.
It’s a no brainer.
Once you are clear on your target audience you can tailor all your messaging, stories and adverts to increase buy-in.
If you want people to take an action then they need to relate to the tone and content of your stories.
This resonance will help build trust in your brand and lay the foundations of long-lasting customer loyalties.
This business-critical insight can influence all your paid-for advertising and free PR.
It means you can run the most relevant ad set, choose the most popular awareness days and make sure that the attention grabbing headline for your press release will actually stand out.
Can Companies Have More Than One Target Audience?
The short answer is yes.
Companies can have more than one target audience, products can appeal to multiple target audiences or different products can have different audiences.
However, be warned.
From a marketing and PR point of view, the more target audiences you have the more specialised your communications must be.
Each PR campaign or advertising set should target a certain audience – a general approach will not work here.
If you have different audiences then you’ll need to have specific content for each one otherwise you won’t see engagement and results.
If you’re just starting out with your brand then avoid multiple audiences.
Start simple and then develop multiple audience profiles as your company matures and your understanding of the market grows.
Look At Your Own Customers First
A great place to start when researching your target audience is your own marketing and PR efforts.
Wherever you have interacted with the public is an opportunity to learn more about who is connecting with your brand and what you offer.
Start with your website and social media channels. Analyse your website data.
Which pages are getting the most traffic and why? How long are customers staying on your site and what is their journey?
Look at your social media statistics. Who is your typical social media fan? Who is re-sharing your posts and watching your brand’s videos?
Look at their age, gender, profession, likes and dislikes, personality traits, behaviours and geographic location.
Everything you can think of to build up a profile of your typical customer.
Find out what is unique about them, what sets them apart from others but also unites them as a group.
Although they may seem different at surface level, often one customer will have something in common with another.
Uncover what that is and you’ll start to understand the wider connection between your customer base.
Who Are Your Competitor’s Customers?
One of the easiest places to garner information about potential customers is by looking at your competitors. Who are they targeting and what is the level of engagement like?
Have they run any particular marketing or PR campaign that has brought them strong results?
If so, look at the messaging, who was it aimed at, what are the group’s demographics?
Have a look at their social media feeds, especially if they are customer service focused.
What issues are their customers facing and what solution are they offering to help them?
Identify Your Audience’s Pain Points
Products or services sell best when they solve problems for consumers, making life easier and better.
Identifying customer pain points, the obstacles they encounter when trying to achieve their goals is one of the most important parts of your research.
You need to know what your audience is trying to achieve or the experience they want, and, crucially what prevents them from it.
Do they want to lose weight but can’t find the time to cook nutritious meals?
Do they want a high adrenalin, high octane experience but are caught up in the mundane day-to-day tasks?
Armed with this knowledge you can shape all your messaging and stories so they speak directly to those pain points and helps your audience connect with your brand.
All the time building trust and brand loyalty.
But, make sure you don’t just touch on the surface pain points that you uncover, go deeper and find the root cause of these problems.
If people are stuck in a rut, if they want to change their situation but struggle to do so, it’s normally down to emotional and psychological reasons.
Speak to these pain points too.
Perhaps you don’t want to be overly emotional and aspirational in your messaging, that’s fine, not every brand does.
But don’t overlook this information.
Understanding your audience’s psychological traits, their dominate emotions and feelings is an essential part of your research.
Understand Who Influences Your Target Audience
Once you’ve understood what your audience’s problem is, how they feel about it and what they are trying to do to solve it, you should have a clear understanding of their perspective.
You can empathise with them and understand what they find important.
Next, you need to find out who or what influences them.
Having influence is all about what makes people take an action or make a decision.
Using influence is one of the most effective ways to sell. This is why influencer marketing is one of the biggest marketing growth trends of the past few years.
So how do you find out what or who influences someone?
First, check out social media.
Find users who fit your target audience’s profile and see who they are following and what they are liking.
The influencers they follow and the content they engage with will reveal important information about how they think and feel.
Make sure you check out YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the platforms used by your audience.
If you’re a B2B brand, or your targets are professionals, spend time on LinkedIn and see what content they are self-publishing but also whose posts they are interacting with.
And make sure you know how to post an article on LinkedIn.
But, don’t be fooled by recent hype.
Influence is not just the domain of YouTubers and Millennials, it is not a new concept. Important social and cultural personalities have influence too – they’re just not called influencers.
Find out what politicians they follow, leading thinkers, entrepreneurs, life coaches – anybody who might guide a decision or help take an action is important here.
You can also discover this type of information in person. Set up focus groups, interview existing customers over the phone.
You can also follow discussions in Facebook groups, blog comments, forums and social media. Quora is one of the most popular discussion platforms and we’re going to cover that later in the blog.
Where do they get their information?
So you’ve checked social media and analysed how they interact with your brand’s website but now it’s time to look further.
Widen your search and look at the many different ways your target audience can consume information.
Not only will this tell you how they like to consume information but it will also tell you more about their motivation and what stories they are looking to connect to.
This information will ensure that all your PR is relevant to them. Not only will your messaging and storytelling resonate but you’ll share it via the most appropriate channel to reach them.
Go through every media platform you can think of and see whether your target audience is active on them, or use them to get their information.
Here’s a channel checklist for you:
Try Keyword Research
More than 87% of consumers conduct online product research before buying.
What and how they search reveals a great deal about what they are actually looking for.
If you can understand your audience’s search behaviour, their intent and what content they are looking for, you’ll be best placed to give them what they want, when they need it.
The easiest way to obtain this information is through keyword research.
You don’t need to be an SEO expert these days to do this.
There are some fantastic search tools out there to assist in your data gathering and they manage all the numbers and spreadsheets for you. SEMrush is by far the best and the only one we recommend.
You need to get to grips with understanding the way in which your target audience thinks and how they search.
What questions do they ask in that search bar? What phrases or keywords do they enter?
Don’t assume that you already know the answer to this – you’ll be surprised.
Think more in terms of what pressing issues your target audience have and what solutions they are looking for.
Consider what they don’t understand about your sector or product and what they want to know more about.
Focus on the high volume keywords and phrases for the greatest reach to your audience but don’t forget the more long-tail searches too.
Yes, these may be less frequent and more niche but they are also more targeted.
Users involved in these searches are usually more committed to buy and will be more engaged with your content.
Ask Quora About Your Target Audience
Quora is a Q&A forum that has 300 million monthly active users.
That’s a hell of a lot of people you can ask questions on any topic you want.
If you need to know something, understand how people think or feel about a topic then Quora is for you.
Quora is easy to use and is particularly useful for target audience research because it allows you to go ask questions and read answers in a relatively short period of time.
It’s great at suggesting ‘related questions’ that your target audience might also be interested in.
As with any type of content you will see lots of less useful posts, but a quick glance at the number of views and users will tell you whether it’s relevant/popular or not.
These ‘Question Stats’ help you avoid tangents and keep your research focused on your target audience.
Create A Target Audience Persona Statement
Now that you’ve been through a thorough research process you should have a clear understanding of the audience that you are targeting.
To make use of this vital business information you must produce one simple statement that clearly describes your audience.
This sentence articulates their persona.
For example here’s Class:PR’s target audience persona statement:
Our target audience consists of marketing professionals and entrepreneurs, of any age and gender, across the world, who have been tasked with promoting their brand and need to learn how to do PR. Quickly.
Our step-by-step guides, template packs and online courses make learning public relations fun, easy and accessible for the busy working professional, who needs to see results, fast.
Class:PR has a very specific niche.
We don’t target everyone and we don’t teach everything.
We’re specifically for marketing professionals and entrepreneurs who are responsible for marketing their own brand.
Marketing generalists often don’t have public relations expertise but frequently find it part of their job description and feel under pressure to deliver results, fast.
Our combination of step-by-step guides, template packs and online courses help marketing professionals study in a format that suits them and helps bring the best results for their company.
We are not limited to geography, we are a global company with students around the world.
Now it’s your turn…
Give it a go and write a target audience persona statement for your company.
Include the information that you think is most important for your brand.
Some examples are:
Our target audience is [gender] aged [age range], who live in [place or type of place], and like to [activity].
Our target audience is [gender] aged [age range], who earn [income range], , and need [a solution to problem] and need it [within timeframe].
Evaluate Your Decision
If you’ve gone through each of the sections above and produced a clear target audience persona statement then you should be pretty confident in what you’ve decided.
The next step is to test your audience and to see if they respond well to your messages, buy-in to your service and complete your call to action.
If you want to triple check you’re on the right track before you put resources behind testing then here are five important questions you can ask:
- Do I understand how my audience think and feel? Have I understood what influences them?
- Will my product/service/campaign bring value to my audience? Am I solving a problem for them?
- Do I understand what the intent of my audience is? Where are they in the buying process? Will I get enough engagement?
- Do I understand where they consume their information? Can I reach them with my message?
- Is my audience size large enough to hit my sales target? If your audience is too niche you may not get enough buy-in and you’ll need to cast your net wider.
Test, Track And Monitor Your Audience’s Progress
And last but not least, remember to continually test, track and monitor the progress of your target audience.
Ask yourself: how and to what level are you connecting with your target audience? Want content is resonating best and bringing what result?
Does engagement lead to an increase in website signups or sales? Is your target audience responding to your Call To Action?
Does your company’s current customer profile match the audience that you have targeted?
Be led by your data.
If your customer base is showing you that you were slightly off the mark with your predicted audience then don’t be afraid to make some changes.
This is a continuous process of trial and error, refinement and adjustment. Consumer behaviour wants and demands continually change and this should be reflected in your targeting.
Now It’s Your Turn…
Research and refine your target audience – you’ll be amazed by the impact it has on your sales.
And if you’re ready to take your PR work to the next level grab our PR Starter Kit.
Our must-have kit has every template, script, strategy and guide you’ll ever need to do PR – all in one place.