In a broad sense, your target audience is the specific demographic that is most likely to find your product or service useful or appealing. The more precisely you are able to define your target audience, the more value you will get for your marketing efforts. In other words, if you know who you are selling to, then you can create messages and find advertising mediums that will reach that audience directly.
When you hire a qualified digital agency to handle your marketing, one of the first things that agency is going to do is work to identify your target audience. You can help the process along by understanding the methods used to develop a target audience, and the kind of information that is required to formulate your own demographic.
The best way to start understanding your customer base is to list all of the obvious people who would be interested in what your company has to offer. For example, if you sell protective clothing for industrial work, then you can safely assume that industrial workers are part of your target audience. When you start your target audience development with practical observations, it can inspire you to dig deeper and look for less obvious answers.
One important part of the selling process that many companies forget is to collect as much demographic information on their customers as possible. With an online business, it is easy to get your customer's address and phone number. But you should also develop client satisfaction surveys that ask for information such as your customer's income, their age, their product preferences and anything else that will help you to clearly identify who your customers are. With that information, you can get a head start on identifying your customer base.
Whenever you go to corporate websites, you will notice that there are invitations to take several surveys or fill out online forms. If you fill out a form, you get a free membership to the company's online newsletter or some sort of reward like that. This is called market research, and it is a critical step in understanding your target audience. With this information, you can start to understand the people who are attracted to your product or service, but have not yet purchased from you.
Your competition is not going to tell you what its target audience is, but you can find out for yourself simply by paying attention to who is buying the competition's product. You may be out at a restaurant one day and see someone using your competition's product that you would never expect to see using it. You can also go to online message boards and social media groups dedicated to your competition's product to see exactly who is buying those products and why. This will help you to expand your own target audience, and to find new markets to explore for the future.
It is impossible to create cost effective marketing plans without knowing the target audience you are speaking to. When you understand your target audience, then you can create marketing that speaks directly to the needs of your customers and develop advertising that will be much more cost effective.