If you want to maximize the success of your marketing efforts and product sales, start by identifying the right target audience for your product. With a specific target customer in mind, you can get more out of every marketing dollar and increase the effectiveness of your messaging.

Finding the right target audience contributes to success, whether you're launching a new product or improving your current marketing.

What Is a Target Market?

A target audience (sometimes called a target market) is a group of people who your product will most appeal to. You can get highly detailed when defining a target audience. Many marketers and business owners use demographics like age, gender, education, occupation, and ethnicity to identify current and potential customers. Other demographic information like marital status or education level can be important too.

When you have a nuanced understanding of your audience and their background, you can identify their pain points and market your product as a solution to those pain points. This type of customized marketing can make powerful connections with your audience, helping to drive sales.

3 Ways to Find the Right Target Audience

If you're unsure of how to define your product's audience, these three strategies can help your small business.

1. Analyze your product.

If you've already created your product but haven't yet identified your audience, your product itself can give you clues about your ideal buyer. Start by analyzing your product and make a list of its features. You've probably already identified these in the product description.

Next, identify the benefits that each feature solves. Let's take a vacuum that features self-cleaning rollers as an example. It offers the benefit of letting someone use it without having to stop and manually remove string or hair from the rollers.

Once you've identified the benefits of your product, list the problems these benefits solve. The vacuum's self-cleaning rollers solve the wasted time that comes with having to stop and detangle stuck vacuum rollers.

Now take your list of problems the product solves and make a list of different groups of people with those problems. You might identify groups of people by profession or by age at first. But you'll probably be able to get more precise as you think about new customers who have many reasons to buy your product. The vacuum might appeal to busy homeowners or professional cleaners who don't have time to spend detangling rollers in the middle of cleaning a house.

2. Analyze your competition.

Your competition can also provide insight into your ideal audience. Identify the top three or four products that compete with yours. Then, review their marketing strategies and social-media presence. Pinpoint the specific groups that each company is targeting with their marketing messages.

In some cases, your audience may be the same that these other products are targeting. Perhaps your product is like those other products but has certain unique qualities to it. In that case, your audience may be somewhat different but has specific needs that overlap into these target audiences.

3. Assess your current customer base.

I talk to many startup founders who examine their own customer base to learn valuable information about their products. This works best if your product is selling well. You want to see if your current customers have common characteristics. This could include their age, geographic location, profession, and more.

Since you might not immediately have access to in-depth customer data, create a customer survey. I can think of many small businesses that offered incentives to customers for completing a survey, such as discounts on future purchases or entries into contests.

Once you have information about your customers, look for common characteristics. You may be able to identify one or more different audiences. Then, perform more market research to better understand their pain points and how your product solves their problems.

Use Your Target Audience to Your Advantage.

Once you've identified it, design marketing campaigns for that specific audience. The more details that you have about your ideal customers, the more powerful and customized your marketing efforts can be.

I've seen companies try specific marketing plans to target different "buyer personas." Teams often use email marketing, content marketing, SEO, and many other forms of digital marketing. 

The next step is to use these audience insights for the future. They can influence future product updates, product development, and new product releases. This can strengthen your brand while increasing sales. Knowing your target audience influences your brand identity and often becomes the foundation of your overall marketing strategy.