Why Do You Really Need a Target Audience?


Why do marketers always ask if you have a target audience? Why not just tell the client what to do? You know, a step-by-step tutorial. Isn’t marketing just marketing? Why does it matter?

It may seem odd, but there is method to this madness.

Target More, Spend Less

The reason we ask is because we’re trying to find out how to help you and what to recommend. It matters because what’s appropriate for a business trying to reach Fortune 500 companies is not suitable for a business who wants to sell  hangers to local dry cleaners.

Choose the Right Message

If you were going to do a logo for a toy store, you’d choose different fonts, colors, and design elements than you would if you were creating a logo for a funeral home. The first should be lively and happy and bright. The second should be somber and reassuring.

Spending a lot of time creating a cheery logo for the funeral home would be a mistake. The client would be unhappy and you’d probably have to redo it (costing you time and money). If you spend a lot of time and money trying to reach “everybody,” you’ll end up with fewer clients (not more). Market to fewer people, and you’ll earn more.

Get More Money

You need a target audience so you know where to focus. Picture a real archery target. There’s a big red circle in the middle, and rings around it. Hitting the circle gets you 10 points. Hitting one of the rings gets you fewer points. The further the ring is from the center, the fewer points you get. If you miss the target entirely, you get nothing.

Marketing works the same way.  If you hit the center of the target (your ideal customer) and you make money. Hit something close, you make some money, but not as much. Miss the target entirely, you get nothing.

Let’s say you’re selling  car insurance for commercial fleets.  Your ideal customer might be moving companies. A close second could be florists or contractors.  They all have several vehicles, which get a lot of use, and have to be insured.  On the other hand, copywriters and designers likely only need a single car, for their own use.  Marketing to them (and I have personally received offers for this) is a complete miss.  That sort of marketing is completely broken (and unfortunately, too common).  It costs lots of money, but earns very little.

On the other hand, once you have a real ideal customer profile, you can then narrow down where you look for prospects, what to offer them. and how you reach them. Think like a fisherman. Go where the fish are.

Photo: Sachin Ghodke

2 thoughts on “Why Do You Really Need a Target Audience?

  1. Marketing has been a complicated principle for me. Thanks for giving me a little insight about this subject. 🙂

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