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Updated Oct 24, 2023

How to Reach Your Target Customer

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Katharine Paljug, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer

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Knowing who will buy your product or service is critical to creating a thriving business. Businesses must specifically define their target audience early. If you want to improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and boost customer engagement, follow seven steps to create a marketing plan that reaches your ideal customer base.

What is a target audience?

A target audience is a consumer group likely to be interested in your product or service. Many companies base their target audience search on traits like gender, age, occupation, location, socioeconomic status and education level.

Identifying your customer base is essential to your marketing plan. When you know which groups to advertise to, you save money, time and resources that would be wasted marketing to consumers who aren’t interested in your offerings.

Why is it important to identify your target audience?

Getting the word out about your business is essential. However, each consumer wants something different, so advertising to certain groups could be a waste of time. Putting more time and resources into a region, demographic or class of buyers more likely to purchase your product will help you effectively allocate your marketing budget.

“At the beginning, most people have a pretty good idea of who will use their product,” explained Lindsey Myers, founder of Concrete Blonde Consulting. “The more specific you can get [with your strategy], the easier it is to reach those people for less money … and also to find new audiences and grow.”

Knowing who your product appeals to is crucial, allowing you to conduct a market analysis on your ideal customer. You can also research and study their needs and interests to improve your content strategy. Understanding your target audience helps you foster customer relationships, build customer loyalty and boost customer engagement.

TipTip

Use demographic data to understand your target customers’ characteristics. When you understand their needs and interests, you can focus your marketing efforts on the right audience.

Tips for identifying and reaching your target audience

Understanding who your customers are is vital to your business’ survival. Myers suggests seven tips to uncover and connect to your target audience.

1. Have a concrete plan to identify and reach your target audience.

To reach your target customer, you must first create an effective marketing plan.

“The more specific you can be, the more bang for your buck you’re going to get in your conversion rate,” Myers advised.

To draw up a buyer persona (your target customer profile), consider the following: 

  • Where do your customers get their information?
  • What are your customers’ interests?
  • What social media platforms do they use?
  • Where do they live?

You can use Facebook Insights on your Facebook Business page or other business social media analytics as a guide. A clearly defined customer profile and marketing plan allow you to reach your target demographic as economically as possible. 

“The more specific you can get [with your strategy], the easier it is to reach those people for less money,” Myers explained. “Don’t spend money for 10 people to hear your message when only three people are going to buy it.”

2. Create benchmarks to evaluate your marketing strategy.

Myers recommends setting clear benchmarks to track your performance. When you know where qualified leads are coming from, you can better direct your marketing efforts. 

“Start with your goals,” Myers advised. “You need something to reach for and also something to benchmark against.”

Set benchmarks for:

  • How well your marketing strategy converts leads into customers
  • What you’re spending on your marketing campaign 
  • What revenue you earn as a result 

Track lead conversions in your overall marketing results as well as how specific strategies convert. For example, if you run an ad, include a discount code customers can use when they purchase. Otherwise, you won’t know whether they found your company through the ad or another source.

“Track where leads are coming from so you know what is and isn’t effective … so you can adjust your spend later,” Myers recommended. “Then, if something’s not working, you try something else.”

Did You Know?Did you know

Direct mail may be old-school, but it’s still one of the best ways businesses can reach new and current customers. Incorporate quick response codes, coupons and other response mechanisms to gauge a direct mail campaign’s effectiveness.

3. Clarify your message to pinpoint your target audience.

Myers says businesses often make the mistake of sending unclear messages. “A lot of business owners … typically aren’t great at crafting a message because they’re so incredibly invested in [their business],” Myers explained. “[You should] communicate in one sentence or less what you are selling and why someone should care.”

Giving your audience a reason to care is essential to creating a marketing plan that reaches them. Use your target customer profile to identify their pain points, then create a concise, clear message focusing on how your business solves those problems.

4. Bring in an outsider to identify your target customer.

Business owners are incredibly invested in and knowledgeable about their products and services. For this reason, someone outside your company, such as a marketing or business consultant, should look at your marketing plan to ensure your strategy resonates with your intended audience.

“This is the biggest piece of advice I always give,” Myers noted. “You can’t do everything yourself. Consider a marketing consultant to help you put together a strategic plan or at least talk to an expert to help you come up with a strategy. If you can’t afford a marketing consultant, ask a friend. Bounce some ideas off someone on the outside.”

By sharing your plan with someone outside your business, you’ll get a clearer sense of how likely consumers will respond to your marketing positively.

5. Consider strategic partnerships to reach your target audience.

Part of your target customer profile should include where your audience can be found. You want to determine where your target customers will most likely see your marketing efforts. 

For example: 

  • What media do they consume? 
  • What social media platforms do they engage with? 
  • What activities do they enjoy? 
  • What locations do they visit? 

“Think about strategic partnerships,” Myers advised. “The best place to start in terms of marketing is to think about where these people are already gathered together in one place.”

To identify potential partnerships, consider businesses or media channels that have already attracted your customers.

“Look for businesses that aren’t competitors but already service those audiences,” Myers advised. Approach them with ideas for mutually beneficial partnerships, such as advertising, joint promotions or discounts.

6. Have a realistic timeline for reaching your target customers.

Though you want to start making sales quickly, a crucial part of reaching your target customers is having the patience to allow your marketing to work.

“The biggest mistake I see businesses make is … they don’t give something enough time to work,” Myers noted. “Marketing is like using a personal trainer … You’re not going to see results overnight.”

Your marketing plan should include a timeline, allowing each strategy enough time to succeed or fail before you move on to the next step. This includes being realistic about the time of year and how seasonal changes affect your customers’ needs and interests.

“If you see that something is failing terribly, OK, scrap that, move the money somewhere else,” Myers advised. “But most people don’t read something about you once and then buy … there is a frequency of impressions you need to make on one person before they move to action.”

TipTip

Lack of business planning is a problem that can kill a small business ― and identifying your target audience is a fundamental aspect of a solid business plan.

7. Focus on relationships with your target customers.

Think less about sales and marketing and more about customer relationships. Create a plan that builds their trust in your business and shows that you understand them.

Building consumer trust takes time ― another reason to be realistic about your marketing timeline. It also takes a community, including those strategic partnerships.

“Marketing is really about building relationships … not just taking, but something you can offer them too,” Myers explained.

According to Myers, many successful companies focus on getting involved in the community around them, from their customers to their colleagues.

“No one ever becomes successful on their own … if you watch the Oscars, people always have a lot of other people to thank,” Myers added. “Givers gain.”

Did You Know?Did you know

Consider hiring a marketing company to take your marketing efforts to the next level and gain expert assistance seeking strategic partnerships and outside opinions.

Grow your business through targeted marketing

When it comes to creating a marketing plan, you want the most bang for your buck ― which means determining who your target customers are and how to reach them. A successful strategy doesn’t bombard audiences with ads everywhere. In contrast, it tries to understand and connect with the customers most likely to patronize your business to build relationships with them. 

Once you know your customers’ behaviors and needs, you can craft relevant messages and place them where they will be most impactful. Following these tips will help you identify and reach your target audience, increase engagement and conversions and lead your business to thrive.

Tom Anziano and Simone Johnson contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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Katharine Paljug, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer
Katharine Paljug has spent more than 10 years advising small businesses on the digital marketing strategies required to gain exposure, convert leads and strengthen brands. She has partnered with a number of companies on social media management and consulting, website design and maintenance, and content optimization. Paljug's goal is to improve the online presence of each business she serves through cost-effective methods that increase profitability. With a strong understanding of small business finance, Paljug has also contributed to financial outlets like The Balance, First Quarter Finance and The Penny Hoarder. Her guidance has also been featured in HuffPost, SmallBizClub.com and YFS Magazine.
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