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Defining your audience

Although understanding your potential audience is touched upon in another of our small business guides, trying to pin down who exactly the target audience for your product is can be quite tiring and a little tricky even at the best of times.

It also nicely ties in with really helping you drill down into the different customer segments when it comes to developing a content marketing strategy.

selectively focused picture of an audience at a concert. Get an overall picture when figuring out your audience

So, you've got your next great idea, it's all planned out and you're excited to show the world your great product or service. You know people are going to love it and wonder what they did before your product came along. However, you need to slow down for a second and figure out exactly who is going to be buying and using your product or service.

Although you might think that your product or service is the best thing since sliced bread (and therefore the greatest invention since 1928), unfortunately not everyone is going to think the same.

Before you start sinking money into making your dream a reality, you need to figure out how much demand there is for it, how many customers you'll potentially have, and the reasons behind them wanting to own or use your product/service in the first place.


Demographics cover a lot of ground, studying what separates or brings us together by nature of belonging to certain categories. Below are the main categories we mean when talking about them:

  • Age - what age range are users of your product or service likely to be?
  • Gender - is your product or service aimed more towards men, or women? Or does it simply not matter at all?
  • Economic background - how expensive is your product? Does this mean that those of a certain socioeconomic status are more likely to purchase your product? On the flip side, is it something that is aspirational, that those who can't quite afford it yet look forward to using or owning?
  • Geographic location - is the product or service very localised, and where can people get access to it? If it is only available in one country then your target audience is going to be much smaller compared to something that does not depend on where the customer lives or is available in many regions.

picture of bearded man smiling against a blue brick wall in a happy mood. Understand the mood of your customer when defining your audience

How does it fit into their lifestyle and their mood?

Although mood might be an odd point to consider, ideally you really want to try and put yourself in the shoes of your customer(s). This means taking a good look at how they are as a person psychologically. What are their purchasing decisions, and what are their attitudes in life?

The marketing behind consumer psychology is well researched, and a lot of time is spent looking at personality, and values people hold in order to try and get them to purchase products or services. In some cases without even realising the marketing of the product to the consumer- the product simply makes sense and is a perfect fit. This leads us to the lifestyle as a whole of the customer.

By creating a picture of the different lifestyles your customers lead, you can begin to see ways of getting the message of your product across in the most effective manner. Is your product more of a utility- something that consumers use daily but is there quietly in the background making their life easier?

Alternatively, is your product or service aspirational? Something that customers look forward to owning. Either because of aesthetic reasons (e.g. fashion), or because of the high cost of membership (luxury). Often, these two (utility and aspiration) overlap.

By understanding where your product fits into the lifestyle of buyers, you gain a better idea of how you're going to market your product/service, and to an extent how you're going to structure your pricing.

Are they active or passive?

When we talk about active or passive audiences, we don't mean whether they're introverted or extroverted as an individual- what we really want to try and gauge is whether they are truly interested in the product and it would be an instant purchase for them or whether it is something they have heard of and might purchase in the future should the need arise.

Alternatively, they might already have a competitor's product but would consider switching later on in the future if necessary, or if new features were to lure them away and the cost of switching weren't too significant.

Active audience- what exactly are they?

Active audiences are those that are your main target audience. They respond well to your brand, are engaged with it, and tell others about it. They take an interest in new products/features, and the product itself fits well into their lifestyle. Commonly it is something that they use regularly (if not daily), or give meaning to in the sense of personal identity. Often, they will play the role of a brand ambassador.

Passive audience- what does it mean?

Passive audiences are those who are aware of your product or brand, but it does not fit their lifestyle (either at all, or simply not at this point in time). Subtly, they might pick up the marketing message, but may not act upon it unless there are certain conditions that make them begin to consider the product/service as a viable choice.

Summing it all up

The takeaway points of all the above essentially boil down to:

  • Customer demographics - how do we categorise customers by age, their background, and their location?
  • Their overall lifestyle- where does the product fit in their life? Is it functional and a utility? Or is it something aspirational and personal?
  • How likely are they to engage with the product or service? Are they going to take great interest and find it suits them? Or are they aware of your product, but not interested enough to want to buy it at the moment - or ever?

Although the saying “If you build it, they will come” sounds nice in theory, realistically it’s not the best way to go about launching your product. Defining your target audience and your different customer segments are absolutely crucial to the success of your product/service to get it off the ground- because without customers, you won’t manage to stay in business.

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