Business, Marketing, Strategy
February 9, 2017
Is your target audience too broad?
Is your target audience too broad?

In a perfect world, EVERYONE would be scrambling to buy your product or service. While reality isn’t quite that extreme, you can still have a high growth, profitable business if you have a smaller target audience.

One of the first questions I ask clients is “who is your target audience?” More often than not, the answer is so broad it would be tough to put together a cohesive strategy. While targeting a broader audience may sound like more potential customers, at least half of them aren’t interested in what you are selling. Why waste your time and money trying to target people that would never be customers? Your resources (including your time!) would be better spent targeting a smaller, niche audience at first and growing from there.

If you aren’t sure if your audience is too broad, there are a few things to consider.

What’s going on in your industry as a whole?

Within your industry, the audience is divided into broad categories or segments. As you add more defining criteria, the segments become smaller. For example, an audience can be segmented by:

  • Gender
  • Gender, age
  • Gender, age, geography
  • Gender, age, geography, income
  • Gender, age, geography, income, education level
  • Gender, age, geography, income, education level, ethnicity
  • Gender, age, geography, income, education level, ethnicity, interests/hobbies

And the list could go on. As you add a new criteria at each level, the number of people you are targeting will become smaller and more targeted (niche).

Each industry has broad segments and more targeted segments that are already defined. The next step would be to look at your competitors and who they are targeting. If they are a larger, more established company, they may be targeting a broader segment, but your smaller competitors are likely targeting more niche audiences. It is best to start off with a niche audience that isn’t being targeted as strongly by a competitor and create loyalty there before conquering a larger industry segment.

Listen to the customers you already have

If you already have customers, figure out who they are and how they fit into your desired target audience. A niche audience will have common pain points/needs, so if you can find similarities between your existing clients, then you can start to create a better audience profile.

Other things to consider when building a target audience profile from existing customers are how they found you and why they purchased from you in the first place. These types of behavioural segmentation criteria will allow you to develop a marketing strategy that caters to your target audience’s purchase behaviours. If they found you via a post card in a coffee shop or a flyer, you would want to invest in more direct marketing and guerrilla type tactics to reach your audience old-school style. In that case you might also invest less in your digital strategy as a whole.

What is your marketing budget?

A smaller marketing budget will get you a higher return on your investment if you target a niche audience versus if you try to target too many people. Printing and delivering 100 flyers is cheaper than printing and delivering 1000, and in the digital world, your Facebook ad money will go further if you target a smaller segment with your ad budget. If you are trying to stretch your budget further, talk to fewer people and realize the return on your marketing efforts, then expand once you have more revenue coming in.

Find your happy medium

While your audience can be too broad, it can also be too narrow. If you have an audience that is too narrow, you won’t have enough customers to target. You need to look at what you feel are your best brand attributes and match that to audience segmentation criteria. If you start out and your audience is too broad or too narrow, then you can always adjust your approach. Strategic planning before you start outreach will help you find that happy medium.

While you may be using multiple different touchpoints to reach your target audience, always remember that your target market is made up of qualified leads that want what you are selling and are willing to pay for it. If you try talking to everyone, then you’ll likely end up talking to no one, so your best bet is to find your niche and then grow your audience once you have conquered that market.

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  • […] you have a small or a large audience, here are a few strategies that you can incorporate into your own customer engagement […]

  • Thank you so much for the article. Actually, It’s too broad when you are having trouble isolating the specific pain point your product and It’s too narrow when you have succeeded at the above but find yourself with too few prospects. Both of these are critical learning points for a young company.

    • Candace says:

      Hi Anthony! You are so right. Finding that happy medium is always best. But it’s also important to realize that it’s not just young companies who experience this. As businesses grow, so does their target audience in most cases. It’s a constant reminder that companies need to keep evolving to truly connect with their audience.

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