3 Finding my target audience
Target audience is a subject that marketing and branding professionals spend significant time on. Failing to identify the correct target audience risks wasting time and money, potentially attracting the wrong audience, or creating communications that are too generic to be effective.
Focusing on a small business context, Blick (2013, pp.42–44) explains that successfully reaching your target audience is a two-stage process:
- Identifying it – considering the type of customer group that your business will appeal to. The smaller the target group, the more manageable it becomes to reach them.
- Researching it – getting to know the target audience before you start to communicate with it.
This process is just as applicable in the personal branding context. For example, there might be numerous potential employers that your brand will appeal to, so how can you narrow them down to make communicating with them a manageable proposition? Blick suggests some practical questions that you could adapt and apply to yourself (p.43), for example when considering employers you’d like to work for, such as:
- Will you only be targeting certain postcodes, towns, counties, etc.?
- Do you only want to target businesses of a certain size?
- Can you be more specific about the type of business? For example, if you’ve identified ‘schools’ as your target audience, can you narrow that down to certain types of schools?
Blick also suggests a variety of research methods that are equally relevant to personal branding (pp.44-45), including:
- Searching online for forums or blogs that your target audience may belong to [or co-ordinate/produce themselves]
- Subscribing to publications that your target audience reads
- Calling businesses you’d like to connect with to find out how they currently use your type of business or service [in a personal context that might include asking where they advertise vacancies or what skills they are short of, etc.]
- Finding out if your target audience belongs to a membership organisation or group that has events, conferences, etc. that you could potentially attend.
If you can gain a better idea of what the organisation is looking for and whether that matches what you have to offer, and can identify key people to approach for more information, you can significantly enhance your chances of success when making applications.
In the recruitment world, the more targeted and well-researched your application, the more likely you are to be invited to interview.
Activity 4 Tara’s target audience
Tara is unhappy at work. She wants to change direction but has no idea where to start. She is currently a retail assistant in a high street clothing store, but would love to be a landscape gardener. She has GCSEs but no relevant gardening qualifications. Her relevant experience comes from gardening at home and volunteering to help maintain the plants in a local park.
Referring to Blick’s advice, outlined in this section, what would you suggest Tara does next? Write a bullet pointed list in the box below.
You might have suggested:
- Tara decides whether she wants to stay where she is or move away and makes a list of potential employers in her chosen locations.
- Tara subscribes to some relevant publications and joins online blogs and forums about landscape gardening. This might give her some information on employment in the sector and allow her to gain some useful contacts.
- Tara finds the contact details of relevant employers, e.g. garden centres, plant nurseries, landscape gardening companies, and gets in touch to find out what jobs might be suitable for someone with her experience, where they advertise them, etc.
- Tara could also ask for work experience with some of these potential future employers, or ask for advice about courses and qualifications she could undertake.
Once she has researched the sector in more detail, she’ll have a much better idea about her next move.
Now you understand the importance of knowing your target audience and what their needs are, the next step is to look in more detail at brand positioning.