Nicole Stelmar
May 23, 2017

How To Identify and Understand Your Target Market

Target Market

You may be missing a vital piece of the content marketing puzzle. This is true whether you’re just starting out your adventure in content marketing or you established your tried-and-true strategy years ago. One of the most important components of an effective content marketing strategy is understanding your target market.

By having a clear understanding of who your audience is and what problems they are facing you can more effectively create content that will be valuable and address their needs.  When your target audience starts to believe that your company cares about the issues they face and can provide effective solutions, they are more likely to become customers.

The first step to creating valuable content is locking down a clear idea of who your buyers are.

Define Your Buyer

To better understand your customers, it’s important to create buyer personas. A buyer persona is a list of similar characteristics of your typical buyers. Looking at who your existing customers are and thinking about the additional markets you are trying to reach can help you create this profile.

When gathering information for your buyer personas, consider questions like:

  • What issues are these buyers facing?
  • What are their spending habits?
  • Which things do they seem to enjoy?
  • What types of jobs do they have?
  • What is their age bracket?
  • Where do they spend large amounts of their time, etc.

Make sure to add questions that are more specific to your business or industry, as well.

With the answers to these questions, you can start to construct your personas. Most businesses have more than one audience they are targeting, so it is likely that you will need to create more than one buyer persona.

Let’s take a look at this example from Buyer Persona Institute. While there is no exact template for how to construct your buyer persona, there are many free templates available online – like the one below – that serve as a good place to start. Tailor your buyer persona to be specific to the needs of your customer as well as the needs of your business.

Once you have a good idea of who your buyers are, you need to start pinpointing their needs.

Discover Their Needs

Identifying the issues your target market is trying to solve will help you to determine what questions or topics your content should cover. With this information, you can ensure that the content you are providing is addressing the specific needs of your customers. There are three great ways for you to discover exactly what your customers’ needs are and how you can provide content to address those needs.

Customer Relationship Management

Having a CRM system in place allows your company to easily track all interactions that you have with a client. Calls, emails, mailings, offers and sales can all be easily tracked. Together, they give you a clear picture of your relationship with the customer.

This data helps you to determine key pain points that your customers are dealing with. It also provides insight into what content has resonated with your customers previously and what hasn’t. Using this information, you can personalize content for a particular customer based on your previous relationship and your understanding of that customer.

A common way that CRM data is used to create content, is within an email marketing campaign. This email from Birchbox is customized for the specific customer based on their previous interactions with the company. Birchbox uses CRM data to create an email that will resonate with that buyer, based on their past purchases.


Surveys can be effective tools for gathering information directly from your customers. Done correctly, they give you direct insight into the wants and needs of your clientele.

To create effective surveys that supply truly useful information, keep the following in mind:

  • Short and simple is key. Remember people are busy and they are taking their valuable time to provide you with this feedback. Limit your survey to only necessary questions, keeping the questions simple. This may sound like the same thing, but make your questions easy to answer.
  • Get direct answers. If you ask yes/no style questions, you aren’t really getting at the heart of the customer’s opinion. This requires them to pick from one of two extremes – and often, neither is accurate. Using multiple choice and sliding scales helps them to accurately answer and gives you a clearer understanding of the real issue.
  • Allow for additional comments. You can do this by asking one or two open-ended questions or by having an “additional comments” box at the end of each of your questions. This allows the client to be really specific if they wish, and allows you to gather some great insights.
  • Keep questions separate. When you lump questions together you may not know exactly what part of the question the customer is answering. Ask one specific question at a time so you can be certain as to what issue or item the answer is relating to.

Using Your Survey Results

Your survey results supply you with valuable insight into what your customers are thinking. Use this information to create content using exclusive data that only you have.

SmartMove, a division of TransUnion, uses their proprietary survey data to create infographics like the one below. Another advantage to using survey data to create content, is that you can ensure the information is relevant to your audience.

Social Media Monitoring

There are two things you can learn from paying attention to social media. First what are your customers saying about you and your business? Second, but just as important, what are they saying about your competitors?

With this information, you can quickly learn what needs aren’t being met, what questions your target market has, and where you are succeeding and failing. Of course, this information can help you to improve your business and business practices. It can (and should) also be used to create content that will address these areas directly.

To assist you in keeping track of what is being said about your brand across all social media platforms, there are several social media management systems that you can get for free or for a small monthly fee. These will allow you to set up alerts based on keywords of your choosing. For example, your business name, products, services, brands, personnel, competitor names, etc.

By monitoring hashtags and conversations of their target market, beverage brand Tito’s is able to create content that will resonate with consumers. Every season, Tito’s uses social media monitoring to inspire a seasonal recipe that they share on their social media channels. The graphic below, along with the recipe itself, was influenced by the information they gathered from social media.

Highlight Product/Service Benefits

Many businesses make the mistake of only using content to sell customers on features of their products and services. Instead of trying to push the sale, use your content to demonstrate how your products/services will solve customers’ needs.

Things like how-to guides, step-by-step demonstrations and customer testimonials, can give your clients valuable information on how your business can address their needs.

It’s important to also include language that will invoke a reaction from your target market. Typically this message is financial (e.g. save 10%) or emotional (e.g. feel younger).

By explaining the benefits of your product/service in a way that appeals to your customer’s emotional side, your message is more likely to resonate with your target market. For example, beauty brand Colorescience uses emotional language such as “feel different”, “natural beauty”, “confidence”, and “reassurance” in the brand’s mission. These words and phrases evoke a feeling within customers that helps them to trust the brand.

Determine Where They Are

Trying to create content for every platform can be overwhelming. Instead of working to be everywhere, use the resources we have talked about in the previous steps to help learn what resources and social media sites your target market is using, and meet them there.

One way to determine where your target market engages most is by looking at these demographics from Sprout Social. Using these demographics, you can determine where your buyer personas are consuming and engaging with content the most. Then, you can focus on those platforms specifically.

For example, if your target clientele are cement subcontractors, you might discover they aren’t big on using Facebook or Snapchat, but that they regularly read emailed newsletters and blogs, or they participate in discussion boards.

Researching where your potential customers are spending their time helps to ensure you aren’t spending valuable time and resources creating content that will never reach your target audience.

It Pays to Know Them

Getting to know your customers is the best way to ensure you are creating valuable and engaging content. By engaging with them more effectively, you can ultimately turn your prospective customers into repeat buyers.

Over To You!

Do you have any comments regarding this subject? Whether you want to add to something I have written, or introduce an aspect you feel should have been included, please comment, below.


Featured Image: Copyright: ‘‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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Nicole Stelmar

Nicole Stelmar is a managing editor at 365 Business Tips, a new site geared towards helping small business owners grow their business. Nicole specializes in helping entrepreneurs master the art of content marketing and improve their digital presence.