Small Business Marketing by Jillian Shaw Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations for the Small Business

Defining Your Business’s Audience

03.11.2010 · Posted in Advertising, Geotargeting, Targeting

Small Business Target Audience Bow and Arrow

The number one mistake that many small business owners make when approaching advertising is not defining their audience.  Instead of figuring out who is most likely and most willing to purchase a service or product, lots of small business owners assume that hitting the widest audience is always the best way to go.  WRONG.  Could not be more wrong, in fact.

Defining the target audience for your small business increases your return on investment (ROI) dramatically, saves you time, money, effort, and unnecessary frustration.  Here are a few key factors to take into consideration when defining your target audience:

  • Geography.  If you have a brick and mortar business, obviously location should be a primary factor in determining where you advertise.  Let’s say you’re buying an ad in a newspaper.  The largest  paper that a lot of people in your town get may be from a larger city relatively nearby.  It’s going to cost you an arm and a leg to advertise in a publication with that kind of circulation.  But maybe there are smaller, local weekly or even daily publications that are more relevant to your location and tons cheaper to advertise in.
  • Demographic.  What ethnicity is your target customer?  What religion?  How much money does your target market tend to make?  How old are they? All of these factors and more may help you target your business’s advertising to produce a better placed ad.  For example, my parents own a Catholic bookstore (the Notre Dame Book Shelf), located right across the street from the only Catholic Church that has a Mass in Spanish.  They also carry religious items used primarily in the hispanic culture.  So where should they advertise?  How about putting an ad in English and Spanish in the bulletin of that Church?  How about a local Spanish language news publication?  Not to mention other liturgical Church bulletins and newsletters.
  • Special Interests. If you sell a niche service or a product specific, try to figure out what other things your target customer would like, or what ‘type’ of person your desired audience is.  You should be able to glean some insight into your potential customers’ interests by talking to your current customers.  For example, if you sell scrap-booking supplies, the majority of your customers are probably women, most likely those with families, and you may go even further and say stay-at-home moms.  So where should you advertise?  Maybe you can put an ad in an elementary school publication, or hang flyers at the Gymboree or the YMCA.  Most bigger towns have parenting magazines that you can pick up for free that offer cheap advertising space.  Maybe they’ll even let you write a feature story about scrapbooking, like a how-to or beginner’s guide.

Basically, defining your audience challenges you to sit down and focus on who your target customer really is, and then figure out where they will best find your message.  Set aside 10 or 15 minutes to think about those things and come up with a list of traits common to your customers, and find advertising opportunities that match that list.

Jillian's Currently Reading: Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business
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