How to define your target customer

There’s a saying, ‘talk to everyone and speak to no one.’ This is exactly why you need to have a target customer in mind with any marketing activity. In this blog post, I’m going to explain why you need a target customer and how to work out who they are.

Why do you need a target customer?

Let’s face it. Your products are not for everyone. However amazing it would be for every single person on the planet to need what you’re selling, they don’t. Sorry! And there’s no point in spending your marketing budget on people who aren’t going to buy.  

We know how hard it is to secure a budget, so don’t spank it on poorly targeted campaigns that aren’t going to get the ROI you need to make your boss happy and keep that budget coming for your next campaign idea. 

Having a target customer means you can better focus your marketing activity to reach the people who are most likely to convert into customers. It’s not to say that you can’t sell to anyone, but you’re not going to market to everyone.  

What’s the difference between target market and target customer?

These are similar words but it’s all about specifics. Your target market is broad. Perhaps your target market is small businesses. That’s still a big group of people. Are they all interested in your product? Probably not.

You then might have multiple, more specific, target customers within your target market. So, going with our small business target market, one target customer might be small business owners with less than 10 employees based in Kent, who need telephony solutions.

Having this target customer will enable you to focus your marketing messages and tailor your campaigns so that they resonate with the people you’re aiming them at.

How to define your target customer

When working out who your target customer is, you need to dig deep. If you don’t go far enough, people who are actually very different can seem very similar on paper.

You’ve probably seen the comparison between Ozzy Osbourne and our new monarch, King Charles. Both are men born in the UK in 1948. So, similar demographics. They’ve also both been married twice and are wealthy, living in palatial homes. Both men are also partial to a four-legged friend. However, this is pretty much where the similarities between His Majesty and the ageing rockstar end.

So where should you start?

First, look at your existing customers and the data you already hold on them. How old are they? Where do they live? What are their interests?

It can be really helpful to send out customer surveys. Then you can ask everything you want to know, including what their pain points are, what they take into consideration when making a purchase, and so on.

You should also look at your Google Analytics to find out:

  • Which channels users are coming from
  • Which devices they’re using
  • Topics that resonate with them
  • What terms they’re searching for.

Check out your competition!

Have a nose at your competitors’ ads, what channels they’re using and what their messaging is. This will give you an idea of who they’re targeting. Where does your target audience overlap and where can you see gaps?

From this, you’ll be able to think about how you’re going to position your products and your brand to be able to compete. You might also see gaps in the market where you can swoop in and dominate.  

Define who your target audience isn’t

One way to help define your target customer is to pay attention to who you don’t want to target. Who isn’t going to buy your product? You’ll then be able to home in on who you are going to target.

For example, is your demographic women or women between the ages of 20 and 40? There’s no point in spending money targeting people who won’t convert.

Create personas

Personas are fictional characters who are representing your target customers. These are particularly useful if your products appeal to a wide audience because you can think about all the different types of people who might need your product.

Although they’re made-up people, if you use real data to pull personas together, they become super helpful for marketers and small business owners who are defining their target customers. I think it helps that you can imagine a real person and their attributes. It’s actually quite a fun task! But maybe that’s just me…

When creating personas include all these points:

  • Name them – I love a bit of alliteration here, think Plumber Paul or Driver Dan
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Hobbies – this can seem unnecessary but it’s super helpful to think about what else they are interested in, apart from your product, of course 😉 But if you know that your target customer spends their free time running, mountain biking and coaching their kids’ football team then you can tailor your messaging to them much easier. It gives you an angle.
  • Income
  • Education level
  • Profession
  • Marital status/life stage – empty nester, for example
  • Who they trust – friends and family, social media influencers, etc.
  • What they read/watch
  • Challenges/pain points – this is one of the most important parts. If you understand the challenges that your persona needs to overcome, you can work out how your product will solve those problems and tailor your messaging.

To help with this process, we’ve created a persona worksheet which you can download here.

If you’re a B2B business, some of the above points will need to be tailored and some ditched entirely. Just use your common sense. Switch out things like income for budget and include the size of the business your target customer works for and the titles of people who tend to make the buying decisions.

Room for improvement

As you continue to gather data and interact with your customers, you’ll get to know your customers better. Tweak your target customers and personas as you gain a more accurate understanding of who they are.

Your target customer is the person you need to keep at the front of your mind when coming up with any marketing activity. Without one you could end up with a generalised campaign that speaks to nobody. Instead, you need to think niche and really target a specific persona so that your message resonates and drives them to buy your product.

Interested in learning more?

We run target audience workshops and we make it fun for your whole team, sometimes it helps to have an outsider perspective, get in touch.


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