Tips for defining your target market

Who are you hoping to reach with your messages? The first thoughts that come to mind are usually broad categories like “alumni,” “millennials” or “Illinois residents.” But it’s important to get even more detailed about your audience. The more clearly you define your target group, the better you can understand how – and where – to reach your best prospects. 

In a recent post, I talked about why defining your target audience is important. Now let’s look at some tips on how to do that work.  

Start by looking at your current audience. Who exactly benefits from your “products” or offerings? (Those offerings could be academic programs, research labs, performances, community service, etc.) Who opens your e-newsletters and engages with you on social media? Who contributes to your unit the most? 

With that group of people in mind, hone in on specific characteristics by thinking through these details and identifying common characteristics and interests: 

  • Demographics: age, gender, income, geography, education, occupation, family status, ethnic background, use of financial aid, etc.  

  • Psychographics: personality, attitudes, beliefs, values, interests, lifestyles, behaviors, etc.

Next, look at past successes you’ve had in reaching your audience. Identify when and why they engage with you. Look at social media analytics to see if there are trends around the subject matter or type of post your audience is drawn to. It's very likely that other people with similar characteristics would respond in similar ways. 

Defining your target market is the hard part. Once you know who you are targeting, it's much easier to figure out which media you can use to reach them and what marketing messages will resonate with them. You’ll not only be more successful in engaging your audience, you’ll also save money by focusing your resources on marketing tactics with proven success.