Delimiting and defining your target audience is the starting point for any business plan, marketing strategy or brand architecture; yet it’s a discipline that many struggle with, often defaulting to limiting or misleading perspectives and measures. As Michael Dell stresses, “The idea of being all things to all people is a thing of the past.” Finding a target audience that maximises your market potential in both the immediate and long-terms requires a delicate balance between being too broad and unfocussed, versus becoming too niche and missing the wider opportunity. In order to achieve this, we must evaluate potential audience groups across a range of different dimensions in order to understand, qualify and assess their appeal. The following ‘5 As Target Audience Model‘ outlines 5 key aspects that need to be considered when looking at candidate audience groups, enabling the business to hone in on its ‘Optimum Target Audience’.
The 5 As Target Audience Model
How big is the potential audience in absolute terms? Is the audience growing and at what rate? Is this likely to be sustained over time?
Depending on the nature of your product or service, the ‘Amount’ will relate to the number of individuals, groups or organisations that constitute your potential audience. You also need to understand the structure of your audience in terms of the relationship between users / consumers and buyers which, depending on your business model, will determine your immediate priorities in order to succeed, i.e. which of these groups to focus on.
How much available spend do they have? Specifically, that they could allocate to the need that you’re looking too fulfill?
In any commercial entity there’s little relevance in having a substantive audience if they’re unable to pay you for the product or service that you’re offering (or a potential advertiser if this is your model). Not only should you therefore consider how affluent the members of the audience group are in relative terms, but also how much of their budget is available to you? How big is the pot that they could utilize in order to meet the need that you’re addressing? The actual level of spend available to you can be limited by a number of factors including legal or regulatory, previous precedence, or psychological. You need to ascertain these parameters when making your assessment.
How much competition is there for this space amongst the audience? How embedded are these players? How close are they to your offering? What resources do they have that they could bring to bear to defend their market? How much loyalty does the audience currently demonstrate?
The level of incumbent competition will determine how much effort and resource will be required to effectively market your offering to the respective audience, which will consequently have implications for your business model. Invariably there is always competition in some form so it’s important to observe what the nature of this competition is and how you’re offering relates. Being ‘different’ in and of itself is not enough – being different merely provides an alternative and the effort required by the audience to move to alternatives is too great. You need to therefore look for advantages – how are you better? Better creates preference and people will move if there’s an apparent upside.
How easily and efficiently can you reach this group for marketing and distributing your product or service?
If you can’t access the audience to either communicate your offering, or ultimately to distribute and deliver your product or service to your intended customers, then you won’t have a business model. The less friction there is to get to them, the less effort and resources will be required for Marketing, Sales and Distribution.
How much appeal is there amongst this group for your idea? How big is their need for the solution that you’re offering? How willing and likely will they be to pay for a solution based on the need that you’re looking to fulfill?
Finally and fundamentally, you must consider how aligned your offering is to the needs of the audience. How big is the problem that you’re solving for to them, and how much do they want to solve it? Is your solution a strong fit for this and will it satisfy all of their requirements and desires? The stronger the audience’s need and the more aligned your solution, then the greater the value that you’ll be able to generate and the more potentially lucrative the audience.
Evaluating Audience Groups
When evaluating multiple audience groups, it’s useful to score each of the above aspects and enter the results into a grid in order to see how each group performs against the others under consideration. The following link provides such a tool that allows you to summarize your observations and findings, and then score each audience in order to rank their appeal:
Determining your target audience can be somewhat ‘chicken-and-egg’; often the idea comes first and then you look to fit the audience to it. It’s crucial though, to ensure that you are addressing an audience that satisfies the above requirements if you’re to build a successful and sustainable business and brand.