Course Content

Total learning: 4 lessons Time: 4 hours

Identifying Your Audience

Identifying Your Audience

Your target customer is your audience. This is the person (or business) that will use your product or service. You may think you know who your customer is but do you really? Research is key to identifying your audience.

Imagine you are selling bags. To give you a visual picture, this bag is made from vegan leather (created from ethically raised pineapples). The style of the bag is a tote bag. It will fit a small laptop, your wallet and your keys. It is unisex in design. This bag comes in standard colors of black, blue, beige and red.

Who is your customer?

The unisex design of the tote allows for customers to be male or female but a customer is much more than just gender. We have to take into account other factors such as:

  • Age
  • Income
  • Interests and Behaviors
  • Values
  • Need
  • Ease of Use/Adoption of New

These factors (and others) are used to create an ideal customer profile.

Age: How old is the average customer who will buy your product? The person who will buy or use this product is likely over the age of 20. You can also reduce the upper age range by taking into account at what age the bag would be too big for a senior to use.

Income: This tote is made from ethically raised pineapples. It is a unique tote and therefore has a significant cost. What income level will your average customer have to purchase a bag of this value? If the tote is a second-hand bag made from cheap materials and costs a fraction of the price of the vegan tote, who then would be your customer?

Interests and Behaviors: The customer purchasing this tote has a purpose in mind. They tend to carry a laptop or books. This tote is the size to carry what they need from day to day or for a special purpose.

Values: For many customers, values will affect purchase choices. Values may include quality of product, reputation of the business and social aspects. A PETA follower would likely avoid buying anything made from real leather or fur. A person fighting against bottled water would refrain from buying bottled water or other products made by that manufacturer. A new parent will evaluate products for chemicals that may be harmful to their child. Some customers value status and will buy a product or service for that reason alone. The latest phone, the hottest shoes, the new release fashion – these are all examples of items many customers buy simply for the status of owning it.

In the case of the sustainably farmed, ethically sourced vegan leather bag, the purchaser likely values ethically sourced sustainable farming, avoids real leather out of a sense of ethics and tends to make purchases that provide a social benefit. As we build our customer profile, we want to explore what values our customer may possess. How will these values affect their buying decisions?

Need: Does your customer need your product? Need comes in different forms. There is the need to own something new or to buy something because it is pretty. More often though, need it based on serving a purpose. Does your customer really need a tote? Does your customer carry a laptop? Does your customer like to carry any bag that rests on their shoulder? Is your customer replacing an old or broken bag or choosing a new tote for a new need? What does your customer currently do to solve their problem of carrying whatever they plan to put in the tote? Think carefully about why your customer needs your product. How is it solving a problem for them? This will help you to identify reasons why your customers will buy your product or service.

Ease of Use/Adoption of New: Sometimes businesses are launched based on poorly perceived need. This happens when we don’t properly research our client. Do you remember LaserDisc? If you are too young to recall that brief time in the 90s when someone thought record-sized CDs would replace VHS tapes, you did not miss much. Toted as higher-quality video and audio than current movie formats, VHS and BetaMax, LaserDisc was predicted to be the next big thing. But, LaserDisc failed to identify several user behaviors such as need versus ease of use.

Adopting LaserDisc technology required customers to purchase new equipment at great cost. Further, limited movies were released in LaserDisc format and the cost per movie was quite expensive compared to existing formats. The size of the LaserDisc also required more shelf height and made existing storage options obsolete.  There were simply too many behavior changes for many users. LaserDisc never really caught on though a few years later, DVDs would be released. Similar in size and style to CDs released almost a decade earlier, DVDs were easier for new users to adopt as they were already familiar with the CD and CD player. DVDs still required new equipment to play however the overall adoption of DVD technology was far easier in the mind of the consumer than that of LaserDisc.

User adoption (or User Experience) is one of the most overlooked aspects when introducing a new product or service. It must be considered along with need.  An idea or new product is virtually worthless if your customers cannot see the need or adopt new behaviors to use the product or service.

It’s time to describe your ideal customer. Using a sheet of paper (online is fine too but I’m a fan of visuals), describe your perfect customer as it relates to your product or service using the following headings:

  • Age Range
  • Income
  • Interests and Behaviors
  • Values
  • Need
  • Ease of Use/Adoption of New

Give this person a name, a career, an income. Who is your perfect customer?

Use this data as you review your marketing and networking activities to ensure you are reaching your target audience.