What is the Difference Between a Target Market and Target Audience?

Your product or service isn’t for everyone. When it comes to identifying your customers, you may be thinking the more the merrier. I’ll promote my business to as many people as possible, and I am sure to get customers. If only creating promotions were that simple. Sending a message out to the world via social media, your website or an advertisement requires strategy. Without one, you’d be wasting serious money on people who have zero interest in your message.

Defining a target market and a target audience is crucial to achieving your business goals. At first sight, these terms seem to describe the exact same thing, but they don’t. Although the members of your target audience may fall within your target market, there are nuances that make them different.

Target Market

A target market is a group of people your product or service is intended for. They have the potential to buy your products or services, but they might not. Your goal is to get your business in front of them and build your brand awareness in hopes that they will. A target market consists of a very large and very broad group of people that can be broken into segments based on specific demographics. For example, you may segment your target market based on age, gender, income and interests to better define your message. An advertisement or post that is directed to your target market will most likely be product driven, highlighting the utility or software of your product or service.

Target Audience

A target audience is a group people within your target market that have a significant potential to respond positively to a brand message. This is a much more narrow group of people in comparison to a target market. These people can purchase your products or services, but they aren’t always who the product or service is intended for. This group also consists of individuals you want sharing your content or products and services with others.

For example, a flower shop has a very large target market because many different people have reasons to buy flowers. But the florist industry is driven by annual events, such as Mother’s Day, Valentines Day, weddings and more. For each occasion, the florist may choose to target specific audiences within their target market to encourage sales. During Mother’s Day, a florist would cater their message to people with mother figures in their lives. The target audience in this scenario would consist of fathers, children, grandchildren and anyone else who meets this criteria. Although the target audience for the message changes, the florist’s target market remains the same.

You may want to get even more specific with your target market. A popular florist company in St. Pete is Posies Flower Truck. This floral shop on wheels travels throughout the Tampa Bay area and caters to events and local markets. They’ve even partnered with local coffee shops and other businesses to bring their customers a memorable experience. The typical brick and mortar flower shop’s target market does not apply to this company. Their flower truck caters to people who may not be expecting to purchase flowers, but who want the experience of creating their own arrangements and getting a cute photo with their truck in the process. These customers are going out of their way to visit a market which means they have money to spend. Thus, Posies can charge higher prices. Their socials are community oriented and they tend to showcase influencers in the Tampa Bay area. Although their target market isn’t typical for their industry, their business is still impacted by Mother’s Day and the other events previously mentioned and they use their socials to promote their location during these times. Other flower trucks similar to Posies do exist, but this company has done a great job of finding a niche market that isn’t occupied in the Tampa Bay.What is the Difference Between a Target Market and Target Audience?

Identifying Your Target Market and Audience

Many people make the mistake of starting a business before they identify who their target market is. This is the wrong order in doing things. Before you develop your business, you should know who you plan to sell to. Afterall, the goal of identifying a target market is to create a sales and marketing strategy.

Startup businesses typically try to target people who are underserved. Identifying a market that is underserved means less competition. People in this group often have a problem that your product or service solves. There are first movers, people who develop a product first, and there are second movers, people who enter an existing market and create a competing product that works just as good if not better.

Once you identify your target market and create a product or service that meets that market’s needs, you can then identify target audiences you want to promote messages to. Each piece of marketing material should have a specific audience in mind. A campaign directed at a target audience should be thought driven to promote engagement.

Some target markets can be oversaturated with products and services that are similar to your own. In order for you to attract an audience, you need to stand out. That means using strategies that are effective, innovative, and sometimes risky.

How To Target Your Audience

You may want to target a large group of people, but in doing so you will most likely want to target several niche segments to make your campaign as impactful as possible. One new brand that has done a great job of identifying its target market and audiences is the Smile Direct Club, a leader in consumer access to teledentistry for straight teeth and healthy smiles.

Although many people within various age ranges could potentially want to straighten their teeth with this product, Smile Direct Club isn’t targeting everyone. Instead, they are targeting young people who want the quick convenience of a straightening system sent directly to their doors. Their product is ideal for this market. It is extremely affordable and gives millennials the instant gratification that they’ve become accustomed to. Their branding is fresh and their brand personality falls with the excitement personality dimension.

So, although the company’s target market may be individuals 12 years old and up looking for affordable teeth straightening options, their website and social platforms suggest that their target audiences are young professionals and students who are cool, fun and want to put their best foot forward.

The company targets these audiences using influencer marketing with high profile celebrities, like Shawn Mendes. The company is extremely active on social media, which shows that they know where their audiences live. Especially Instagram where they share user generated content to promote their services and interact with their target audiences.

Developing target audiences is the best way to build authentic conversations and relationships with customers.  Some things just don’t appeal to some people. That is why targeted messages are so important. You won’t dissuade people from supporting your brand by publishing a targeted message, but you will attract a specific crowd that resonates with you’re saying.

Let’s Summarize

You can’t just build a business and expect to see customers. You need to identify a target market before you develop a service or product. Once you know who you want to consume your products and services, you can then create segmented groups known as target audiences to direct specific messages to. Target markets and audiences are important to your company’s success. The only opinions about your business that matter are those of your target market and audience. If you focus your gaze, you will be able to tell what criticism is valid and what is not.

Learn why target markets are critical, and why defining one is normally the first step in launching a successful business or product. Explore why target audiences are also important, and why going niche is the way to go.

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