Defining Your Ideal Target Audience

They say 10% of the population hates the taste of cilantro (we think they’re crazy).

Can you imagine if cilantro farmers spent their time trying to convince that 10% to buy cilantro? What about people who don’t even cook with greens and herbs?

Defining and understanding your target audience means that you will get a higher return on the time, money, and effort you spend reaching them, and it makes all the difference when it comes to determining how to reach them, how to communicate with them, and how to cater your services to them.

We work with a lot of passionate small business owners, and that audience is always in mind when we create content for our {Un}blog, write our Monthly Round-Up, prepare for consultations, and deliver our final work. Everything we have learned about finding a target market has been from experience (Lisa has more than 20 years of it!), and from researching how others are finding their tribe, too.

Here are 7 ways you can choose the right target market for you, and get to know them a little better:

Understand the problem(s) that you solve. You’re in business to solve a problem. Whether you realize it or not, any service or product that people will pay for solves something! What problem are you trying to solve? Who is most likely to have that problem? This can be a broad problem like, “What are we going to eat for dinner tonight?” or a niche problem like, “How can I dry my clothes without chemicals?”

Envision specific demographics and psychographics. Be very specific when envisioning the type of person who is meant to buy your product. Having an idea of their age, gender, location, and income level is just the beginning. What do they do for a living? Are they married? Do they have kids? Once you have that, you can start to consider their personality, their attitudes, values, interests, lifestyles, and what other products they buy that might compliment yours.

Empathize with your audience. Maybe more than one type of person suffers from the problem that your product or service solves. Start grouping these people by commonalities they share. Understand them to the point where you understand their problems and how they currently try to solve them. This will help you figure out your positioning compared to your competition in your industry, and will help you determine what messages you want to get across to them through your marketing.

Pay attention to what’s working. If you’re already in business and you’re trying to appeal to everyone, take a pause to determine which of your customers and desired customers are engaging with you on social media, sharing your content, and most importantly, buying your product or service. Focus on those people, expand on what’s working, and find more potential customers that are like them.

Take a peek at the competition. But just a peek! Know who they are targeting and how, but also know that you don’t have to do what they’re doing. Maybe there’s a niche that they’re not serving. Maybe they’re overlooking a really important problem that their current customers have.

Where does your target market get their information? Nowadays almost everyone is online and on social media, so you should make sure you have an online presence. If your audience reads the newspaper, try getting some editorial written. If they get their information from a family member or friend, maybe there’s an indirect way for them to learn about you.

Re-evaluate, constantly. When Lisa started her business, her clients (not to mention her business model) looked very different than it does today. Be willing to change with the industry, and always go where your values take you. Know when something’s not working and then re-set your sails.

And, if you farm cilantro, forget the 10% — find your people instead.


This post is a resource from The Borden Workbook, our comprehensive guide to help entrepreneurs organize and grow their small businesses. The Borden Workbook is used in conjunction with consultation with Borden Communications, or as an organized guide you can used on your own to launch, develop, and nurture your small business (starting now!). We take pride in creating a clear and humble approach to good business tactics that everyone can understand and execute.