How to Define Your Target Audience

In the vast world of small business marketing, it can be tricky to determine where to start when planning your next small business marketing campaign. Defining your target audience is a crucial first step when it comes to planning your next marketing move.

In this blog post, we’ll define target audience and examine why it’s necessary, key examples of target audience advertising, and how to properly identify your target audience.

Already know what a target audience is and just looking for some guidance?

What is a target audience?

A target audience is an identifiable group you want to target in your messaging, marketing, and advertising efforts. This is different from a target market, which identifies as the overall, broader potential customers for your business.

Your target audience is a more specific, niche group of people within your target market.

Why your small business needs a target audience

In the small business landscape, it’s easy to get swept away in the idea of marketing to everyone. Having a target audience is crucial to long-term marketing success for your small business because it means you can tailor the right messages to the right people. These targeted messages and advertising can significantly impact how effective your marketing is.

We’ll guide you through the process of learning about target audiences and how to choose the right target audience for your small business.

What’s the difference between a target audience and a target market?

Infographic: the differences between target audience and target market

A target market is an overall customer base; a target audience is a specified, identifiable group within that base. Ideally, you’d sell to your entire target market, though it’s no easy feat. By singling out a target audience, your advertising and marketing will prove more effective and fruitful in the long run. Let’s look at some examples of target market and target audience.

If you’re a coffee shop owner, your target market is anyone who drinks coffee. Your target audience would be a smaller niche within your target market with a common interest or trait. That might mean healthcare workers or people who live in a specific area of town. 

Your car repair shop’s target market is anyone who owns or drives a car; your target audience might be owners of vintage cars.

Regardless of the type of business you own, separating your target audience from your target market is an essential part of marketing.

The benefits of identifying your audience

1. Your message will resonate more

By having a target audience, you can pinpoint exactly who you’re trying to introduce your product or service to. This means that it’s easier to craft a message that you know will resonate with that group. You’re able to locate their pain points more easily and create messages centered around how your small business can make their lives better.

2. It’s better for your budget

Crafting targeted messages means that your message is more likely to be successful. Targeted marketing is preferred by 80% of consumers, with digital targeted marketing increasing CTR (click-through rates) by 670%, according to Gitnux. These specific audiences can give you a better idea of how much you should strategically devote to your marketing budget.

3. Marketing decisions become easier

When you know the specific demographic you’re trying to target, it makes it significantly easier to decide how to market to that group. Questions like, “Which platform should I post this on?”, “What time of day should this go live?”, and “What medium should this advertising be?” all become much easier to answer.

4. You can gain a new audience

Is there a segment of customers that you’re lacking? When you select a target audience, you can focus on the customers you haven’t been able to convert yet. If you notice a certain demographic steers towards your competitor, you can create a campaign that will resonate with them more.

5. It differentiates your small business

By creating a tailored campaign, you’re standing out from other businesses that try to market to everyone. The specificity of campaigns created with target audiences in mind increases the likelihood that your brand is remembered.

How to identify and define unique target audiences

You can create a target audience based on many different factors, but these are common demographics most businesses should consider:

  • Career
  • Reason for using your product/service 
  • Age 
  • Gender 
  • Location 

Typically, factors like this have a large impact on the day-to-day of consumers, so when you advertise towards these niches, it speaks well to potential customers.

Examples of targeted brand messenging

The Home Depot

This ad from the Home Depot targets their customers who work early hours. The customers in the ad have different jobs and reasons for being at the store early, but they are all early risers with projects to finish. It’s a great example of connecting a target audience based on a niche shared experience.


This ad from Bounty is another example of using a target audience to expand who you advertise to. If you’ve ever seen a Bounty ad, you know that they typically center around younger families, but this ad campaign had an older target audience. It targets an audience that Bounty often doesn’t include in their regular advertising.


This Pepsi ad targeted consumers living in Atlanta for the Super Bowl. This was heavily targeted towards the city of Atlanta, not only because the Super Bowl was taking place in Atlanta, but also because Atlanta is notoriously the home of their biggest competitor, Coca-Cola.

pepsi billboard set in atlanta reading "look who's in town for super bowl LIII?"
Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Reach your target audience with EarthLink Digital Marketing!

Creating a target audience is an important part of small business marketing. It allows you to spend your marketing budget wisely and create a greater connection with niche groups within your audience.

Looking to get real results with small business marketing? EarthLink Business can help! We’ve helped hundreds of small businesses grow with our variety of digital marketing tools and small business internet. From website building to custom branding, we’ve got you covered. Give us a call to find out how we can help your small business grow.


Creating a target audience is an extremely worthwhile investment when it comes to small business marketing. It allows you to handpick which audiences you want to grow and connect with on a deeper level.

Want to make the most of your small business marketing? Let us help. EarthLink Business offers everything your business needs to make the right connection with your target audience. 

Table of Contents