Identifying Your Target Audience

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					!                                                                                                           TARGET AUDIENCE

                                                                                                   Independent Media Institute
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1                                            It’s easier to hit your target when you know where it is.
It’s not “the general public.”               Identifying Your Target Audience
GETTING TO KNOW                               There is an adage in communi-                 many countries do not attempt
YOUR AUDIENCE                                 cations: start where your audi-               to target “the public.” You
Resources for research.                       ence is. The advice is simple                 need to think about the “pub-
                                              to follow, but only if you know               lic” in segments, e.g., voters,
                                              who your audience is.                         youth of voting age, urban
                                                                                            youth of voting age, urban
                                              Most organizations, when                      young women of voting age,
                                              asked, “who is your audi-                     etc. You see how you can con-
                                              ence?” will reply, “the general               tinue to refine each segment to
                                              public.” Indeed, when you                     a more specific or finer slice of
                                              watch a group’s media cover-                  the public? The process of re-
                                              age on the 11 o’clock news, it                finement is known as finding
                                              appears that the group is talk-               your target audience.
                                              ing to the whole world, the
                                              public. But the whole world                   Who is your target audience?
                                              isn’t watching the 11 o’clock                 Your target audience are the
                                              news. Studies show those with                 individuals, groups, communi-
                                              college degrees and adults over               ties and bodies of decision-
                                              the age of 55 watch the news                  makers who can influence your
                                              more than anyone else. So,                    target. Your target is the indi-
                                              any organization that aims to                 vidual or individuals who have
                                              get their event covered on the                direct decision-making power
                                              11 o’clock news is most likely                over the issue your organiza-
                                              to reach college educated and                 tion is working to address.
                                              senior adults as their demo-
                                              graphic.                                      Sometimes your target audi-
         Some rights reserved. This                                                         ence is the target and some-
    tutorial is licensed under a Crea-        The general public is too vast.               times it is not. For instance, a
    tive Commons license. You are             We will have to spend way be-                 health clinic that is working to
    free to use its contents for any          yond the limits of our budgets                increase awareness about the
    non-commercial purpose, pro-              to target “the public.” Note                  growing rate of diabetes
    vided that you credit the SPIN
                                              that even corporations with                   among the elderly by encour-
                                              advertising budgets larger than               aging them to attend seminars

    2006 The SPIN Project. Some rights reserved.!                                                                                1!
  !                                                                                            TARGET AUDIENCE

at the clinic will likely have                  second is the organization’s       • Research International
the same target and audience.                   donors, funders and supporters.
Target: the elderly because                     A third target audience might      • The Roper Center for Public
they have direct decision-                      be a variety of individuals          Opinion Research
making power over their atten-                  based on the specifics of the
dance at the seminars. Target                   campaign and issue.                • TNS Intersearch
Audience: the elderly, because                                             
they can influence the decision                  Next Steps – Getting to
of the target, themselves. If                   Know Your Target Audiences         Once you’ve identified and
the same clinic decides to in-                  The point of refining your          come to understand your target
crease awareness about the                      audience is to zone in on the      audience, you’re ready to de-
growing rate of diabetes                        exact individuals and commu-       velop the strategies and mes-
among children, it is likely that               nities who can assist in making    sages to reach them. Rest as-
the target and target audience                  changes that your organization     sure that your communications
are different. Target: children                 and your community desire.         efforts from here on will be
with diets that increases risk of               Refining your target audience       more focused and effective be-
diabetes. Target Audience:                      ultimately saves time and re-      cause you are getting your
parents because they have a                     sources because you can focus      message to the right people!
great influence over children’s                  your campaign and efforts
diets.                                          from the start.

From the examples above, it’s                   To better understand your tar-
clear that defining your target                  get audience – where they
audience requires you to have                   stand on an issue, what moti-
clear goals. Once you’ve                        vates and drives them – con-
clarified your goal, ask the fol-                sider doing the following: re-
lowing questions to help you                    search any data from ally or-
identify your target audience:                  ganizations on the same target
                                                audiences; conduct your own
                                                focus group of a sample target
      •! Who needs to hear your                 audience; consult with surveys
         message?                               and polling results compiled
      •! Who has influence over                  by large polling and research
         your target?                           firms, such as the Gallup poll,
      •! Who must be moved to                   who polls on current events, as
         action so your goals                   well as smaller polls conducted
         will be met?                           by local newspapers and local
      •! Who has the greatest                   groups. Below is a list of sites
         impact on the outcome                  where you might find valuable
         of your campaign ef-                   information about your target
         forts?                                 audience:

It’s okay to have more than                     • The Gallup Polling Company
one target audience.                    
Most nonprofit groups have at                    • The Pew Research Center
least two target audiences. The         
first is the organization’s base,                • Public Agenda
clients, or constituents. The           

      2006 The SPIN Project. Some rights reserved.!                                                                2!