Know your target audience

As a business owner or manager, how well do you know your target audience? Do you know what benefits your business provides that will attract your target customer? Do you know how to engage and connect with them? This article by Marcia Yudkin provides an interesting insight to the world of psychology and how it can be applied to marketing to your target audience.

Understand who you are selling to and directly address their needs, assumptions and expectations. This fundamental principle of marketing psychology sounds simplistic and obvious, but it’s violated tens of thousands of times every day by marketers who should know better, as well as by those who aren’t aware of the concept.

Psychologically it’s quite challenging – though crucial – to set aside your own perspective and put yourself in the place of buyers. Without doing so, you’ll encounter problems getting your target market to feel the appeal of your offerings and having them be satisfied with their purchase when they do buy.

Let’s look at a few of the points that follow from the cardinal principle of marketing psychology.


What tempts one population can be a total turnoff for another population that differs from the first in geography, culture, age, gender or personal interests. For example, a fundraiser who moved from New York City to small-town Massachusetts found that donors in the former setting wanted to just write a check and see their names in lights, while their rural counterparts preferred anonymity and hands-on involvement.


Customers are conditioned not only by what you explicitly say about what you’re selling but by previous experiences that they associate with your business. An adult education center where I taught for many years told its teachers to keep in mind that class participants expect the teacher to talk from the front of the room and for students to take notes. No one told them this; it came from having been in school decades earlier, and you violate such “rules” at your peril.


Using the actual words customers use is far more persuasive than deploying synonyms. For instance, few parents talk about their youngsters’ problems with enuresis. Rather, they search for solutions for bedwetting. Likewise, you create distance from customers if you talk about “mobile devices” when the customers think in terms of “cell phones.”


If you don’t tie your products or services to the factors that motivate people to spend money, your marketing fails. Nothing substitutes for knowledge of audience hot buttons, because what gets one group of people to open up their wallets may have quite the opposite impact on another somewhat similar group of people. For example, entrepreneurial CEOs feel attracted to something presented as revolutionary, while corporate CEOs tend to prefer something standardized, prudent and safe.


Talking non-stop about yourself isn’t the best strategy on a first date, and it doesn’t work very well in marketing, either. Learn to couch facts about your product or service in terms of what they mean for the customer. For instance, you may be excited that your new widget incorporates GoTek 5.0, but the customer cares more that the new widget can go hours longer without a recharge and takes up less space in the car.

Once you master the art of connecting with the mindset and needs of potential buyers, you’ve scaled the highest hurdle in marketing, and the rest becomes relatively easy.

Marcia Yudkin is the author of more than a dozen books, including 6 Steps to Free Publicity, now in its third edition, and Persuading People to Buy, from which this article is adapted. She helps solo professionals and small-to-medium-sized business owners connect with their target market cost-effectively and creatively. Learn more about her Marketing Insight Guides series on the fundamentals of turning strangers into long-time customers at

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