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Nearly half of business professionals consider target audience key when developing marketing plan

It's no secret that effective marketing is a crucial element of a successful business. Advertising to receptive consumers involves a lot of strategy, skill and focus, and there are many  things marketing professionals must take into account when crafting a robust outreach plan.

Despite business trends evolving on a seemingly immeasurable scale, there are a few steadfast pillars that remain the most important building blocks of any given company's marketing approach. According to a ProOpinion Poll, 6 percent of business professionals believe data is the most important thing to consider when developing a marketing plan, while 14 percent of respondents cited budget as the most significant piece of the puzzle. The undisputed leader, however, was target audience. Nearly 40 percent of surveyed professionals identified this as being the most vital cog in the marketing wheel.

What is a target audience? 
Like many business terms, the phrase "target audience" is fairly vague, conjuring up images of focus groups and search engine optimization statistics. The Houston Business Chronicle explained that target audience is often confused with target market, but these two concepts are slightly different from an in-depth marketing perspective. A target market is a precise demographic of consumers that a business chooses to target via all aspects of its marketing plan, including services and products. For example, a fishing company could set its target market at men between the ages of 25 and 75, because these are the people who will be most receptive to the items it's offering.

A target audience, however, is an even more specific group of potential customers that a company is trying to appeal to through particular advertisements. Obviously, target audience is gleaned from target market. For example, while the fishing company wants to appeal to a target market of men between 25 and 75, it implements a slew of advertisements geared toward men aged 30 to 50 living in the New England area. This increased specificity is what defines a target audience. 

Most marketing professionals believe identifying and appealing to a target audience is the most vital component of a successful advertising strategy.Most marketing professionals believe identifying and appealing to a target audience is the most vital component of a successful advertising strategy.

How can you define and reach your target audience? 
It might seem intimidating to narrow down all potential consumers into a target audience, but it's a necessary step toward achieving professional success. Issuing campaigns that are too widespread with the intent of appealing to multiple demographics will only leave people with an unclear idea of what your company's visions, goals and products are. To shape a concise image of who your target audience is, begin by gaining an understanding of your target market, suggested Forbes magazine. Try to gauge basic facts about your potential buyers, like where they live, how much money they make and how old they are. 

Because simple demographic profiles like these offer no background, people with similar statistics on paper could end up being completely different, despite appearing identical from an economic and geographical standpoint. In order to get closer to who your target audience is, it's important to perform research on these potential consumers that will give you context about their issues, desires and motivations.

Once you have a better understanding of what the largest conflicts are for your consumer base, you can attempt to appeal to them through apparent solutions or solidarity. Forbes explained that the primary idea of advertising to target audiences is to show not just what your products can do, but what they can do for customers, which is why research into your ideal demographic's most relevant issues is absolutely crucial. 

"Focus on reaching your target audience through their preferred mediums."

When you've clearly identified the group you're trying to reach, look at the ways these people obtain information. Today, there are so many accessible channels, from blog posts to email lists, that marketers can use to reach their target audiences, noted Quick Sprout. Avoid the urge to distribute your message among all these pipelines, however, and focus solely on the most popular mediums for your target audience. Perhaps statistics show your desired demographic are active consumers of videos and podcasts. Invest energy and money into these areas to maximize return on investment potential. 

Lastly, Forbes noted that you should respect the intelligence of your target audience. Advertising is ubiquitous in today's world, so most consumers have developed a refined taste for differentiating cheap, gimmicky marketing ploys from real, honest outreach efforts. To create reliable ads, use as much concrete proof as possible, gearing the numbers toward fixing the problems of your target audience. Hard facts, combined with a clear understanding and appreciation of your consumers, will establish you as a reliable resource and a top choice for your desired demographic. 

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