Before you can have any hope of creating a successful marketing strategy, you need a well-rounded understanding of two things:

  1. Your target market. 
  2. Your target audience.

Let’s dive right in …

What is a Target Market?

A target market broadly describes B2C or B2B consumers who care about your product or service and, under the right conditions, are most likely to spend money with your company.

“Broadly” is the operative word here. A target market doesn’t have to be as precise as a target audience or a buyer persona. For instance, the target market for a line of dolls can be children between the ages of 7 and 9. To use a B2B example, a target market for an online bookkeeping tool might include businesses with over $500K in annual revenue.

What is a Target Audience?

A target audience is a group of consumers within a predefined target market that has been identified as the best recipients for a particular marketing message. 

Think of a target audience as a market segment that you target with a particular marketing campaign. Let’s go back to our target market example for a line of dolls. The target market may be children between the ages of 7 and 9, but the target audience for your latest ad campaign might actually be working parents who buy those products for their children. 

To create effective messaging within your marketing campaigns, it’s critical to keep your target market in mind.

Let’s also consider a B2B example. Businesses with over $500K in annual revenue might be a good target market for a bookkeeping tool. A target audience profile, however, would consist of technology stakeholders with influence on decision-makers at companies that haven’t reviewed their accounting software needs in over two years.

Marketers Tend to be More Immediately Concerned With Target Audiences

The target audience is almost always much more specific than the target market, which is important because we can craft content marketing collateral that speaks directly to the challenges and needs of this influential group. In this sense, a target audience has more immediate use to marketers than a target market. Of course, you need to establish a target market before you have a target audience.

A well-defined target market is baked into product development. It’s a business developer’s responsibility to make sure a target market exists for a particular product to justify that product’s very existence. This all happens well before marketers come into the picture with specific campaigns in mind. It’s no easy task, to be sure, and it requires a different set of resources and expertise than most marketers possess (e.g., market analysis and research, target market analysis, etc.).

Here are just a few examples of a target market:

  • Doll manufacturer: Children, mostly girls, between the ages of 7 and 9. 
  • Bookkeeping tool: Companies with greater than $500K in annual revenue.
  • Handcrafted leather wallets: Men aged 16 and older.  
  • Risk management software: Small banks and credit unions. 

To create effective messaging within your marketing campaigns, it’s critical to keep your target market in mind. From there, you need to further refine that group, and define your target audience.

When marketers try to appeal to the broadest possible audience for their products and services, they often end up feeling exhausted without much to show for their efforts. Their messaging seems inauthentic and doesn’t really resonate with anyone in particular.

To deliver messaging that will really resonate with your audience, you need to define that target audience. Doing so will help you engage key decision-makers and eventually convert them into loyal customers.

You may be wondering now: “Isn’t that just a buyer persona?” And while the two concepts are similar, they’re distinct enough to warrant further discussion.

How does a target audience differ from a buyer persona?

A buyer persona (also known as a customer persona) is a fictional character who is representative of your ideal customer. Each buyer persona has a name, an occupation, likes and dislikes, as well as challenges and ambitions.

While target audiences are useful across many different types of content marketing campaigns, buyer personas tend to be more useful in B2B campaigns, as they typically focus on the specific challenges and business information of a particular type of potential customer. For instance, a B2C company that sells cereal bars would not necessarily have to create multiple personas, because people from many backgrounds and with varying job titles might purchase their products.

But targeting personas can be extremely valuable in a B2B context, especially when employing content marketing strategies. For example, a SaaS company might benefit from creating personas for each stakeholder involved in the buying process. An HR persona might be interested in blog content that addresses common onboarding or payroll pain points, while a CFO persona would be more interested in white papers with lots of data.

Personas aren’t entirely valueless to B2C marketers, though. They can help marketers better understand consumer behaviour, and they can serve as useful guides when crafting messages to engage and inform them.

A persona typically includes:

  • Personal information: Name, age and geographic location.
  • Content preferences: Favourite channels, content formats, tone and style.
  • Business background information: Job title, level of influence in decision making processes.
  • Objectives: Measurable goals related to the persona’s job.
  • Challenges: Frustrations and pain points standing in the way of the persona’s goals.

How Psychographic and Demographic Data Informs Marketing Campaigns

Your target audiences should be informed by demographic and psychographic information. Demographics describe your intended audience on a superficial level, while psychographic segmentation can group audience members according to their motivations.

  • Demographics may include basic information such as geography, gender, age, income and marital status.
  • Psychographics include personal interests, attitudes, values, desires and specific behaviours.

When defining and targeting an audience, demographic segmentation can only provide so much detail. For example, if you’re promoting a niche, B2B SaaS solution, your specific audience may be made up of men and women ages 35-49 who earn more than $100,000 annually. That’s good information to have, but it applies to too broad of a cohort to provide anything actionable or specific.

Psychographic data for this specific audience example might include: being concerned about lost or under-utilised resources across a supply chain, wanting to eliminate redundancies, or scepticism about a flashy new, up-and-coming technology.

In unison, demographic and psychographic information can help you fine-tune your audience targeting goals. The challenge is where to find this data. Psychographic research may include interviewing existing clients, conducting polls and analysing your site traffic.

How to Analyse and Define Your Target Audience

Defining the target audience for a particular marketing campaign requires data. Lamentably, there’s no crystal ball that can show you exactly how to massage your messages to bring in the right audience. 

However, you know your business better than anyone. Combine that experience with hard data to create a market segment and target audience that is characteristically human, and also strategically defined by scientifically gathered data.

A Three-Step Approach to Defining a Target Audience

1. Conduct target customer research

Your business plan, marketing plan, content marketing strategy, professional experience and prior knowledge of your target customers will lay the foundation for your research. Compile all of your existing intelligence on your target market, and search for opportunities to learn more about it. For instance, you might know that most of your customers are senior-level business managers, but you might not know if they share the same job title, or if they all prefer content via the same channels.

To access these crucial audience insights, use Google Analytics to drill down into your site traffic and perform a deep audience analysis. Custom audience reports can show you demographic and psychographic data, geographic locations, and even the types of technology your site visitors use (e.g., what device and operating system they use to access your content).

2. Analyse the market

Once you’ve divined more information about your target customers and you have compared that data against your business goals, you will need some additional context. Remember: You’re attempting to place the right messages in front of the right people at the right time, but you’re also competing with potentially thousands of other messages.

Start by reviewing your competitors’ marketing efforts and business plans to better understand what you’re up against. You should also document any other live campaigns your business is running; the last thing you want to do is cannibalise your own share of audience attention.

3. Define the audience

With hard data in hand and a thorough understanding of your audience’s interests, challenges, motivations and needs, it’s time to create a concise target audience profile. This is the persona at whom you can direct your content marketing efforts.

As you define your target audience, ask these questions:

  • What problems does your product or service solve?
  • Which demographic characteristics influence the decision-making process?
  • Which psychographic traits impact content consumption?
  • How does your audience prefer to engage with brands similar to yours?
  • Is your audience segment large enough?

That last question is particularly important, because it will prevent you from sinking resources into ultra-niche campaigns with low returns. Niche marketing can be a useful tactic, but your target audiences must represent a group large enough to reach through organic marketing channels.

3-step approach to defining target audience

Do Target Audiences Vary by Channel?

Knowing your intended audience is only one-half of the equation. The other half of the target audience analysis formula is about determining where this group consumes content so you can develop an actionable marketing strategy.

Depending on the demographic and psychographic data you’ve collected, some channels will be better suited for engaging your intended audience than others. For example, some decision-makers in a market segment might be more likely to open an email than to click on a social media ad.

Within channels, a specific audience may prefer unique platforms. B2B buyers are more inclined to seek out information on LinkedIn than Pinterest, for example.

6 B2B Target Audience Examples

(Bear in mind that the following custom audiences are intended to inform specific campaign messages! These businesses may have different audience segments for other targeting efforts. Each example is based on a real client we’ve worked with.)

1. Bookkeeping SaaS Solution

Key demographics

  • Age range: 35-49.
  • Gender: 65% male, 35% female.
  • Common job titles: Head of Digital, Senior Accountant, Chief Financial Officer.

Key psychographics

  • Values job security.
  • Likes to review all the data before making a decision.
  • Striving for a better work-life balance.
  • Skeptical of solutions that promise to solve all their problems.


  • Their current digital solution is showing its age.
  • Current lack of third-party integration is slowing down internal processes.
  • Boss/shareholder demands are making work stressful.

Preferred channels

  • Email for first contact, then phone conversations.
  • Browses social media platforms like LinkedIn, mostly looking for news.

Preferred content types

  • Data-rich white papers.
  • Case studies.
target audience examples - example 1

2. Business Travel Company

Key demographics

  • Age range: 30-55.
  • Gender: 70% female, 30% male.
  • Common job titles: Procurement Officer, Travel Buyer, Supplier Relations Expert.

Key psychographics

  • Values relationships when working with suppliers.
  • Dislikes working on repetitive, mundane tasks.
  • Is wary of handing off responsibilities to a third party.


  • Suppliers fail to deliver on promised rates.
  • Doesn’t have enough data to make informed decisions.
  • Not familiar with ground-level travel concerns.

Preferred channels

  • Looks for answers via organic search.
  • Communicates with other procurement professionals on social media platforms.

Preferred content types

  • Easily digestible blog posts.
  • Case studies.
target audience examples - example 2

3. Facility Security Services

Key demographics

  • Age range: 45-60.
  • Gender: 80% male, 20% female.
  • Common job titles: Facility Manager, Head of Security.

Key psychographics

  • Doesn’t like drawn-out negotiations.
  • Likes to be prepared for everything; gets nervous when things are uncertain.
  • Prefers to get pitches from two or three companies before making a decision.


  • Needs to save costs, but isn’t willing to sacrifice quality of service.
  • Needs a third-party supplier with technology integrations.

Preferred channels

  • Email for marketing materials.
  • Blogs and news sites for industry trends.

Preferred content types

  • Articles.
  • Data-rich infographics.
  • Email newsletters.
target audience examples - example 3

B2C target audience examples

4. Athletic Shoes

Key demographics

  • Age range: 18-29
  • Gender: 60% male, 40% female

Key psychographics

  • Wants to look stylish, but doesn’t like to follow trends.
  • Looks up to sports figures.
  • Strongly values friendships and community.
  • Loyal to one or two athletic brands.


  • Finding athletic footwear that is both stylish and comfortable.
  • Loves the look of designer sneakers, but can’t afford them.

Preferred channels

  • Follows athletes and influencers on social media.
  • Watches sponsored events on YouTube.
  • Looks for exercise tips on Google.

Preferred content types

  • Social media posts.
  • Videos.
  • Image-rich articles.
target audience examples -example 4

5. Organic Protein Bars

Key demographics

  • Age range: 18-35.
  • Gender: 50% female, 50% male.

Key psychographics

  • Strives to eat food that is nutritious and sustainable, but isn’t always successful.
  • Loves to hang out with friends in nature.
  • Feels loyalty toward brands with values similar to their own.


  • Finds it difficult to eat healthy food when they’re busy.
  • Has a limited food budget.
  • Needs a protein source that is compact and easy to transport.

Preferred channels

  • Follows nature photography accounts on Instagram.
  • Watches supplement reviews on YouTube.
  • Follows health gurus on Twitter.

Preferred content types

  • Social media posts.
  • Videos.
  • Event marketing.
target audience examples - example 5

6. Credit Union Mortgage Products

Key demographics

  • Age range: 25-39.
  • Gender: 50% male, 50% female.

Key psychographics

  • Enjoys spending time with friends and family at home.
  • Tries to spend their money wisely, but isn’t always sure how to do that.
  • Craves stability, but fears another economic recession.


  • Feels anxious every time they think about having a mortgage.
  • Is thinking about mortgages for the first time ever.
  • Unclear on the difference between a bank and a credit union.

Preferred channels

  • Reads online news sites.
  • Downloads how-to guides online.
  • Watches home-hunting videos on YouTube.

Preferred content types

  • Articles.
  • eBooks.
  • Videos.
target audience examples - example 6

When you have well-defined, custom audiences informed by strong research, you can stop waiting for buyers to stumble upon your brand and start actively pursuing them with precise messaging.

Editor’s note: Updated November 2021.

Alexander Santo is a Brafton writer living in Washington. ​He enjoys searching for the perfect cup of coffee, browsing used book shops and attending punk rock concerts.