How to Find Your Target Market So Content Sticks (Guaranteed Success)

by Tommy Walker

Last updated on October 23rd, 2018

You hear it all the time: “learn how to find your target market and create interesting content.”

But there’s a severe lack of useful material on identifying and deconstructing target markets to create sustainable online content campaigns.

This is either because:

A) Everyone already understands how to find their target market or

B) Few people are really identifying their target market, but the buzz phrase is fun to repeat

If you agree that it’s B)  please read on.

I’d be lying if I said this type of research was easy. It’s anything but. A lot of marketers skip it or phone it in because it can be very time consuming.

But in my opinion, it’s this time that separates the pros from amateurs.

The truth is, there is such a wealth of information about your target market analysis that once you understand how to tap it, analyze it and create for it, it’s difficult not to create content that “sticks.”

How to Find Your Target Market – Part 1:  Basic Demographics

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Ethnicity
  • Marital Status
  • # of Children

Look at this list and think about how many of these demographic factors influenced your last major purchase.

Realistically, most businesses should only focus on:

  • 2 core markers—data that defines who your core market is, and
  • 1 – 3 Secondary markers—data that fleshes out the core market

When deconstructing the market, focusing on a small core allows you to see what’s important to them, where they hang out—both online and off—and what they’re exposed to.  With that understanding, you can build a basic picture of their life, and flesh out your content from there.

Try not to think of keeping a targeted profile as excluding anyone, but rather keeping your messaging focused on the people who will make the most impact. Trust that “everyone else” will follow once you made an impression with your core market.

Example – Base Targeting Profile #1

What if I sold a B2B software to computer programmers?

Two core market attributes that instantly come to mind here are:

  • Occupation (Core Marker)
  • Location (Secondary Marker)

Now with software, you might think “Location” wouldn’t make sense as a Secondary Marker, but the reality is, there are certain parts of the country where it rocks being a computer programmer (or any profession for that matter).

To know where these places are, I use a free site called which tells me—among many things—the best and worst places in the country for any given occupation.

city town info

As a marketer, I want to understand where these areas are, because local salary gives me an indication of the local and business culture for that programmer.

If programmers in a particular city are paid more, it’s more likely employers there will respect—and listen to—the programmers’ opinions regarding purchasing decisions. (Programmers in San Jose are probably taken more seriously than programmers in rural Maine)

Knowing which areas have the highest salary, I’ll plug that information into Followerwonk, to learn the “local language” of people within that industry.


From here, I’d create a Twitter List and watch for patterns in websites the local programmers are sharing , local events they attend, popular hot spots and anything else they share that gives me some indication of where I should represent my software both online and off.

Later, I’ll dig into the content of what they’re sharing and use what I learn to guide my own content development.

Takeaway: Understanding basic demographics on your target market can help you to “be everywhere” to your most important market.

Example – Base Targeting Profile #2

Let’s say I was developing a campaign for a college, and my primary goal was to get older Gen Y students to sign up. The base targeting profile might look something like this.

  • 25–34 Years Old (Core Marker)
  • $10,000–30,000/year (Core marker)
  • Women ( Secondary Marker)

While this seems pretty general, this data gives me a pretty good base to work with.

I could find top-selling products for 25–34 year old women, scan the local job market for the places paying $10-30k/year, and ask around (in-person) to discover what they’re watching or reading online.

Understanding… no… being empathetic to the conditions of someone in a $10–30k/year job helps me to develop targeted content later.

For example, top-selling products help me understand what’s important (or what’s missing) from their lives, and knowing what they’re watching and reading lets me know where to place my marketing, as well as the style and tone of the content itself.

Not to mention, I can always target Facebook ads by workplace. Understanding what specific jobs are paying within my target market’s income range helps me to target them later.

Takeaway: Researching deeper into why a demographic is a demographic can reveal specific, actionable parameters that can guide the rest of your marketing campaign.

Part 2: Psychographics – How To Talk To Your Target Market

If demographics are telling you who is buying, psychographics will tell you why they buy.

Interestingly enough, by monitoring your target market’s interests like we were talking about in the previous section, you’ll gain insight into things like their:

  • Personality
  • Attitudes
  • Values
  • Interests/hobbies
  • Lifestyle
  • Behavior

For example, let’s say you notice a high percentage of people in your market share posts from

apple spoof

image source

Knowing 9Gag has a unique sense of humor,  it would be safe to adopt elements of their sense of humor and incorporate it into your messaging.

Imagine a brand sells baby clothes targeting working class bloggers with a sense of humor like 9gag?

content for daddy's blog

image source

Within your demographic, you’ll see trends on the thoughts, personalities and values shared by members of the market.

They might buy things that keep them grounded spiritually or make them laugh, that are “all natural” or shows support for a cause they believe in.

Psychographics are what motivate the buyer to take action and they can often be learned by examining the media they consume. Good psychographic profiling can be difficult to do because it requires you to immerse yourself  in the market’s inner psychology and develop an empathy and familiarity with the target customer.

For me, this is where acting training has come in extremely handy, because psychographic analysis is a lot like script analysis for actors.

Pro tip: Read up on how actors analyze scripts. Actors explain analyzing scripts more clearly than marketers talk about analyzing markets, and they both use very similar techniques.

Sneak Peek: What is Your Brand Personality?

Never forget that people allow brands to co-exist with them online.

The list of target markets research isn’t about finding more places to hawk your wares. It’s about understanding the market’s core attributes and learning to sell in a way that resonates deeply and gets them wanting more.

The best way to resonate with a market is to become a reflection of it’s ideal self.

Chart Brand Personality main 1 image source

Brand personality is a little much to unpack here, so it’s best saved for another article, but this wonderful wheel by Millward Brown gives you a solid base to work with.

For now, let’s leave it at this: Doing the research before you create the content, before you start the blog, before you run the ad makes you stronger, more informed, and better equipped to serve your market the best way possible…

…Which just about guarantees your success.

Thoughts on how to figure out your target market? Ideas? Let me know in the comments below.

Learn here how to find your target audience 



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Tommy Walker

Tommy Walker is an online marketing strategist, show host, and prolific guest blogger specializing in highly effective, counter-intuitive approaches to online marketing. He seeks to expand your thinking on what's possible with online content.

Check out his approach on guest post landing pages, and get a free copy of The Top Ten Content Marketing Strategy Mistakes by clicking here.


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  1. Bernadette says:
    March 11, 2018 at 7:22 am

    Thanks for this. I am having a hard time finding the kind of content to deliver for my target audience. This is so hard. I love your tips.

  2. Karlie says:
    February 20, 2017 at 1:05 am

    Thanks Tommy, this post is excellent. I found it searching for ‘how to define my target customer’. My best takeaway is this line: The best way to resonate with a market is to become a reflection of it’s ideal self.

  3. Douglas Troupe says:
    December 21, 2016 at 5:39 am

    Just wanted to say big thanks for this content! This is the most useful article I have read about the topic. So many great pieces of advice… I hope I am up to the challenge to find my audience now 🙂

  4. Catalina Diaz says:
    September 22, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    Wow. I just been trough tons of pages with “engage, offer value, build connections, networking..” and I was like “but to who?, where? how i know wich group would be the best to find my target market, it will be soo much time invested , i need to know how to find the right place to invest it… posting about what? ” this info is refreshing and it has helped me to look clearer on how to act, as you said BEFORE getting into groups, start the blog, building connections…. thanks! . I wold love to have more info about the “brand personality” , maybe some books recommendations in demographics and psychographics for beginners. I love this, it’s exciting to see how you can learn to read the enormous stream of data that is out there and not being overwhelmed or exhausted by it. thanks.

  5. Katherine says:
    September 13, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    This is a great article. It’s very informative. I’ve always struggled with marketing online. This article definitely helped me see things in a different perspective with targeting. Thank you.

  6. Trevor Parnham says:
    August 18, 2016 at 11:26 am

    I think this article gives a very solid tutorial on how to discover a target market and how to build a marketing campaign.
    However, my problem is that we want to identify actual potential customers overseas who are looking for what we are offering.
    I cannot find any articles which tell me how to find these individuals or companies. So, as useful and informative as this article is, I still haven’t found the answer to my question.
    I see from many of the comments to this post, that readers are all asking the same question that I am

  7. Anonymous says:
    March 20, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Great advice. I am not savvy with digital and am really struggling in this over zealous cyber world to figure out how to get more leads and business. Thanks for the tips.

  8. Bobby says:
    February 17, 2016 at 2:41 am

    Fantastic post! This is one of those posts that I have to revisit a few more times. Its always interesting because some times I will release a product thinking one demographic will respond well to it but somehow another demographic adopts it. That’s life…

  9. Sonya says:
    December 12, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Thanks for the no nonsense approach to “targeting your market.” I can’t tell you how many times I have been given the same advice over and over again. Repeating something doesn’t necessarily mean you are actually providing people with a solution.
    I really appreciate this article and have book marked it!

  10. Delila says:
    December 9, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    You could definitely see your expertise in the article yyou
    write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers
    like you who are not afraid to say how they believe.

    All the time follow your heart.

  11. Denise says:
    October 12, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    I always hear the phrase, pick a target market, but no one ever talks about the next step of getting to know the target audience and marketing specifically to that audience. Thanks for the post. It is very helpful.

  12. Samantha says:
    October 8, 2015 at 12:00 am

    I recently started my own business and like you said, everyone talks about how important finding your target market is but so many people (including myself) overlook it. I’m still in the early stages of building my business so I can now find my target market before going on to build a logo etc. however I have no idea how to find my target market as what I’m ‘selling’ isn’t as cut and dry as programming software… Any extra pointers for a doula trying to find her target market ??

  13. fRank says:
    September 10, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Hi Tommy, Like you said, we’ve all head about finding markets and creating great content. Internet marketing is not easy all,therefore it’s important to be aware of every detail which you have outlined on this post, you really did great to share this post with us. Thanks also for the backlinks t’was most helpful.

  14. Ntombi says:
    June 16, 2015 at 6:40 am

    Thank you so much for this article really is an eye opener, and have answered most question about my target audience.I want to start a socks business line and have identified my target market to be male between the age of 23-49 could be over that gap depending on individual fashion sense, its colorful, bamboo socks aimed for office guys, for guys who are always wearing formal clothes. So now my question is how do I reach them? How do I go about making them aware of my product and to get them to buy

  15. Zu says:
    May 28, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Cheers for the article. Very informative. I’m a coach and was wondering whether it would make more sense and be more effective to start with a small niche. i.e. cricketers, a specific sport. Or to simply choose a bigger audience “professional and semi-professional athletes” as my niche?

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      May 28, 2015 at 9:41 am

      Hi Zu. You can do it either way, but you’ll likely get a higher conversion rate if you choose a smaller niche, where you can be the authority for that specific sport. Good luck!

  16. Hasan Habib says:
    May 5, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks a lot

    Very very wonderful and informative article on targer audience.

    thnaks again

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      May 6, 2015 at 10:25 am

      You’re welcome, Hasan.

  17. Chevelta says:
    April 12, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Tommy!
    I am a board certified OB/Gyn and a pastor. I have just written a book that is about to launch in 4 weeks. It’s a medical spiritual parallel regarding how the process of pregnancy and birth directly parallels to the process we must each go through to deliver/manifest the greatness and purpose that lies within us, to the outside world. Although I feel this book is for everyone, I am trying to ensure that I am directing it towards the correct target audience. I am currently looking at professional christian men and women between the ages of 30-45. Not sure if I should be looking at other characteristics. I would love some feedback to assist me in the “how to steps” of locating and reaching the appropriate target audience effectively. I have 4 weeks before the book launches. Thanks.

  18. Tiffany V says:
    March 16, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    This is a great post. I’m busy doing my research on how to run my blog/vlog/ website. I am so grateful that you took the time to post something so consice that has so much content.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      March 17, 2015 at 9:32 am

      Glad it helped, Tiffany!

  19. kenny says:
    March 14, 2015 at 7:14 am

    am a small business owner that wants to venture into retail sale of baby stuffs. what type of stuffs should i focus on and who would be my target audience. the industry looks pretty tight

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      March 14, 2015 at 9:19 am

      Kenny, it can be challenging if your chosen market is already being served well. I’d start with a thorough study of your market. Look at the big players in the industry, what each of them provides (particularly their value proposition) and any gaps that might exist. Then start talking to new parents and see if there’s anything they want/need that isn’t already being provided. Where do they go for baby stuff? What do they want that isn’t out there? That sort of thing. Hopefully you can find a gap where you can stand out.

  20. Amy says:
    March 12, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Thank you for this post. I would like to target people who enjoy staying at luxury/upscale hotels. I’ve narrowed it to wealthy middle aged women. How can I narrow my target audience even more? Should I choose between business owners vs. tourists? Stay at home wives vs. Business owners?

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      March 13, 2015 at 9:17 am

      To narrow it down further, look at your data from two perspectives. 1. Which type is currently spending more on luxury/upscale hotels? (frequency or spend could be used for this data.) 2. Which one do you consider your *ideal* customer? Then think about what you have to offer each group (benefits/features). Business owners/executives and tourists are looking for different things in a hotel. Consider how well you could serve each group, and which is a better fit for what you offer.

  21. Naomi Dinsmore says:
    March 10, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Great post Tommy!

    It’s my first time here. BTW this post was #1 on Google results.

    Great, informative stuff. I’ve learned alot and I love the use of images too…



    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      March 10, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Welcome to The Daily Egg, Naomi. Glad you found us. 🙂

  22. Lin says:
    September 13, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this article!
    I’ve just started my small business and I find this very useful. This blog has taught me so much more than what we business and marketing students learn in school!
    It makes me rethink all my assumptions and I just decided to make a thorough research on my target market by doing in-depth semi-structured interviews with focus groups to understand my target market better.

  23. Dahlia says:
    August 31, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Hi Tommy,

    Is there any one who you can pay to determine your target market? I’ve tried all these suggestions that you’ve given, I’ve even read books on it but I’m still unable to determine my target market!!

    Can you please help?

    • Tommy Walker says:
      September 1, 2014 at 10:50 am

      Sure! There are a ton of agencies out there that specialize in market research & could help you get things off the ground. The major factor has to do with budget though, and the quality of research you’re trying to get.

      If budget is limited, try getting in touch with marketing students at a local univeristy. There’s a lot that can go into it, so keep that in mind. Do you have a budget in mind?

      • Dahlia says:
        September 1, 2014 at 7:11 pm

        Hi Tommy,

        Thanks for prompt reply :). I’m willing to spend anywhere from $100-400. It’s just my target market that I need help with, not the actual marketing of my book.


  24. Lisa D. Sparks says:
    July 24, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    This is useful info. I’m looking to combine my public speaking biz and content marketing biz into one. The speaking gets my firm business and helps us sell info products. I want it all to be a target for the same audience. How do I get more specific without overkill? When do I know when enough is enough when I’m whittling things down / niche-ing?

    • Tommy Walker says:
      July 25, 2014 at 9:56 am

      It’s a common fear that you might whittle down too much, but most of the time, that’s just one of those things that we tell ourselves to back out of the narrowing down process.

      In fact, what happens more often than not is that the market expands because the people who you’re initially talking to have lives & interests outside of that “niche” they’re in, and recommend to someone else in another field they should work with you too.

      Also, what tends to be surprising to folks is just how many people are actually in that niche in the first place.

      If I got to the point where I defined my target market as “upscale italian resturant owners” for example, I could go an entire lifetime working with even just a tiny percentage of the overall market for “upscale italian resturant owners”.

      The other thing to remember is that with every niche, there are always more people coming into it. It’s never ever a finite thing.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      July 25, 2014 at 9:56 am

      Great questions, Lisa. You’re thinking about it right: you want to narrow your focus enough to be the top choice for your target market without going so narrow that you limit your audience. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. You have to try and test your different options. Consider starting by choosing a target group that is moderately narrow. Then see who rises to the top in that group. Either segment them as your ideal target or start marketing just to them, depending on how large that market is. Other people might continue to follow you, but you would market just to them. Let me know if you need more help.

  25. Mimi says:
    June 25, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Amazing post! Maybe like most artists though, my mind is not as logical as yours and I struggle to identify my target market beyond basic core market attributes and so I have been stuck for a long time 🙁 Any chance you could me pointers on my situation?

    • Neil Patel says:
      June 25, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      Mimi, sure thing. Do you have any specific questions we can help you with :)?

      • Mimi says:
        June 25, 2014 at 5:02 pm

        Thank you Neil!
        I used to sell a lot of my paintings over 10 years ago with less skills in my craft/web design/social media etc and now I have way more, nothing is happening 🙁 I used to sell a lot online worlwide (ebay mostly when it wasn’t so crowded) so it’s hard to tell who my ideal client was and when face to face, there wasn’t a specific type.
        I offer my art online and even though you gave specific steps, I’m unsure who exactly to target for this kind of product (beyond ”people who like bright colours” and ”between age 30-45”, maybe more women than men)… My brain is creative but not logical!

        • COLEEN says:
          January 5, 2016 at 12:31 am

          Start with yourself, you are your ideal audience first and foremost before anyone else, then find more people like you. It will take research and understanding of yourself but it’s worth the time if you get buyers.

  26. March 27, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Tommy! I’m really struggling to get insight into my target audience. Age wise, they seem to be all over the place. Given that my blog/site is all about cryptozoology (Bigfoot, aliens, mysterious beasts, strange Earth phenomenon, mermaids, etc.) – not exactly a mainstream concept like computer programming – I don’t know where to dig for information.

    Are there other resources to dig up information on more esoteric topics? Is there another tactic that you would suggest?

    Thanks! … Susan

  27. Hudson says:
    March 19, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    This is an amazing post, and certainly one of the most under-valued out there, based on social shares alone. I think that if people really had a sense of what makes marekting effective, this post would get a lil bump in the rankings.
    I teach a marketing class and I constantly re-iterate how important it is to first ID your target customer, but SO many pass up that step. It’s like shooting before you aim – good luck, eh?
    Anyhow, a good job, so +1 for that. I wonder if this sort of post doesn’t get more attention because it’s suited to the marketers more than the small business owners, though….

    • Jordan says:
      May 23, 2014 at 11:39 am

      I myself am looking to start a small business, and have opened one in the past. I can say this kind of post was of no interest to me a small business owner back then, but now I really understand the importantce of not making the same mistake twice. I believe that the answer is YES, this blog doesnt have more hits because small business owners, like myself, are mostly dreamers and not true business people. I am fixing to solve this about myself and really hope other small business owners jump on bored.

      • May 23, 2014 at 11:58 am

        A thumbs-up to you too, Jordan! Good luck on your new business. And we hope to see more of your comments on the blog. 🙂

      • neil says:
        May 24, 2014 at 9:09 am

        Jordan, keep up the great work. Please let us know if you need any help along the way 🙂

      • Rodney says:
        February 9, 2016 at 2:07 pm

        Really really good article. Very informative. I started an online business before and went to school for business marketing and still felt no need to focus on my target market. The best advice is failure. I failed with traffic but I was successful in the fact that I tried and learned. Hands on schooling but please focus on your target market. Learning your target market’s lifestyle matters. What if you pay money for a commercial to air on Sunday at noon but your target market is in church on Sunday at noon? Important stuff. This article is the truth.

    • Taz says:
      March 14, 2016 at 4:44 am

      This was so insightful and very helpful. I will take allot from your article to help me setup my clothing line. I made the mistake however I’m doing allot for research, and I overlooked the target market not completely I just did not delve too much into it. Its only when I spoke to a brand and logo designer. She got me thinking, and advised me to do more market research before returning for a branding/logo creation. Is there any more advice for me? To hopefully successfully launch a UK based clothing line? Thanks

  28. January 15, 2014 at 7:38 am

    A great piece Tommy, and one that’s needed. So much talk and “how-to” is aimed at getting traffic, when what really matters is getting smart with what traffic you aim at. Selecting your audience is not a crime. It’s a necessity when it comes to making business work.

    I think you could write a lot more posts on this subject and still not exhaust it.

  29. Tamar says:
    January 14, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    I agree “few people are really identifying their target market, but the buzz phrase is fun to repeat.”
    but that’s a key to successful marketing.

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