Behavioral segmentation and how to use it to define your target audience

One of the most important parts of marketing Your Thing is having a target audience in mind. This doesn’t have to be as gimmicky or salesy as it sounds. It just means that you’re going to try to get Your Thing in front of people that are going to find it the most interesting, or going to be most delighted to see it.

A large trend in marketing has been to use demographics and personas (including demographic data) to define a target audience. That means you either define your target audience by age, race, location or income bracket, for example, or in the case of personas, create one “character” to define and guide the type of person you’re trying to reach. 

In my opinion, this has a huge shortcoming for creators:  creative endeavors usually transcend demographic data. Instead, the appreciation of Your Thing comes down to whether it lines up with their wants and needs, no matter how old they are or where they live.

Instead, you can ask yourself these questions when defining your target audience:

  • What does your audience worry about? 
  • What makes them happy?
  • What do they need from me?

You can infer these things in two ways, depending on whether you already have an audience or not.

If you already have an audience, you can look through their website, social profile, etc. and see if you see any overlap in things they love. Annabelle Lewis’s fanbase loves anything to do with fantasy, mythology and the occult. Justin Donaldson paints a lot of nature, and his audience loves the escapism and serenity his paintings provide.

If you don’t have an audience to look at yet, you can definitely imagine your target audience’s wants and needs and how to cater to that if you have a specific group in mind.

I find it easiest to answer these questions when I imagine myself being someone else and going through their day. I’ve done this by imagining I was an Art Director at a book publisher:

“I wake up, and my first worry is: has the artist turned in their work yet? I need to present it to my team in a couple days. I go to the office and have a meeting with my team for another product. There was a new artist that I wanted to bring on, but while their portfolio is strong, it isn’t really suited for our brand. We mostly have burly men on our books and they paint slim women – my team will worry that they can’t paint men like we want them to. 

I check my emails, and the art I was waiting for has come in! But, I need to give them some feedback. The focal point in the image isn’t strong enough. It won’t stand out among the other books on the shelf.

Ah, but then another email comes in from an artist I’ve been working with for a while. They’re a few days early with their sketches, and it’s exactly what I need. Great, that will free up my Friday afternoon. Right then, I get called into another meeting.“

By imagining “a day in the life”, it makes it easier to identify wants and needs from a certain target audience. From this bit of text, I can conclude that:

  • Handing in art on time is very important, because the AD needs to show it to others or move on with production. Being early is a plus because it lets them be ahead of schedule
  • They’re busy people, with meetings and different responsibilities.
  • The art needs to match their brand and what their audience expects from the brand
  • Book covers need strong compositions with strong focal points, or else they won’t stand out on the bookshelf.

Knowing this, I can tailor my portfolio and communication to them the way they need. All without knowing their age, gender, or other demographic data.

Have you ever tried defining your target audience?