How to Select the Right Target Audience

I was delivering a training session the other day for JLL’s retail advisory group in Chicago. The central theme of the presentation was the importance of creating a personal brand in the service sector. On a break, the president of the group, Naveen Jaggi approached me and shared what I thought was brilliant insight. He said, “You don’t own your reputation. Your community does.”

Those eight simple words pretty much sum up the essence of personal branding.

Personal branding has nothing to do with what we think of ourselves and everything to do with what others feel about us. This is why I call personal branding the great equalizer. Having power, fame, money or prestige does not automatically translate into a great personal brand. The depth and sincerity of our connection with our target audience is what matters most.


Go Narrow and Deep

When choosing our audience, it is best to go narrow and deep. The broader your audience the harder it is to meaningfully touch everyone. If your audience is too broad your message is likely to spread like a light mist as opposed to a laser beam. With all the noise out there, we cannot afford to be casual in who we are targeting.

Not too long ago I was visiting my printer, Michael Zokai, the owner of Printing Depot in Westwood when I observed a flyer that was literally a masterpiece of focus. His message was so simple. It included a photo of a man (presumably the business owner) and underneath it simply said his name and the tagline, “The Gay Man’s Therapist.”

Talk about focus. All this guy had to do was drive home one singular message, “I am THE therapist for the gay community.”

Unfortunately, my praise was short lived. I looked over and saw another box of flyers that said, “The Valley Therapist.” Another, “The South Bay Therapist.” And yet another, “The Westside Therapist.” And on it went. This genius marketing strategy went from being laser focused to a mish-mash of competing slogans, all of which, I am sure, turned into white noise.


Segment your audience

Picking your audience can be broken down by so many categories; revenue, number of employees, geography, industry sector, male or female, age and on and on. The key is to define it as specifically as possible.

I also counsel my clients to make sure the audience they define is large enough that if they captured just 10% of the total market share they would have a tough time keeping up with servicing those clients. We want to make sure that the market is big enough so there is plenty to go around. Lastly, I caution my clients to not move on to another market (i.e. Define a new audience) until they have captured 50% of the market they are currently focused on. The ensures they are not just going after the low hanging fruit.


Define your ideal market

Take a moment and define your ideal market. Not the one you are currently focused on. But the one you dream of, if you had no restrictions.

It all starts with self-belief. If you think you are worthy of the audience or you think you are not, you are right.


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Timothy OBrien