Defining your target audience is the most important step after developing your business idea. What product or service do you want to offer, and who would be interested in it?

First, you’ll need to know if you’re going to sell from business to consumer or business to business (B2B). If you’re selling promotional gear to help businesses boost their own brands, then it’s obvious you’ll be part of the B2B market. If you’re selling clothing through your boutique, you’re aiming for consumers. Sure, that was obvious, but you’ve got to start somewhere! You’ll want to continue from there to narrow down your specific target market as much as possible. The biggest mistake many businesses make is trying to appeal to all audiences. The more you try to appeal to everyone, the more vague your message will be, and instead of reaching everyone, you’ll reach no one. The best practice is to understand your specific market and then talk directly to them. Here are some ways to figure out who they are:

  1. Study Your Competition

    Let’s say your business is that boutique we mentioned. You’re selling summer clothes and sandals for the beach season. Well, your competition is likely the other boutiques in the area selling the same types of clothing. Tourist shops could potentially be considered competition as well. Who do they appeal to? Who do you see going into these shops? Don’t base your whole market on theirs, because what you’re offering isn’t exactly the same, and you might be able to reach a niche that they overlooked. This is simply a starting point.

  2. Analyze your Product or Service

    Jot down a list of what your business is offering. Consider the problem you are solving, and the benefit to the user. For example, your boutique sells hand made clothing, light and breathable for the hot weather. The problem? Consumers are burning up in the summer heat. The solution? Your clothing boutique. The benefit? Well, now they can enjoy the weather without feeling too over-encumbered. What makes your light summer clothes different from those at other boutiques? Maybe it’s your quirky style that can’t be found anywhere else. Consider all that your product or service has to offer and what kind of problem it’s solving. Then decide who usually has that need.

  3. Find Your Targeted Demographic

    Now that you know the answers to 1 and 2, you should be able to hone in on your target market’s demographic. Let’s say the bulk of your merchandise consists of sundresses. That would make your target audience mostly women. Are the sundresses of a style seen more on adults, college-age women, or teenagers? Age is a big determining factor of your target market. If you want to get really specific with it (and you do), refer to the bulleted list below for a comprehensive list of criteria:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income Level
  • Buying Habits
  • Occupation or Industry
  • Marital Status
  • Family Status (children or no?)
  • Geographic Location
  • Hobbies and Interests


Narrowing down your market does not limit your business at all, it actually helps it. Don’t worry that you are narrowing the demographic too much. The more specific you are, the more likely you are to reach your buyers. Aim to know and understand them and you’ll have a much easier time reaching them.