Target Profile or Target Audience???

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In marketing, you often hear the term ‘demographics’.  Which simply defines a group of people who share certain characteristics in common.

Typically, characteristics such as . . . age / gender / geography / occupation / etc. are used to define a demographic — e.g. “female veterinarians, age 30 or above, in the counties of . . . , who subscribe to Veterinary Economics . . . etc.”.  That . . . is a demographic or ‘target audience’.

The problem is, while a demographic profile or target audience is a ‘good start’, it is NOT enough!

Once you develop your demographic profile, you have defined a target audience.  To be useful in your marketing, you must further refine your ‘audience’ into a ‘profile’.

Target Audience or Target Profile — What’s the Difference?

There’s a BIG difference!

A target audience is a GROUP of people who share characteristics in common — as suggested by your demographic profile.

A target profile is a SPECIFIC individual in that audience you’ve just defined.


So what . . .

is the value in distinguishing a single individual from a group of people who share the same characteristic?  Aren’t they the same thing?

No.  No, they’re not!

Here’s an example: “Women who use cosmetics”.  That’s a very large group (audience) of people, isn’t it?  You could further refine this broadly defined audience by limiting your audience by geography (“In the US” or “In Canada”, etc.) or age (“18 – 25”, etc.) or occupation (“CPA’s”, “Executives” etc.).

But even if you didn’t, there is at least one (and doubtless, more than one!) person who fits the audience definition “Women who use cosmetics” who also prefers to purchase and use cosmetics that have not subjected live animals to harsh chemical testing during the development of the cosmetics she buys.


When crafting a message to attract the attention of women in this target audience, you could extol the benefits of using the cosmetics you offer. But, isn’t that what every other cosmetics maker could say?  So what makes you different and better?

Well,if you wanted to ‘stand out’ from the pack of all the “Me-Too” advertising, you could focus on one ‘issue’ that matters most to a certain sub-segment of this audience — ‘women who prefer to buy cosmetics that have not been tested on live animals’.  (NOTE: there are many ‘issues’ that would help you refine a general audience into a more specific profile . . . but I’m just using this one for this post — any others would be equally valid and effective!)

Suddenly, you’re appealing to a much smaller audience of prospects, aren’t you?

And, because of your unique and beneficial focus — appealing to women who buy cosmetics that do not test cosmetics on live animals — you’re actually more appealing to the specific kind of person you want to attract than the ‘generic’ messaging that other cosmetic companies are likely to produce.

Want proof?  Anita Roddick.  She’s the lady in the UK who founded The Body Shop back in 1976.  She knew there was an audience of ‘women who use cosmetics’.  So did every other cosmetics company!  But Anita also knew there was a profile of ‘women who use cosmetics AND prefer to use cosmetics that have not been developed by testing them on animals’.

Once that profile was understood, Anita’s competitive appeal, relative to her undifferentiated competitors, was significant and undefeatable.

I like to say that you want to, “become a special body to a special group of bodies”. Anita did just that. And, she sold her ‘not-tested-on-live-animals’ cosmetics to enough women — that, in 2006 L’Oreal purchased The Body Shop for over a billion dollars.

The More You Focus, The More You Appeal

There’s a funny thing about ‘focus’ in marketing.  The more specific you are in terms of who you want as a customer or client, the more effective your messaging and marketing is going to be.

Now, as long as the people who fit your target profile are adequate in number to meet your revenue goals, the specificity of your message to them will make you more attractive and your marketing messages more response-able than anything most of your competitors are doing.

Won’t that be nice!


You start with a target audience, you then refine that to a target profile. When you do, your messaging becomes more appealing and your marketing becomes much, much better.

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