Your Target Audience

DISCLAIMER: Ryan Toth is no longer a StoryBrand Certified Guide. After over 6 years, he decided it was time to part ways. We’re still big fans, though!


You have a product, but do you know who you are selling to? If your target audience is not defined you can end up with product that you think no-one wants.

In reality, you just aren’t selling to the right people.

Understanding the Real Target Audience

Finding out who your target audience is means more than knowing who you are selling to. Your target audience is what motivates the why and how behind what you sell.

When you sell your products in an informed way, it lets you sell more intentionally. This means you can target the right people and get more customers.

Today we share some interesting facts and information about how to find your target audience and who your real customers are.

The Myth of Traditional Customer Personas

Everyone is selling to someone. Which means every business owner needs to create a detailed customer persona, right?


In this article, I’m going to walk you through why the customer persona that most marketing companies are telling you to create is wrong, and what you should do instead. 

One of the first things that most companies tell you is that you’ve got to create a persona. That you’ve got to know exactly who you’re selling to. Some might even tell you that you should know how your customers prefer their coffee.

We want to know what magazines they’re reading. We want to know what they’re doing in their free time. Let me tell you what I mean.

Let’s look at Harley Davidson. They have one of the clearest customer personas around. You know the type. Big tattooed guys with long beards and leather biker jackets.

Intuitively, we’d think that these folks make up most of Harley Davidson sales. But it’s not the case.

They only make up 3.5% of Harley Davidson sales.

The other 96.5% of Harley Davidson buyers don’t care which motorcycle they drive. They don’t have the tattoos, the leather jackets, and beards. 

Harley Davidson has one of the most clearly recognizable customer personas of any business, but the people who match the persona aren’t the people who buys their products. And if that’s true for a brand as recognizable as Harley Davidson, chances are it’s true for yours too.

The Problem With Detail-Oriented Customer Profiles

Typically, creating a customer persona involves looking at your product, its benefits, and how it helps your customer solve their problems.

When we start to look beyond that, we start looking at things like personal values. Are they liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat? Do they customer read the New York times or watch Fox News? Does my customer drink black coffee? 

The problem with all of these questions is that they don’t actually help you sell your product. In fact, they confuse your message.

If you’ve got this extensive customer persona, how are you going to write an ad that appeals to them?

Imagine trying to write an ad for running shoes, but trying to structure it around the fact that your customer drinks their coffee black. It can’t be done well. Because the fact that they drink black coffee doesn’t matter to your story or products at all.  An ad like this would only dilute your message, making it more confusing for you to write, and harder for your customers to connect with.

Here’s an easy, effective way to go about creating your customer persona or your target audience that actually works.

A Simple, Effective Approach: Focus on Customer Motivation and Problems

First, consider the character in your story (the customer) and what they want. More specifically, try and hone in on their motivation.

What is motivating them on their journey toward purchasing your product? Most people make the mistake of thinking they’re motivated by the product you offer. But that’s not the case. What’s actually motivating them to buy your products is a problem they’re experiencing now.

So if you sell running shoes, the customer’s motivation isn’t going to be the shoes. It may be they want to run faster, or they want shoes that last longer, or they want shoes that are lighter so that they don’t feel like they’re dragging so much weight. Those are clear motivations that lead your customer to your product.

Once you’ve identified your customer’s motivations, the second step is to look at the problem your product solves. Do this in relation to your customer’s motivations.

Using Your Simplified Customer Persona

Remember you are inviting your customers to take part in a story. To do that, you have to identify the story that your customer is living today. 

They must have a motivation that will lead them to your product. And that’s generally a problem you solve for them with your product. 

When you focus on your target audience more specifically by looking at the problem and the character who’s experiencing it, suddenly everything you’re saying applies to the content that you’re creating like ads and social media posts.

Next time you’re writing an ad, take a piece of paper that lists out aspects of your customer persona. It should detail what problem your customer faces, and what’s motivating them to find a solution.

Set it in front of you when you’re writing and use it as a copy compass. Check every single thing that you write in your ad or social post, and make sure it relates directly to what you’ve got written down on that paper.

Reverse Engineering The Customer Journey

A lot of times when I’m working with a client, they’re focused on the front of the story. They’re trying to figure out how to attract all of these people who have not yet bought their product yet.

The question they get stuck on is, “how do we get them to buy?”

Go to the end of the story and reverse engineer it to avoid falling into this trap. Think in terms of your customers and the people who buy your product. Then look at their outcomes, and use them to determine their motivations and problems.

At the end of the story, every single person who calls himself a customer has purchased your product. That’s why you shouldn’t be trying to identify how to sell to  people out there who might buy from you. Instead, focus on the people who wanted something that you sold. They’re the ones who had a motivation that brought them towards your product, or they had a problem that you helped them solve. 

Hone Your Ideal Customer Profile And Close More Deals

When identifying your target audience, the two questions that matter most are what motivates your customers to buy your product and what problem they solve by doing so.

When you know these things, targeting your customers through ads or social posts becomes easy.

Customers are going to come from a number of different demographics. They’re going to have different values. The may be affiliated with different political parties. Or from vastly different age groups. And that’s fine. If they’re looking for your product, there are two things they certainly have in common: their problems, and their motivations to solve them.

When you focus on people who want what you sell and people who have a problem that you solve, suddenly you’ve expanded your target audience. You’ve made it easier for them to engage with you because they see that you understand what they’re going through. Which makes them want to buy more.

If you’re still having trouble identifying your target audience, ClearBrand can help. Schedule a call to learn more about how you can get a custom website geared towards your ideal customer that gets you more leads and sales.


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