Target your ideal customer - the techniques you need to know

If you want your marketing to be effective, you’ve got to understand who to target and how to reach them. Targeting sounds simple, but where do you start when there are so many different techniques to help you target your ideal customer?

There is a lot of terminology used on targeting, making it overwhelming to target your ideal customer. These are just some of the terms used to describe targeting techniques.

  1. Target market
  2. Customer segments
  3. Ideal customer / customer avatar
  4. Target audience


If you’re a small business owner, do you need to use all of these techniques? Read on and I’ll break down each term so you understand what they are, how they work together and how you can apply them to your business.

Target market

What is it?

Your target market is the group of people who have a want or need for what you offer. This is the total opportunity your business has to convert those people to customers.


When to use it

Use this when you want to size your market and understand your business opportunity. A target market would normally be in your business plan, marketing strategy and/or marketing plan.

Customer segments


What are they?

Not all people in your target market will be the same or have the same value. They might have different uses for your product, or they might be motivated to buy it for different reasons. If this is the case, you would define sub-groups within your target market to capture these “segments”.


When to use it

You might not need to segment your target market. I like to keep thing simple. Create segments if you have groups within your target market that are distinct enough that you would treat them differently in your marketing. This helps you narrow down and target your ideal customer.


For example, if your business is swimming coaching, you would probably want to market differently to adults who are learning to swim for the first time compared to the mothers of toddlers. They have very different motivations and needs from you as a coach. Marketing to them the same way wouldn’t make sense. In this case you would segment your market. Your segments would form part of your target market so you would put them in your business plan, marketing strategy and/or marketing plan.

Ideal customer and customer avatar


What is it?

Your ideal customer is a description of a person who is most likely to purchase from you. You would describe them in detail so you can imagine them as if they were a real person. An avatar is a more recent term. It is simply a visual representation to help you target your ideal customer (you might create a cartoon or use a picture from the internet that most closely represents them).


When to use it

This is a technique to help you narrow down exactly who you want to target. It helps you create effective marketing that speaks to your ideal customers, so they want to purchase from you. This takes your target market and segmentation and makes them tangible and highly focused. If you have created segments, then you are best to create ideal customer profiles (and avatars if using) for each. These are useful for your marketing plan and to share with anyone who will be delivering marketing for your business so they can target your ideal customer properly.

Target Audience

What is it?

Firstly, let’s clear up terminology. Many people use target market and target audience interchangeably, but strictly speaking they are not the same, as you’ll see below.


What is it?

A target audience is a group of people from your target market who you will directly target with marketing activity. For example, if you are running a Facebook advertising campaign, you would want to reach a defined target audience, not your whole target market.


When to use it

A target audience relates directly to marketing activities. You would define this whenever carrying out marketing campaigns or advertising. You need to define a target audience to ensure you are spending your budget on reaching the right people. You are most likely to include a target audience in your marketing plan, social media calendar or a briefing to someone carrying out marketing for you.

Check out this simple diagram showing how each targeting technique works together to help you target your ideal customer.

customer targeting infographic
Targeting Techniques

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