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What to Do When You’ve Been Targeting the Wrong Audience

What to Do When You've Been Targeting the Wrong Market

No matter how brilliant your business idea may seem, it’s nothing in the hands of the wrong audience. There are many reasons why it is important to understand your target market. For example, misjudging your company’s target market can cost your company profits, time, and even potential success. 

With so many types of target markets out there to pursue, going after the wrong one is more common than you may think. Fortunately, there’s a way to identify and reevaluate your strategy.

Market Research Failure

Sometimes an entrepreneur has a revolutionary idea, but during the testing phase of product development, it fails to interest the original target audience. In some cases, that very same prototype is extraordinarily well received by an entirely different group of people. If the entrepreneur neglects to listen to the enthused audience, they can risk the success of their whole endeavor.

This situation is sometimes referred to as a “market research failure” because the problem stems from misjudging your target audience. It’s also a surprisingly common dilemma, affecting 80% of content marketing.

Market research failure often leads to ineffective marketing campaigns because when you don’t recognize your audience, you’re not going to use marketing tactics that appeal directly to them specifically.

Signs You’re Targeting the Wrong Audience

There are several signs that your company is marketing toward an unresponsive or mismatched audience.

Your Company Tries to Please Everyone

Many starting entrepreneurs begin their business journey with overwhelming confidence in their products. They preach to everyone who will listen because they truly believe their product is the best, and that anyone with sense will want one.

Unfortunately, this is just not true.

As a business owner, you have to be as practical as you are ambitious, and common sense dictates that not everyone in the world wants your product. That should actually be a relief. You’re not expected to appeal to everyone’s taste and budget universally – that’s downright impossible. What you want to do instead is identify the people who do want your product, appeal to them directly, and work towards establishing loyalty and reputation within that niche.

By focusing exclusively on your target audience, you’re cultivating a positive reputation, centering yourself in a community, and you’re further defining the characteristics and values of your brand. 

There’s nothing wrong with having faith in your product and wanting to share it with the world. However, if you find yourself trying to entice anyone and everyone indiscriminately, you might want to rethink that strategy.

Marketing Tactics See Little or No Response

If your marketing tactics frequently miss the mark with little explanation, it’s probably because the wrong audience received it. Think of the ads you usually see online or on social media. Most of the time, those ads are specifically tailored to you and your internet history. The advertisers know what you tend to shop for and market accordingly, albeit using an algorithm.

Marketing relies on patterns to make predictions about consumer behavior. For example, if a customer regularly buys protein bars, you can use that data to infer they might be interested in a new brand of healthy snack mix. Likewise, they probably wouldn’t respond to ads about a new candy bar. 

The company selling candy bars in this situation isn’t necessarily offering a bad product, but they’re unlikely to succeed because they’re pitching to the wrong audience.

Negative Feedback

If your company makes high-quality products but consistently sees negative feedback, it could be a sign of a mismatched audience. For example, if your company sells children’s toys that are very elaborate, handmade, and expensive, you won’t have as much luck pitching to middle-class American families as you might if you marketed toward upper-class individuals or grandparents.

In this situation, it’s important to try out multiple styles of marketing, and even make adjustments to your product if necessary. One common mistake small businesses make is worrying more about the function of the business itself than the experience of the consumer. Remember that your priority should always be to solve the problem or fill the needs of your customer.


What to Do When You’ve Been Targeting the Wrong Market

1. Acknowledge the Misalignment

To start with, it’s important to be transparent. You have to acknowledge that you’ve made an error in your targeting. Internal acknowledgment is vital However, it’s equally crucial to communicate this to your employees, partners, and possibly, your customers. Convey the problem openly. Ensure that everyone understands the gravity of the situation and is on board for making the necessary changes.

Next, engage in a thorough review to identify how and why the misalignment occurred. Were you distracted by shiny object syndrome? Were you unclear about what the best parts of your product are? Did you take the wrong advice from marketers or consultants? Whatever the reason, it is important that you get to the root of the issue. Take a data-driven approach that will allow you to gather relevant insights and pinpoint the exact elements that led to the misalignment.

Learning from the mistake is key. Identify what went wrong in your original strategy, be it a misread of market signals, reliance on outdated data, or misunderstanding of customer demographics and preferences. Such a process, although uncomfortable, is essential in evolving and strengthening your business.

2. Conduct Market Research

Conducting market research is critical to your company’s success. Track your company’s sales, website visits, clicks, likes, and followers. Information is power, and knowing which audience responds to which campaigns can help provide insight into what your targeted ads are missing.

Here are some ways to conduct market research:

  • Create visual charts representing the demographics your company serves
  • Study your potential rival companies and their audiences
  • Explore the community you’re trying to reach
  • Engage with followers on social media directly
  • Ask customers for feedback
  • Request personal information from customers
  • Use Google Analytics for your company’s website

Although it’s not as exciting as product development and brainstorming sessions, market research is one of the most important steps you can take toward building a successful business. Market research forms the foundation for your company’s products, services, policies, and even branding.


3. Create a New “Buyer Persona”

One great way to take control of your marketing strategy is to create a buyer persona. A buyer persona is an imagined, ideal customer you envision for your company. Creating a buyer persona allows you to tailor content exclusively for one specific type of person.

Ideally, the market research you’ve conducted for your company will factor into this process. Your buyer persona should have roots in the reality of your sales and the most responsive demographics. For example, if your product performs well among sports fans, you should try to lean in that direction.


4. Reevaluate Your Messaging

Once your ideal customer is properly understood, you must then thoroughly grasp your audience’s needs, preferences, and values. Reevaluating your messaging after targeting the wrong audience necessitates a comprehensive approach. Your new messaging should resonate with these aspects and mirror them.

First, conduct a meticulous review of your existing marketing materials and messages. Identify elements that didn’t resonate with your audience. This could be the language used, tone, content type, or choice of platform. Following this, refine your value proposition, ensuring your messaging clearly delineates the unique value your product or service provides. This includes articulating how you solve a customer’s problem. Also, restate what benefits they can expect and why your solution is superior to those offered by competitors.

Now, equipped with these insights, proceed to update your messaging strategy. This could involve fine-tuning your tone of voice or altering your choice of words. Begin transforming your content strategy to better align with your target audience. Experiment with different versions of your messaging to identify the most effective one.


5. Redesign Your Marketing Channels

Once you’ve gotten your new messaging, you’ll need to look at your marketing channels to see if you’re using the right ones. Perhaps you’re using the right channels but just to the wrong audience. That is why this step is crucial so that you are not starting from scratch. Instead, you are reevaluating which marketing channels work for your new audience and which ones don’t.

First, revisit your target audience profile. Understand where they are most active and receptive to marketing messages. This can be achieved by just spending time on those channels as well as analysis of web and social media analytics.

Following this, evaluate your existing marketing channels to understand where the gaps and opportunities lie. Look at metrics such as reach, engagement, conversion rates, and customer feedback. It might be that some channels are not appropriate for your audience. Or, maybe, the manner in which they were used was not effective.

Having gained these insights, redesign your marketing mix. You may need to remove some channels or add new ones. That’s ok. Be willing to let go or start from scratch. Hopefully, you will only need to alter the way you use existing channels. Either way, the focus should always be on where your audience spends their time and how they prefer to engage with brands.

For example, if your audience is younger, they might be more active on social platforms like Instagram or TikTok. This means a stronger focus on social media marketing. Conversely, a professional audience might respond better to LinkedIn or email marketing.


6. Test the New Market

Once the new strategy is formulated, it’s time to pilot and test the new market. To do this, you must first choose a segment of your market for the pilot test. It could be a geographic area or maybe a demographic group. The goal here is to test the effectiveness of your new strategy on a smaller scale before a full-scale implementation.

Next, set clear goals for your pilot. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to improve engagement, increase conversions or enhance brand awareness? Whatever the goal, be clear about it.

From there, implement your pilot marketing campaign. Be sure to track all the relevant metrics. Utilize marketing analytics tools to measure things like engagement rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, or any other metrics relevant to your set goals. However, don’t get discouraged about not reaching your goals. Instead, use the results as a learning tool to help you get closer to resonating with your audience.

Collect and analyze data throughout the test. The beauty of a pilot is that it allows for real-time monitoring and adjustment. If something isn’t working as expected, you can tweak it and observe the results. Once the pilot is complete, review and analyze the results. Did you meet your goals? What worked and what didn’t? These insights are invaluable in making necessary adjustments to your marketing strategy.

Finally, scale up successful strategies gradually. Implement the tested strategies across other segments, continuously monitoring their performance and making necessary tweaks. Remember, marketing strategies require ongoing optimization, so remain flexible and ready to adapt to changing circumstances.

7. How to Know You’ve Found Your Audience

Once you’ve identified your target audience and catered your marketing tactics towards them, you’ll likely notice a windfall in sales and ad responses. It can take some time to make waves among your target market, but the numbers won’t lie. Even if sales take a while to catch back up after a marketing pivot, you’ll notice a spike in engagement, interest, and positive feedback.


Fortunately, targeting an incorrectly identified audience is a mistake that can be remedied through research and dedication. Taking the time to understand your target audience can save your company time and money. All you have to do is test the waters with different crowds and make observations.


Also Read:

How to Find the Target Market for a Clothing Business

How to Find the Target Market for a Coffee Shop

Who Is Your Target Audience and How Do You Find Them?

Ari Bratsis
Team Writer: Ari is a writer, blogger and small business owner based in Washington state.

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Team Writer: Ari is a writer, blogger and small business owner based in Washington state.

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