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7 steps to identify your target audience for your program business plan

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Effective branding, marketing, and communications require a rich understanding of audiences backed up with data whenever possible. The following steps will get you on your way to developing your target audience profiles for your program business plan.

  1. Assemble historical demographic data you have on file from evaluations.
  2. Supplement with new data, which you can gather yourself or look to secondary resources. Pay particular attention to gathering demographics and psychographics. Here are a few places we recommend:
  • City Data (you can search by county)
  • Mapping America, New York Times
  • American fact finder
  • Also, think of people you've known and met in your target audience. Anecdotal references help us understand our audiences, which is particularly useful for gathering psychographics
  1. Consider trends. Demographics are changing all over the US. For an overview of projections, see "Demographic changes in Minnesota" by Susan Brower, State Demographer.
  2. Imagine ideal audiences. Your current audience is not necessarily your target audience. Consider the characteristics of who, within reason, your perfect audience would be.
  3. Pull it all together. Compare and contrast. Challenge your assumptions. Based on commonalities and groupings, establish audience groupings (two to four). Give each audience grouping a name so your program team can refer to them internally. For example: Beginner Livestock Producer, Turf Care Crew, Curious Home Gardener, Farmland Owner, Woodland Steward, etc.
  4. Divide these groupings into percentages that are relevant to you (percentage of revenue, attendance quantity, etc.). For example: Audience Name 1 (primary audience): 75%, Audience Name 2 (secondary audience): 15%, Audience Name 3 (secondary audience): 10%. For each audience name, list relevant demographics and psychographics found in research.
  5. Get feedback from your whole team. Compare notes with other, similar program teams. Gathering different perspectives will help solidify your grasp of target audiences.
-Maggie Frazier, editor

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