Target market. Target audience. Branding. Personal brand. These are just a few of what seems like zillions of marketing "buzz" words business people hear every day. In all this buzz, the utility of these phrases can often get lost, their meanings becoming confusing and unclear, especially when not attached to any concrete understanding.
People instinctively engage in personal branding and target audience research even as children. How? Think of this: who does a child go to for a treat? The person most likely to give it to her. How does the child know who this is? Primitive research techniques (a.k.a. experience) show that Dad will not usually agree to the treat, but Mom will, thus the child goes to Mom for the desired outcome.1
So what is a target audience?
The target audience of your personal brand is a subset of your target market. Think of your target market like a dartboard. It has concentric rings radiating out from a central bulls-eye. The dart is your personal brand.2 The bulls-eye represents your target audience, those people you want most to lead, influence, build relationships with and share your personal brand with. They are the people who want to know why they should spend their money and energy on you.3 A target audience is who you share your unique promise of value4 with and who you are going to spend time and effort emotionally connecting with, establishing trust with, and consistently living your personal brand in front of.5 The target audience is the group of people your personal brand will serve.
Why is a target audience important to your personal brand?
Defining your personal brand and defining your target audience go hand-in-hand, each influencing and helping define the other. Your personal brand delineates what expertise, education, and other tangible qualities you have that your target audience needs, showing you have what it takes to deliver.6 It also exhibits what emotional attributes make you personable (like a sense of humor, empathy, loyalty, and causes that are important to you) and cause the target audience to want to do business with you.7 Your personal brand then designates whose needs you can meet. By communicating the right message to the right people, you build your personal brand and build an emotional connection with that audience.8 In turn, you communicate to the audience that their needs are at the top of your mind. Audience trust, through which you achieve your goals, is gained through the consistent actions taken in line with your brand over time. Because of this mutual development, your target audience is crucial to the success of your personal brand.
The target audience of your personal brand is the defined set of people within your target market you spend the most time emotionally investing in and connecting with in order to utilize your strengths, skills, and experiences on their behalf. The target audience is the "bulls-eye" of a marketing "dartboard." Consistently living out your personal brand shows that you have both the audience's best interests in mind and the commitment to help them achieve their goals while achieving your own.9 We engage in simple target audience research and connection even as children. The emergence of your personal brand and the definition of your target audience usually evolve simultaneously, making each vital to the other. As you find your strengths and seek to match them to the needs of your audience, you will lock on to your target audience, moving both your personal brand and them forward and toward success.