Blog / 24th August 2021

"Fish where the fish are": know your audience

Having a detailed view of who your customers are, their needs and where you can find them will help your investment in marketing work harder for your business. Here's how to do it.

A few months in for GrowthBox and we are starting to see some interesting trends from the early adopters using our free planning offer. One is that many businesses really don’t feel they understand their target audience well enough to help with their marketing. Without a detailed understanding of the audience your business is trying to reach, any marketing investment – spending often hard-earned money on finding and keeping customers – just isn’t likely to be working as hard for you as it could. As our friends at Faith PR say: “targeting everyone is the same as targeting no one”.

Truly understanding your customer is a foundation stone to your marketing and helps you really consider in detail their problems, their needs, how you solve their problems and what makes your business important. And of course it’s also crucial in working out where you can find them. “Fish where the fish are” my old CEO used to say, an adage that stuck with me and has served me well. So how do you build knowledge of your target audience?

Well, lets start with a definition. What do we mean by target audience?

At the simplest level, your target audience are the people who are most likely to be interested in your offer, your product, your service. They can be defined by certain common characteristics – e.g. age, location – where they are, marital status, education level, occupation, employment status, income level, their purchasing behaviour, interests, etc. - all of which can help you find more people like them to target with your marketing. For example, here at GrowthBox we are constantly refining who our target audience is. We are firstly targeting small and medium-sized businesses; secondly, we are seeking those seeking to grow – characteristics being they may have recently secured investment, started up etc. – from a sector perspective, our audiences is very diverse and while this isn’t a dominant characteristic for GrowthBox right now, over time, we will most likely tailor our marketing to the different vertical segments with offers and content specific to them. We are also targeting businesses within a specific range of sales turnover, and in addition, targeting businesses within a range of number of employees. Combined, these characteristics begin to help shape who are audience is…and is not. It doesn’t mean anyone not meeting this criteria won’t make a great customer or that you cannot help them – it just helps tailor your marketing much more effectively.

Why take the time to work out who your target audience is?  

Simple. If you know who you are going to target or at least focus on, understand the problem you solve for them and can show why they should choose you, then making sure all your marketing is aligned with that is going to give you the best chances of success:

  1. Many businesses we have seen are spending money on marketing BEFORE working out who they are marketing to and why – this can mean advertising isn’t reaching the right audience and is being wasted. Focusing on your audience first will help your money work harder for you.
  2. Your marketing will have more impact and be more effective when it is aligned with the needs of a specific audience – you can focus on what your message is and of course where your message lands with that specific audience in mind.

Defining your target audience can be simple. Consider the following questions to help get started:

  1. Who are your customers now - or who will they be?

In our experience so far, business owners typically know their customers better than they think they do. There are lots of different approaches to build on this insight but keep it simple at least for now. What do you already know about who your customers are or will be – how would you describe them? Why do you think they buy your offer – or for a start-up, why will they? If you are already active on social media, who is following you and who is most active? Look at other businesses in your space - who are they targeting? What can you learn about their positioning for their target audience? It is also considering who your audience is NOT - it all heps refine who your ideal customers are. This insight can be used to start forming a picture of your target audience.

  1. What else can you now learn about them?

With the above in mind, you can do a little more detailed research. If you already have customers, you could ask a little more about them or about why they use your product / service etc. (you could even ask them for reviews and testimonials to share with others, if you don’t already).

What can you learn from the comments and likes on your social media or that of your competition? Who is following you on your social channels? Are people talking about the product or service your business provides and what can be learned about them from that? What kind of information are they looking for?

According to the SproutSocial Index (2021), the most common reasons consumers follow businesses on social media are:

Sproutsocial - why consumers follow brands on social media 2021

Another option is to take any customer data you already have, whether people who have already purchased from you or those who have just registered interest and have this ‘profiled’ by an expert (GrowthBox can help with that) – producing a detailed insight into the characteristics of your existing customers which can be used to find more!

  1. “Fish where the fish are” – where are your target customers looking for information and help?

This is crucial. If you know your audience, you can find out or at least consider where they are and how you can reach them. “Fish where the fish are”, my ex-CEO at Royal Mail Group used to say, and this holds true. Think about yourself – if you have a need or a problem, where do you go to find out more? Are there ‘go-to’ places for help and if so, how can you use this insight to target your marketing to reach them?

Where are your audience active on social media? Which channels do they seem to be using and active on – and which are they not? These questions will help refine the channels you should use to reach them again so you are making your investment work hardest for your business.

Now you have a better view of your target audience – who they are, where you can find them, and some early insight into what’s on their minds.

All this will help you better position your marketing to them. Your target audience may evolve over time so keep revisiting this using the above questions and thought.

The next step is deepening this insight to create your value proposition – understanding in detail their problems, how your product or service helps to solve them, and why your target audience should choose you rather than your competition. We have a GrowthBox article to follow on that – and one which will help take your understanding of your target audience and help you really nail down how you should position your marketing with them in mind. For more advice, head to

Here at GrowthBox, we are powered by marketing experts from all across the UK who can help you grow in every area of marketing. If you need expert help in identifying your target audience, in building your future marketing plan or in getting specific marketing tasks done – let us know. We’d love to help.

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