Identifying a target audience is crucial for whatever business you are in, not just for the products or services you are offering, but also for your content marketing. Knowing what kind of language to use, where to place your content and what needs to satisfy is essential. If you haven’t defined your target audience yet, take some time and do it, it will shape most of what you are doing in the future.

Here at Simplify & Amplify we’ve got a saying: Segments are facts, targets are decisions. In other words, you need to consciously decide who you’re going to target. “Everyone with a driver’s license” is not a target, it’s a segment. “Affluent drivers over 65 looking for a second run-around vehicle” is a target. Of course, this can be refined further, but the point is that segments are different from targets.

A good approach is to develop your “ideal customer” through answering questions based on their demographic information, attitudes and psychographics, and usage.

Demographics are things that can be measured easily, such as their age, income, educational levels, geographic location, marital status etc. Questions about attitudes and psychographics are focused on the customer’s mindset, attitudes and values. Usage simply addresses how each customer would use your products, services and brands.

Even if you have done this process a while ago, things are constantly changing and going back to basics can be helpful, especially before launching a new campaign or looking at extensive promotion for your businesses products and services. Also keep in mind that the world keeps spinning and what’s relevant one minute is totally out of date the next. Remember when Facebook was something “the kids” got into while the grownups were left scratching their heads? Well, nowadays Facebook is an “oldies” medium. As one young person I was interviewing recently, said, “why would I want to be on Facebook? My parents are there!”

When writing content for marketing purposes, you must stick to the golden rules of starting with your customer and staying focused to prioritize segments and targets in order to gain the most value. Whilst there are differences in channels, remember that there’s also differences in your audience. What works for one audience is quite different for another. This is exemplified when looking at generational differences.

Consider the table below from Peter Sheahan’s book Generation Y: Surviving with Generation Y at Work. Although this book is over 10 years old, it highlights the various ways different generations think and behave.

Do tread cautiously however. Stereotypes can often distort results. For example, Elvis was a musical icon for Baby Boomers. The generation before were horrified that their kids were listening to this guy, and he was banned form radio airplay. Same goes for Madonna. Remember the outcry that erupted at her outfits (or the lack there of?). And Eminem was banned regularly and is still frowned upon, despite being one of the biggest artists of the century. Perhaps the generations have a lot more in common than we think!

So, do your research. Know your target, and try to understand what drives them. Stereotypes can help with initial clustering (in terms of generational differences), but be sure to explore attitudes and usage too. After all, I sure we know some 60-year olds that act like 20-year olds, and some 20-year olds that act like 60-year olds!