9 characteristics to define your target audience and get people to care

Founder of Wild Business Mates


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If you are reading this, you probably found an issue you deeply care about. Whether it is biodiversity monitoring, coral gardening, mangrove plantation, animal GPS tracking, rewilding, etc., you want people to care about this issue as much as you do.

But by now, you realize you don’t get the attention or the financial support you hoped for.

The reason for this is that you often miss clarity on defining your target audience. As long as you are not a massive nature company or NGO, you need to be very strategic about your target audience.

So today, we dive into what a target audience is, why finding it is important, and 9 target market characteristics to focus on.

What is a target audience?

A target audience is a specific group of people you want to reach with your product, service, or message.

They are a segment of the larger population. Businesses and NGOs identify them to focus their marketing, sales, and product efforts on them.

Target audiences can be B2C (business to consumers) and B2B (business to business).

The characteristics we share work for both. Yet, due to time constraints here, I mainly provide B2C examples.

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Why is it important to define a target audience?

As long as you are not a global player, it is very crucial that you use your scarce resources wisely. Even though you want the entire world to care about it, you need to start somewhere.

So, defining your target audience helps you in numerous ways:

  • Choose the right marketing channels to meet them (Social Media, SEO, print, etc.)
  • Tailor your sales funnel specifically to them
  • Create clear messages to get their attention
  • Adapt your services and product to meet their needs
  • Sell more / get more donations because your messages and products are adapted to your target audience

Now, let’s discover 9 characteristics you can use to define your target audience.

9 target market characteristics to define your audience


1. Demographics

Demographics give you a very simple understanding of your potential customers or donors. It includes information such as:

  • age;
  • gender;
  • income level;
  • education level;
  • occupation;
  • marital status;
  • And so on.

2. Psychographics

This characteristic helps you understand the motivations and preferences of those you want to win over for your nature cause. Here it is about your target audience’s interests, opinions, attitudes, and personality traits.

3. Behaviors

Here, you look at the usual brand loyalty, buying habits, online activities, and media consumption of your potential customers. Understanding their behavior enables you to tailor your entire strategy from marketing to product to them.

4. Geography

Biodiversity loss is a global issue, so it is just normal that you think globally. Yet, as long as you are small to mid-sized, it is crucial you focus strategically on some areas first.

So here you are considering the country, continent, city, urban or rural areas and language preferences of your potential customers.

5. Needs & Pains

To attract the right people, you need to understand their challenges and wants. This allows you to communicate about their pains at eye level and show how your solution can help them.

6. Values

This is your aspect where you can really trigger people to act. All humans have some unshakable values. It is crucial that you know those of your target audience so that your marketing messages truly resonate with them.

7. Communication preferences

My grandma communicates differently than my mum, and my mum uses different communication channels than me.

My grandma likes to watch TV and communicate via WhatsApp. My mum is on Facebook and likes to call. I am mainly on Linkedin and like to communicate there. We all have different areas where we hang out and different channels we use to communicate with one another.

To avoid spreading your resources too thin, you must understand how your potential customers like to communicate with you and others. In addition to that, defining where they get information from is essential. Examples are social media, newsletters, phone calls, etc.

8. Purchase power

I can’t stress enough how crucial this point is. It is great if students love what you do with your nature NGO. But if you don’t find ways they can financially support you, you will have a hard time keeping things running.

So, you need to make sure that you find a target audience that is capable of paying for your services. This characteristic helps you to find the right pricing strategy and understand the capacity of what they can spend.

9. Influencers

Now, in our context of nature, these are not the Kim Kardashians. However, your potential target audiences are also influenced by some people. They can have a great impact on getting the attention of your potential donors or customers.

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Example: 9 target market characteristics of a Coral Gardening NGO


1. Demographics

You could say that the age ranges from 25-45, both genders, diverse income levels, and educational backgrounds. This is often a bit more general, but age and gender are the 2 points I would be specific about if you can.

2. Psychographics

People who are environmentally conscious individuals, nature lovers, and those passionate about preserving marine ecosystems.

3. Behavior

Here, you would consider individuals who actively:

  • engage in activities related to marine conservation;
  • participate in beach clean-ups;
  • follow environmental organizations on social media;
  • show interest in sustainable tourism;
  • do some water sports.

4. Geography

Here you would focus first on those people that live close to the sea. Because the chances are usually higher that populations on the coastline have some invested interest in reef protection.

5. Needs & Pains

Here it would be, for example:

  • a desire to protect coral reefs;
  • a need for education on coral conservation;
  • concern about the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems.

6. Values

You would first target individuals who:

  • prioritize environmental sustainability;
  • have a deep respect for nature;
  • believe in the importance of preserving biodiversity for future generations.

7. Communication preferences of your target audience

Depending on the age group that you are after and the previous set of characteristics, you would choose the right social media channel for you.

If you struggle with that, I wrote an article where I provide 7 Tips on How To Choose The Right Social Media Platform For Your Nature Organization.

Let’s say we would pick a target audience >35 years old. Facebook, email newsletters, online forums, and educational events or workshops would be a good way to go.

8. Purchase power

In this case, it would be providing the usual donation strategy but also going beyond. This target audience can afford water activities, so why not offer trips to those coral gardens? Another idea would be to create a system where 1% of the monthly salary goes towards your NGO.

9. Influencers

Influencers for us could be marine biologists, environmental scientists, conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts, travel bloggers, sailors, etc.

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Your turn: time to define your target audience


5 actions to get people to care by creating a bulletproof target audience

  1. Block yourself an hour to reflect on your current target audience. Do you have one? Are you clear about it?
  2. Go through the 9 characteristics and get your target audience bulletproof. No matter if you have one already or not.
  3. Reflect on your marketing, sales, and product if the target audience is really reflected in everything you do.
  4. Create a list of all possible improvements to address your target audience better.
  5. Sort them by biggest impact, shortest time & resource investment, and start executing.

Cheat sheet to define your target audience

In a nutshell: Being unclear about your target audience can be one of the biggest reasons that currently hold you back from increasing your impact.

Best book: Brand the Change by Anne Miltenburg

Best tools: Anne also provides case studies and tools directly on her website: Brand the Change

Best practices: When you start your nature venture, really niche down and only later grow into the mainstream.

The world is very noisy, and getting people to care about your nature venture is hard. So, in order to cut through the noise, defining your target audience is crucial!

See you next week. Have a wild one!


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