Before you create an advertising message or decide where you’ll run it, you must know whom you’re targeting. Determining the exact audience for your product or service is the first step in developing an ad campaign. Once you know that, you can effectively develop your message, choosing media options that your target customer will watch, read or listen to.

Target Audience

Some companies create a product or service, then fine-tune targeting the exact customer who wants or needs it. Other businesses decide who they want to target first, then tweak their product or service to make it more attractive to that audience. Whichever path your company takes, you must learn the demographics, or personal characteristics, of your audience. This includes traits such as age, sex, income level, parental status, race, geographic location and educational level.


Knowing the demographics of your target audience helps you when choosing advertising vehicles, but it is not enough to help you craft your message. You might know that your target audience is affluent single women between the ages of 25 and 40 with college educations, but that is not why they are your target customers. What makes your target audience similar, in terms of marketing, is their need for a particular benefit. Benefits include reasons to buy, such as affordability, quality, status, excellent customer service or convenience. You build brands, advertising campaigns and ad messages around a benefit your target audience wants.


Once you know what you need to say and to whom you’re speaking, you can create your advertising message. This will affect your choice of graphics, color and copy. Women, for example, respond better to stories and can process more detail more than men do, according to researcher Melanie Yarborough. Men prefer blocks of simple information that solve problems. Use softer colors, rounded shapes and pictures of women who look like your customer when you advertise to women. You might be more successful getting the attention of men if you use modular layouts, geometric shapes and pictures of attractive women.

Media Options

Using your knowledge of your target customer and benefit message, you select media options for placing ads that not only reach your audience but also protect your brand. For example, if you have a choice to reach your upscale audience for the same price using a local newspaper or regional glossy magazine, you would choose the glossy magazine to align your upscale image with that of the magazine’s. Even if the magazine advertising costs a bit more, one of your advertising goals is to include a specific image message about your product. Advertisers choose media options using the information found in each magazine’s, website’s, broadcast station’s or outdoor-signage company’s media kit. A media kit provides facts about an advertising vehicle, including a detailed demographic description of the audience who is reading, watching, visiting or listening.