As a marketer, one of the most important skills needed is the ability to determine their target audience. It’s the foundation of any marketing strategy. It helps a brand create products and services and even determines which marketing channels you use to promote your brand.

The funny thing is, a lot of marketers struggle to define their target audience. While every brand wants to market to everyone, it’s simply not possible. To truly be successful with marketing efforts, marketers must identify who their audience is, where they spend their time and how they can reach them.

The better you understand your target demographic, the easier it is to advertise without thrusting it down their throats. Consumers of today are far smarter than ever before. They don’t want to be sold to. They want to do business with brands that are interactive and tell a story with their marketing efforts.

Before anything else, you need to do your research. The best way to determine who wants to do business with you is by interacting with current customers. Once you understand the characteristics of your current customer base, you can then create marketing strategies that attract like-minded people.

For example, if someone owns an online business, they can gather information from previous customers’ online activity and tracking trends. For example, they can consider age, location, spending patterns and even what language they speak.

In addition, checking out the competition is a must. There’s a lot of useful information marketers can find out by watching what the competition is doing with their market segments. Are they reaching target groups you haven’t considered? How are they positioning themselves?

While it’s impossible to see the exact people the competition is interacting with, it is possible to have a better understanding of what type of approach they are taking.

Once the market segments are defined and strategy is created, then perform A/B testing can be performed. Refining your strategy allows marketers to hone in on the segments proven to be most receptive.

Finally, determining your target audience takes empathy. Think like a consumer and put yourself in their shoes. What makes one person want to buy a product may not be exactly the same formula as someone else’s, but at the very least, its a starting point.