target audience

5 Signs Your Startup Is Targeting the Wrong Audience and How to Solve It

No doubt creating a startup can be challenging by definition. It couldn’t be otherwise since startups aim to disrupt  industry. But how do they find their place in it? Innovation is their ultimate weapon, launching a service or product that consumers need and no one has offered yet.

There are two factors that differentiate startups from other companies: a unique idea and quick, notable growth. To have growth, the first thing you need to do is identify your target audience. As regards this prerequisite, a startup is no different than any other business.

Why is finding the right target market important?

No matter how revolutionary what you’re offering is, not everyone will want to buy it. Aiming at a general audience is a recipe for disaster. When you create a startup, the first necessary step is to set a clear target audience. Otherwise, your marketing campaigns will cost you a fortune without many chances of return on investment. 

Furthermore, your sales conversion rates will start off — and stay — low, while your website visitors or newsletter subscribers will show lower engagement than expected. Your marketing efforts must focus on groups demonstrating genuine interest in your business proposition. 

Marketing for everyone translates into losing time, effort and, of course, money. So, let’s explore the signs that you’re in the wrong place regarding your consumer base and analyze how you can get back on track.

Common Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make in Their Business Journey

You don’t know your buyer personas

Surprisingly enough, most startups hit the ground running without knowing their audience — a parameter that is crucial to have figured out before entering the market. In case you planned your business thinking your proposition can appeal to anyone, you better reconsider. Targeting the right audience will show you which direction your marketing strategy should be taking.

To monitor who your potential customers are, thorough research is a must. Don’t narrow down your audience right from the beginning, though. Start by thinking of broader groups and leverage from certain metrics like gender, age, education, income, etc. Then, go ahead and identify your key buyer personas. Don’t forget to create a detailed profile and use it to add elements of personalization to your marketing efforts. 

Once you have that profile built, make sure you expand your knowledge base so that it goes beyond demographics. Think about collecting behavioral data as well, including lifestyles or interests. And while gathering relevant data seems like a challenge, there are certain tools you can get them from, such as reports, surveys, polls and sales statistics. 

After double-checking your data accuracy, determine how each customer prefers to be contacted and, most importantly,  what they want to hear. If you are satisfied with your ideal buyer personas, you can proceed with aligning your marketing strategy to their actual needs.

5 Ways E-Commerce Entrepreneurs Can Make More Data-Driven Decisions

Your marketing efforts cost too much

A sign that you have been aiming wrong is that your startup shows high marketing costs for too long without it being reflected in your revenue. Spending tons of money on an inappropriate audience could result in going out of business. With the need to increase your revenue quickly, this is the perfect opportunity for you to accept that what you offer won’t work for everyone. 

It means that you may have to ignore, at least in the short term, customer segments with lower profit margins or that represent a smaller market. To generate maximum ROI while keeping the effort involved to a minimum, you need to build a solid email list and take advantage of its most profitable segments.

By doing so, your capital will be money well spent. Since you already know things about the people who want to buy from you, you can now repurpose your campaigns to meet their expectations. But are you aware that there are also many look-alikes out there who are just as interested in your business proposition? Once you have your customers clarified, finding similar audiences will be a walk in the park.



Your competitors have taken over the market

It sounds intimidating, but you might discover that there isn’t a wide market for what your startup has to offer. Can you go back and try something else? The answer is yes — and you should, given that the size of a startup’s market demonstrates the scale of its opportunity. A small market could eventually result in your company bleeding money.

So, let us begin with the assumption that there are other companies that have already launched a similar product. In order to position yourself within the industry, you must first study your rivals. Through this research, it is possible to increase your revenue even after your startup launches. 

Subscribe to their email list, visit their website, check their social media (and their followers), search for their ads. Competitive analysis might also provide you with data regarding how consumers in your target market tend to behave.


Surely your startup’s goals will vary based on your product and industry. All you need to do is ask the right questions. Are you going to share the same consumers or pick an audience group your competitors have missed? Will you rely only on loyal and returning customers or develop acquisition strategies for new customers? When you have the answers, the way will be paved for readjusting your startup’s target market accordingly.

You receive an unusual amount of negative feedback

Almost every product or service has flaws. Let’s take for granted that bad reviews won’t necessarily prevent other people from purchasing. Disappointed consumers usually require effective customer service. Consider providing it through a follow-up email, social media contact or a direct answer to the reviews demonstrating your desire to make it up to them. 

Customer reviews are an integral part of your marketing, and you can’t afford to take them lightly. However, increased bad reviews might also be an indicator that you have been targeting wrong. After spending time and money on marketing, the last thing you want to get in return is negative consumer feedback.

Τargeting the wrong audience and getting bad reviews are correlated. If your business is aligned with a cause that is clearly stated in your marketing, you need to make sure that this cause also expresses your audience. Imagine you publish something that annoys or offends the customer group you are going for.  If certain types of content get them upset, that feeling might be extended to your entire company. You wouldn’t want them thinking of your emails as spam because this could drive them away for good.

Again, the answer lies in redefining your customer personas so that you better engage with them. Bear in mind that not all people are shopping for the same reason or following the same patterns. The goal of creating the customer persona is to figure out the behavioral shopping approaches of consumers within your target market. Your email lists need to be managed in a way that targets different audience segments if you’re looking to increase your conversions.

You are leaving out your existing consumer base

Surely crafting messages tailored to various segments is of utmost importance. But what about reaching the people who are already loyal to your brand? One of the most important marketing mistakes is aiming for a brand-new audience. Instead of using long-term methods, spend time detecting the aforementioned groups and whether they match your company’s purpose.

Leveraging existing groups that are interested in what your brand is offering will shorten the way to success. If your product or service adequately addresses a certain audience’s need, it is almost sure that they will spread the word to others naturally –and with little effort on your end. Word-of-mouth marketing and social proof material like expert reviews or testimonial videos are always welcome so opt for trusting them. 

Assuming your startup already has a website, don’t forget about checking its traffic reports as well. Reports can be grouped by demographic information, helping you identify which users are most engaged with your website. These efficient tactics will lead to your marketing team freeing up time to retain customers and turn them into your best advertising method, since retaining a customer is always cheaper than acquiring a new one.


Entrepreneurs face the tough challenge of working hard to expand their business, as well as getting relevant funding. During this hard process, the basic rules for doing so shouldn’t be ignored. Are your marketing strategies not getting you where you hoped? The first thing you need to do is investigate if you are targeting the right people

Build a clear customer profile. Invest in the most profitable audience segments, while also digging into your existing customers’ intel. Monitor what impact your marketing efforts have on your target market; if you find out any adjustments are required, make sure they are aligned with what consumers expect from your business. 

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