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Discovering Your Target Audience and Making the Right Pitch. Part One of a two-part series on learning how to connect to people with your message.

Big Ideas Summary

The introductory video features our friend, Justin Hanna, who is an expert in youth marketing and social engagement for young entrepreneurs. Watch him talk about how to develop a successful marketing campaign through building engagement with your brand and discovering your target audience.

In previous featured topics, we have explored various methods of marketing that enable entrepreneurs to deliver their message to the public in interesting and effective ways. But, before you go shouting your idea from the mountaintop, you need to have the right information, skills, and tools to successfully get your idea out there. This month’s feature topic is part of a two-part series that discusses where to begin, and how to effectively deliver your project idea to the world. Finding the right formula is an issue that can “make or break” any startup, and thus, is an important step in sustaining your dream. Read on to learn about how you can effectively discover and relate to your target audience, and the skills that are needed to successfully get your idea out there!

Target Audience

Aristotle said, "The fool persuades me with his reasons; the wise man persuades me with my own." Or put more simply, if you want to persuade anyone to do anything, you need to appeal to their values. If one’s needs are at the forefront, it is that much easier to hold their attention. This is why is so very important that you know your audience intimately before creating a marketing campaign or delivering your pitch.

In building a new socially innovative idea, it’s essential that entrepreneurs are able to identify a solution to a problem by approaching it from the inside out. Of equal importance, however, is the fundamental need for innovators to completely understand their target audience, so that these concepts and ideas can eventually reach those who they are intended to reach. Of course, not every message will work for every audience member, so it becomes critical to have an adequate grasp of the needs and motivations behind your target audience and they ways in which you can distinctively connect with them. Many times new entrepreneurs will use their own personal experiences to colour how they will share their ideas and don’t have a solid understanding of their target audience. Entrepreneurs who rely too have heavily on their own perceptions, and not spent enough time on research or analytics will often struggle in gaining support. As Justin Hanna mentions in the video above, knowing your audience is more than thinking in terms of demographics - it is about relating and engaging with their lives on an emotional and experiential level. Of course, this type of research definitely takes time and effort, but in the end it produces insightful information describing the driving factors behind the behaviour of prospective customers and investors.


Once you have identified your target audience, it becomes that much easier to appeal to their values and give a successful elevator pitch. Essentially, an elevator pitch can be defined as: "a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organization or event and its value proposition" (Wikipedia, 2014). An elevator pitch is quite different than a pitch presentation, (you can find out more about how to craft a pitch presentation here) in that is is vastly shorter in length. An elevator pitch usually lasts thirty-seconds, or rather, the time it takes to ride the "elevator". To really make the most of this opportunity with your target audience, take the time to create an amazing pitch. Of course, you may have different audiences, so augment your message each time to suit the audience you have. At the end of the day, you’re there to share tailored information with your target audience in the hopes of providing a solution, appealing to their values, and fulfilling their needs in terms of your project purpose. In the end, the more evidence you can provide to illustrate how your idea provides a solution to a critical social issue that they are partial to; the more likely your idea will gain support.


UnLtd provides this great, in-depth, description of how to define and understand your target audience for a social venture. The website itself also provides many other valuable resources on developing your social innovation too!

Entrepreneur features an introspective article that poses ten questions to ask yourself in order to better determine your target audience.

Technori - an online educational platform for startups - shares five "critical" tips and activities you can do right now to identify your target audience.

Melissa Galt - Career Coach and Keynote Speaker - shares even more advice on what questions you should be asking (and answering) yourself when defining who your target audience is in this great article.

There are many great resources available that describe what you should do when identifying your target audience. But what shouldn’t you do? This article by Alexis Rodrigo outlines five common pitfalls when identifying your target audience.

Having trouble articulating the value that your social innovation brings to the world? Melissa Galt shares some quick solutions in creating an effective, yet simple elevator pitch.

When to deploy and how to deliver your elevator pitch is just as important as what to include in your pitch. This article by Entrepreneur offers six great tips in how to execute your elevator pitch.

After you have drafted your pitch, be sure to spend time perfecting it to it’s fullest potential. This article by Garage Technology Ventures outlined some strategies that you can use to develop your pitch even further.

With all of the great ideas that exist on how to create your elevator pitch, there is also the bad- find out more about what a poorly crafted pitch includes in this Forbes article.


Having trouble identifying your target audience? Melissa Galt shares this easy-to-understand system to find your “ideal” target audience.

There are many ways to craft an attractive elevator pitch. To make it easier, Melissa Galt outlines a simple, yet effective formula - with examples - to help you begin crafting your pitch.

This video featuring Simon Sinek, that shows the importance of having a value proposition and relating to your target audience.


In this podcast by CBC radio, Terry O’Reilly goes into depth on the art of the elevator pitch - sharing its history and influence as an indispensable tool for every startup entrepreneur.


Laura Lowell. (2012). The 42 Rules of Marketing. Second Edition. Super Star Press Publishing.

Chris Westfall. (2012). The New Elevator Pitch. Marie Street Press Publishing.

Charney & Singh. (2010). Hitting Stryde: A Gen ‘Y’ Career Survival Guide. Chapter 10. Stryde Publishing.

Shaun Varga. (2009). Brilliant Pitch. Pearson Business Publishing.

Andy Bounds. (2010) The Jelly Effect: How to Make Your Communication Stick. Capstone Publishing; Rev Rep edition.

Nathan Furr & Jeff Dyer. (2014) The Innovator’s Method: Bringing the Lean Start-up into Your Organization. HBR Press.


Melissa Galt @MelissaGalt

Justin Hanna @JustinDHanna

Simon Sinek @simonsinek

Terry O’Reilly @TerryOInfluence


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