As best you can, you'll want to create a profile that describes the audience you want to target—called demographics. Among the demographics you're going to want to figure out are the following:
Too often, entrepreneurs will say, “We want to reach everyone!” and simply refuse to pinpoint a target audience. It's a silly, amateurish way to approach marketing. Think about it: If you want to reach absolutely everyone, how will you possibly market your site? What will your site have to offer that everyone would want?
Understanding the demographic profile of your audience is vital to the success of every aspect of your entire site. Let's take an extreme example. Say you're running a site that sells pre-paid credit cards to people with bad credit. Your site offers the pre-paid cards for purchase, as well as some articles on improving your credit score and saving money that you sell ads around. Clearly, there's a target market you're going to want to focus on reaching: males and females who are most likely younger (between the ages of 21 and 40), less educated, on the lower end of the income scale, and, obviously, having bad credit or no credit. Knowing that, who are you going to sell your advertising to? Chances are, you won't do well trying to convince Lexus to advertise on your site. But you might have good luck getting a payday advance company or online credit score service to run some ads. And how will you attract your audience? Putting online ads on Forbes.com won't likely get you many clicks. Ads that reach younger, more urban audiences, like hip hop and other music sites, would be a better bet.
In some cases, you can generate an audience profile through common sense. But be careful when you do that, because some audiences might not be quite as obvious as they seem. For example, there are many products that you might assume would appeal to men, but in reality women are the decision-makers behind the purchasing. Take wood-stain products. If you go to any Home Depot, you'll most likely see men buying these products. But for the majority of them, it's their wives who have done the research into which color stain they want. The men just go to the store and pick the item up. So the marketing for the product is really geared toward female homeowners rather than males, as common sense might otherwise lead you to believe.