Target Audience: How to successfully Identify Their True Desires.

 min read

Here's one quick way you can identify your audience's key desires and channel them to your product.


There’s nothing more satisfying than achieving inbox zero. Okay, maybe snoozing the irritating alarm clock.

But seriously, get this:

49% of employees check their emails every few hours, even when they are not working.

Why is this? Why do we check our emails every few hours?

You know that feeling you get after ticking off your to-do-list or completing a task? Same goes with your unread emails. You feel so much better when you’ve read all your emails. Scaling them down from 50 to 0.

Completion bias is the tendency we have of ticking off the easiest of tasks to feel the sense of achievement.

And when we read all the emails, we meet our desire for feeling accomplished and give ourselves a sense of vague progress.

Google used this desire to inspire the design of the Gmail app. They designed the app in a way it tempts its users to satisfy their desire by going through   each of their unread emails.

As humans, we already have these desires. They are inborn. When you identify these desires and channel them to your product, you can build a product people come back to, to satisfy their wants.

The “father of advertising” Eugene Schwartz couldn’t say it better:

Copy can’t create a desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exist in the hearts of millions of people, and focus those existing desires onto a particular product.

Your website copy, product design, or any amount of marketing budget can’t create these mass desires. Google identified this mass desire and channelled it to its product. And so can you.

To inspire action, base any marketing initiative on your audience’s key desires. From writing your website copy, designing your product, running paid advertisements to marketing on social media. The success of these marketing initiatives largely relies on how your messaging would resonate with them, and that can only be done when you know what your audience truly desires or cares about.

And that’s something that can’t really be nailed down by surveys or talking to users to uncover these desires. I mean, they help in knowing your customers, but won’t disclose their genuine desires.

When you get the reason why people do what they do. Why they check their mail so frequently and in your case, why they may use your product, you will:

  • Stir up action, whether it’s signing up to something or in general, clicking on your call to action.
  • Improve your brand messaging.
  • Be able to communicate how your product is a necessity.

So, how can you identify your audience’s desires?

Why do people watch TikTok videos? For entertainment, of course. But what truly motivates them, that they themselves might not know, is that they wish they could move so elegantly, in sync and create a trendy video.

One way you can identify the core desires of your audience is through the 5 whys technique.

This technique is adapted from the Toyota production system which the architect, Taiichi Ohno, describes the 5 whys method as "the basis of Toyota's scientific approach by repeating why five times, the nature of the problem as well as its solution becomes clear."

In his book, Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, Ohno gives an example of the technique in practice. Suppose a machine stopped functioning:

  1. Why did the machine stop?
    Ans: There was an overload, and the fuse blew.
  2. Why was there an overload?
    Ans: The bearing was not sufficiently lubricated.
  3. Why was it not lubricated sufficiently?
    Ans: The lubrication pump was not pumping
    sufficiently.
  4. Why was it not pumping sufficiently?
    Ans: The shaft of the pump was worn and rattling.
  5. Why was the shaft worn out?
    Ans: There was no strainer attached and metal scrap got in.

Ohno used this technique to dig into problems, find their root cause, and come up with solutions. For us, we will ask “Why?” as many times until we get to the emotion that drives human behaviour.

Let’s say we are building a video conferencing tool called Vimeetio. What a name! Right? Our target user is a middle-aged head of product named Simon.

Simon says he wishes to remotely communicate with his team.

We will identify the core desire behind this need by answering the following series of whys:

  1. Why would Simon want to use Vimeetio?
    Ans: So he can see his team and communicate with them.
  2. Why would he want to communicate with his team?
    Ans: To know the progress made regarding a project.
  3. Why would he want to know the progress made?
    Ans: To identify any hiccup and see if they need him.
  4. Why would he want to know if they need him?
    Ans: To make sure everything is going on well.
  5. Why would he want to make sure everything is going on well?
    Ans: He fears they will not complete the project in time.

So, we have an emotion; fear.

We can design our product to play into this emotion and instigate frequent usage of our product. It can be by adding a feature that lets Simon add annotations and timestamps to communicate each task to every team. Thereby everyone knows their duties, and the project is completed on time.

We can therefore test the product and our messaging with our user’s desire in mind.

Points to remember when working out your users’ core desires:

  • The answers to the whys should be from the user’s point of view.
  • Ask why? Until you reach an emotion that explains their human behaviour.

Over to you.

What’s your target audience’s core desire?