There’s an old adage in advertising that says if you’re trying to speak to everyone, you’re speaking to no one. And when small businesses need to stretch fewer marketing dollars even further, defining your target audience is critical to a getting a good return on your marketing investment.

Who should you be targeting? Broadly speaking, you should target people who have a need or use for your product or service. More specifically, it should be people for whom your brand is likely to resonate with, and finally, people who are likely to buy your product.

How do you determine that narrow group of people? Start by taking a step back and carefully examining your product. What are its features and what are the corresponding benefits? If you’re marketing a to-do list app that lets users create tasks by speaking into their phones, you’re not selling voice activation (the feature), you’re selling the benefit of helping users never forget important things by making it easy to create tasks while on-the-go.

Once you have a list of benefits, choose those that are the most important or the most unique and think about what problem it solves. It may be a short-term problem, like finding a quick and healthy meal for tomorrow night, or it may be a long-term problem, like figuring out how to live a healthier lifestyle while working long hours.

What types of people have the problems that your product solves? Who are your current customers? Why are they buying your product? Use these questions to build a demographic and psychographic profile of your target audience.

Demographics include statistical data, like age, gender, income level, occupation, etc. Psychographics, on the other hand, include your audience’s attitudes, lifestyle, values, personality, and so on. This information will help give you a concrete foundation to begin thinking about their motivations and desires, which will help you create specific and effective marketing messages.

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend money on hiring a research firm to find a lot of this information. Search online for articles, blogs, surveys, forums, etc. that are either about your audience, speak to your audience, or are written by your audience. These sources are chock full of information that will help you build a richer profile of your target audience.