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Why and How to Identify your Target Market

by | Apr 21, 2016 | Brand Management, Business Strategy & Process, Digital Marketing

Whether you are only now starting your business, or if you’ve been around a little while, chances are you are following one of two courses of action when it comes to selling your product or your service.

You may be one who thinks simply because you have an offering your customers will come. After all, you reason, “I’ve got a good thing here. No doubt customers will break down my door and step over one another just to get to it.” So, you’re putting little-to-no energy or resources into your marketing efforts.

If you haven’t yet noticed, the response is probably not what you had hoped for. In reality, not everyone is buying what you’re selling; though, some are most definitely in the market. Others may one day, but today may not be that day.

Or you might have the pasta mindset – throwing handfuls of spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. Though you may be tempted to sell your product or service to everyone that is not the wisest course of action. Again, not everyone is interested. And, this method can easily exhaust your most valuable resources –time and money.

You may be wondering, what is the best course of action.  

It is somewhere between putting no sweat into your marketing efforts and throwing everything but the kitchen sink out into the black hole of endless efforts. What we’re talking about today takes focus and attention. It takes identifying who is exactly your target market, finding them and then helping them find you. And then, once they know who you are, facilitate their realization that they simply can’t live without your product or service.

It’s much more cost-effective to identify your target market and focus your resources and efforts toward them. Not only will you experience success, you will experience optimal success. Learning who is your target market will not only enable you to create offerings that better suit their needs, you will be better able to craft superior marketing campaigns to capture their interest and to convert them into buyers.

What Is a Target Market?

A target market can be broken down into four components:

  1. Who (demographics): this includes basic personal information, such as gender, family size, educational level and occupation – among other details.
  2. Where (geographics): these are the details about where they live, such as climate, population density and size of that area.
  3. Why (psychographics): what motivates this group to make the decisions they make? This can include a myriad of details such as their personality and lifestyle, to name a couple.
  4. How (behaviors): how does this potential market regard their need for the product, or even product itself? Where do they go to learn about products? How much information do they need before making a buying decision?

By keeping these four components in mind, let’s figure out how to find your target market.

Initial Steps to Finding Your Target Market

First, clarify the problem your product or service solves and then determine who would be willing to pay for your solution. The person who needs you might be your customer. But, as mentioned, the customer is actually the person who will be paying. Oftentimes, the person who needs you is not the same person who will be paying. So, you need to determine who will be paying.

Let me give you an example. A senior woman may not be able to cook meals anymore, so could really use a service to provide for her needs. But, she may not be able to afford it. But, her daughter can. So, her daughter will be choosing the service and paying for it. If you offer such a service, you would need to focus on the daughter; though, she is not the person who will actually be using the service.

Now that you know who a potential customer is, really delve into who they are using the four components we discussed earlier. By listing the characteristics of your typical customer in great depth you will get a more-detailed image of who your customer is. This will allow you to home in on your target audience with much more accuracy. These characteristics can pertain to anything within those four components, including: lifestyle, income earned, disposable income, geographical location, hobbies, and well, you get the idea.

In fact, it would help you to actually see your customer in your mind’s eye. What does he or she look like? How does this person behave? You can even name your target customer as you create your dossier.

Affordable Methods to Find Your Market

Don’t be one who overestimates potential market size or assumes to know who prospects are by virtue of your own experiences or presumptions. You know what they say about making assumptions? There are a myriad of ways to find out who needs your product or service. Some of these methods – such as surveys, interviews or focus groups – are not affordable or feasible for smaller business.

However, there are methods that are just as productive for those with a more limited budget or staff. Simply tap into your social networks to conduct a more informal research. The more people you can ‘talk to’ in order to more deeply understand their needs, the savvier you will become in understanding how to meet those needs.

This is also a good time to consider your current clientele. You can easily define your perfect target market by meticulously assessing who your current customer is. Identify common characteristics using the four components as your guide. Thoroughly apprehend why they buy from you and how loyal they are. You current customer is who you want to target.

Another way to help define who you are selling to is your retail strategy: are you brick-and-mortar or online? Do you sell globally or locally? The answers to these questions will help guide you toward finding your target market. For instance, if you have a physical store, you’ll be selling to locals. Who are they? Again, use your four components as your standard to define them.

Though you don’t want to copy anyone, by studying your competitors, you could glean what has worked for them and what doesn’t. Oftentimes, there is no need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to finding your target market. Observe the market they’re targeting. There’s a good chance they’ve hit upon the segment you want to target. Review their marketing materials, such as: website, social media campaigns, or brochures. You may stumble upon your perfect audience with very little effort.

Keep on Your Toes

As a result of your research, you may find that your product or service addresses the needs of a variety of consumers. But, chances are, you still have a primary audience. These are the people who have the greatest need for your offerings – and have the ability to pay. They get the most out of it and buy the largest quantity more regularly. Though your principal focus is your primary audience, it certainly doesn’t hurt to advertise to your secondary audience.

As with any fluid thing, your target market may change, or evolve, over time. Stay continuously aware. Though you don’t want to change course at a whim, you want to keep on your toes and be always ready to make necessary tweaks or alterations.


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