Who you talkin’ to? Identifying your target market


Do you feel like you’re spinning your wheels? Spending time and money promoting your business, only to see a limited (if any) response?

Maybe you’re not talking to the right people.

Do you know who your customers really are?

If you haven’t identified the ideal customer (a.k.a target market) for your product stop everything and do it now.  Understanding your customers is the single most important step in creating marketing campaigns that actually work.

If you think “Well, it really could be anybody” then I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but you’re wrong. You can’t be all things to all people, or as we like to say in marketing “if you’re talking to everybody, then you’re talking to nobody.”

Every product and service has a limited appeal. That’s why Ford makes both F-150s and Mustangs. Either one will drive you from point A to point B, but they target distinctly different markets.

Why identifying your target market is so important

Most business owners (at least the ones I’ve encountered) come at marketing from the wrong angle. Their focus is on their product or service and what it can do. But in order to break through your customer’s natural BS-detector and grab their attention, you need to change your focus to them. What do they care about? What problems do they have that you can solve?

And you can’t possibly answer those questions unless you know who they are!

How do I know who my target market is?

To begin defining your target market, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who would buy this?
  2. Why would they buy it?
  3. Why would they choose to buy this over a competitor?

Download the identifying your target market worksheet

As you’re formulating your answers be sure to think about:

  • Geography: Do you only serve local customers? You’ll want to target a market that lives nearby.
  • Society: Different markets experience different social pressures. Will your customers only buy “green” products? Do they always shop latest trends? Will they buy anything to keep up with the Joneses?
  • Money: The price of your product will always influence your target market. Some customers choose low priced products because they have to; some seek out the best deal; then there are those who will buy the most expensive option just because it is the most expensive.
  • Personality: Is your customer always on the go-go-go or are they laid back? Are they liberal or conservative? What do they like to watch on TV? What makes them laugh?
  • Other demographics: Should you be targeting men or women? Baby Boomers or Millennials? White collar or blue collar? Etc. Etc.

It is okay to have more than one target audience; however, you’ll want to develop separate marketing campaigns for each group. To illustrate my point, start paying attention to different ads for the same product. Notice how they may target men differently than women and families differently than singles.

How to research your target market

I should note here that identifying your target market and learning what makes them tick is hard. Large corporations are willing to pay a lot of money for market research and Big Data that tells them who’s interested in buying what and why. But if you can’t afford to pay other people, you’ll have to do some sleuthing on your own. Here’s how:

  1. Put yourself in the customer’s’ shoes. What do you think about before making a purchase like this?
  2. Ask your existing customers. Why did they choose you? How did they benefit from their purchase?
  3. Stalk your ideal customers online. What do their LinkedIn profiles say about them? Who do they reTweet? What do they say in their Yelp! reviews?
  4. Use analytics. What pages on your website get the most traffic? What content gets the most engagement?
  5. Google it. What statistics are available from trade organizations, industry groups, or even the government that are relevant to your audience? What articles are being written on the subject?

It can help to get a fresh perspective. That’s why identifying your target market is usually the first topic I cover with my clients in our Marketing Therapy sessions. You might also find it helpful to download my Customer Profile Worksheet free of charge.


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