Choosing Your Target Market and Reaping the Rewards.

Have you ever thought to sit down and define who your target market is? What sort of benefits do you think your company would get from clearly identifying who is buying from you?

There are very few companies in the world who can get away without defining a target market. As I try to come up with examples, I can really only think of MacDonalds. They are the only company I can think of who can honestly say they target the young and old, male and female and people of all walks of life.

Is your company MacDonalds?

No, you’re not.

So how do you move away from the mentality of targeting everyone with your marketing materials? In this article I’m going to go over a few ways to use target marketing for your company, which will help you see increased returns on investment for your business.

But I want to sell to everyone!

Nobody’s stopping you. This doesn’t mean you won’t sell to anyone who picks up the phone or walks through the door (if you wish) but what this is going to do is identify a certain type of people who use your product or service more frequently and targets them in your materials.

If these people are already more inclined to buy your service or product because of their current situation or life circumstances, then the sales process is easier and less expensive for you.

Sounds great! Where do we start?

There are two ways to go about finding your target market: research, and research.

Method #1 – Research

If your company has been in business for a while, take a look at the average features of your existing customers. You’re looking for broad characteristics that suit approximately half of your customers (at least).

Below you’ll find a list of key traits to use when identifying your market. These are the major segments you’ll use to identify your market and should be used as stepping stone to others.

If your existing customers are men aged 35-45 who have families and make more than $100k a year, then you’re getting close to your target market. But if you also know they all find fly fishing relaxing and do it on the weekends, then you’ve found the best kind of info to use in your marketing.

Method #2 – Research

If you’re a brand new company, target market research is a bit more esoteric. You sit down and you think about who your customers will be. Then take that info and do some research into your industry and your competitors.

Who do you think buys these services or products the most? At what point in their lives are people buying your products? Using these and the questions below, you’ll get closer to your target market and make your marketing more focused.

So much research.

It really is – but the time you spend doing this step will more than pay for itself in the long run. You’ll reduce the amount of effort going into people who aren’t inclined to buy from you and increase the likelihood your ideal customer is going to see your marketing and go “Yes! sign me up!”

So how do you get started on defining your target market? When you have all this research, it shouldn’t be too hard to ask the following questions and come up with the answers. Remember when you ask these questions you need to make sure at least 50% of your current market or a majority of your new market has these traits.

Questions to ask when defining your target market.

Demographic information.

This is the info which will tell us some basic statistics about our customer, keeping in mind this info does not necessarily make the most meaningful connections (that part will come below) but is a great place to start.

  1. How old?
    Break into ranges like 18-24 or 25-35 to make it easiest for you.
  2. What sex?
    Male or Female?
  3. Where do they live?
    Not jut city, but area – are they downtown dwellers? Suburbs? Rural?
  4. Education level
    When did they stop going to school? Hint: this one usually defines their reading level and style of humour.
  5. Income
    How much do they make in a year? How much money do they have to spend on your particular services or products?
  6. Marital and family status
    Married? Single? In a long term relationship? Still waiting to be kissed?
  7. Occupation
    What do they do to make money or what takes up the majority of their day? If your market is children then ‘cleaning their room’ or ‘school’ is totally acceptable.

Psychographic information.

Here’s where you get to be a bit more creative with your analysis. If you have existing customers you can base this off of conversations you’ve had with them and compare them to people you know elsewhere. If your company or product is new then you have my permission to be a bit creative here.

  1. Personality
    Broad strokes on this one – outgoing or introverted? Friendly or reserved?
  2. Values
    Traditional or contemporary? Religious or agnostic? Broad strokes again with this one.
  3. Lifestyle
    Active and sporty? Carefree and fun? Family oriented? Relaxed?
  4. Behaviour
    What things do they do frequently? Any occasions or events they attend regularly?
  5. Interests / Hobbies
    What do they do in their free time? Sports or leisure activities?

Product / Service based information

Here’s where we turn the spotlight on how your product or service will interact with you customer. What ways will they use it? How will it help them?

  1. When you came up with your idea or started your company who did you initially think it would help?
    Who were the people you immediately thought would be your customers?
  2. Does this audience currently buy either something similar to what you’re selling or this same product or service elsewhere?
    Is this a brand new thing or has there been ground broken in this industry? Are there any other marketing materials you can use to determine how your competitors target their market?
  3. How does your service or product help your market or what problem does it solve for them?
    By framing your service or product this way you can identify the benefits of your product.
  4. What will drive these people to buy from you? Is it an absolute need? Or is it a want?
    Being realistic about the difference can have a big impact for your marketing.
  5. How does your market get their information?
    Are they online only? Do they read magazines or newspapers? How about the radio?
  6. How do they like being contacted?
    Are they old school and prefer in person? Or do they cringe at face to face and prefer email?

Using the questions above you’ll get a better idea of who your target customer is – they’ll stop being this fuzzy, kinda impression of a figure with money and start coalescing into a solid person with a personality and clearer expectations.

Creating buyer personas

Though not entirely necessary, creating buyer personas has helped many companies get better results with their marketing and focusing their team on customer service for a specific type of customer.

Using the info you gleaned from your target market research you’ve already done – go ahead and make up a fictitious ideal customer. Call her Linda from the Goldbar Area or Mechanic Steve. Give them faces and give them names. Lay out their entire life as you know it – all of their specific details from the questions we asked above.

Once you have your buyer personas in place, base all of your marketing materials and customer service interactions around them. “How would Mechanic Steve feel about this?” should be a daily question asked in your company.

How do we know it’s working?

There are so many things you can track to make sure your efforts have paid off.

Having clear and concise goals is the most important part of measuring the results. You’ll need to set up and identify what you’re trying to track. Is it social media mentions? Is it forms filled out on the website? Traffic to the website in general? Sales from a specific ad you placed?

The second thing you’ll do is identify your baseline – or what those numbers look like now. For start ups this will be zero but for existing businesses you’ll need to determine what those stats were before you started.

Now set a specific timeline after your marketing efforts have changed in which you will go back and track results. Measuring day by day won’t be effective but measuring over a time period like a month or a quarter will give you a better sense of any trends and increase in results.

Now take over the world! Or at least this one corner of it.

With a specific target market defined, you’re actually going to be better at this whole marketing thing – when you don’t target everyone, you’re free to be more specific and effective.

Write your ad for Mechanic Steve and it’ll be fine if it doesn’t resonate with Granola Bill – because he isn’t your customer.