Unless you’re Facebook and have a user base consisting of pretty much every living, breathing human being on Earth, you need to choose a target market. Honing in your probable customers saves you both money and time. Plus, it lets you concentrate your marketing efforts on those consumers who are most likely to shop with you. You must use a voice and tone that will resonate with them and develop products and services that best fit their needs.
But how do you find your target market? I’m here to help! Ask yourself these six questions to help you find your target customers.
Whose needs do we meet?
Regardless of what industry you’re in, you should be in the business of problem-solving. Your most likely customers will always be those people whose problems are solved by what you offer, so think carefully about what you are selling and then consider whose needs you best meet.
Imagine you’re a dog walker. Your target market will consist of people who share a common problem (e.g. They own a dog and aren’t always home when the dog needs to go out.) and other common characteristics like age (perhaps 25-55), enough disposable income to hire a dog walker and more. In general, the more someone’s need matches your product, the easier it will be to convince them to buy with you.
Are we analyzing current customers?
Take a close look at your current customers. What common traits do they share? Are they usually male or female? Do they share a certain age range, occupation or socioeconomic background? What types of customers tend to return to you time and time again?
Your most loyal customers can be a strong indicator of what to look for in your target market. Try to break them down into a few categories based on shared traits. This will give you a good idea of what to look for when seeking out new customers. If you’re just starting out and don’t have customers yet, no worries! Skip right ahead to step three and take a look at what others in your industry are up to.
What are our competitors doing?
To get further insight into your target market, examine your competitors and their customers. You may want to market to a similar group of people or try pitching yourself to a specific niche that your competitors are missing. If you can spot gaps in your competitors’ market, you are one step closer to identifying an untapped customer base. Once you understand what others in your field are up to, ask yourself if you can do the same thing for a different group of people. Or can you do the same thing for the same people, only better?
What sets us apart?
Armed with knowledge about the competition, you have insight into how to market yourself. Your marketing efforts should highlight your added value – placing center stage those qualities that set you apart from the other fish in the sea.
You want potential customers to feel that you and your business alone are equipped to help solve their problems. While you may not state it expliciting, you should be able to easily answer the question, “What makes you a little bit different?”
Let’s say as a dog walker you also take awesome photos of your customers’ pets during your leisurely strolls through the city streets. Highlight this fact in your advertisements! Post some of your best shots on Instagram or Facebook! Who doesn’t want to get a picture of their favorite friend in the middle of the workday? If you want to target a specific market segment that your competitors are missing, sites like Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest enable you to affordably advertise to specific markets, based on parameters such as age, gender, location and “likes.” You can then create customized ads for your audience that highlight your most compelling strengths.
What is our persona?
Companies large and small create personas to help them understand their target markets. A persona is an imaginary person representing a group of your customers who share characteristics such as demographic background, behaviors and purchasing decisions.
Go into as much detail as possible when creating a persona. Consider everything from where this fictitious person might have studied and their annual income to how much they spend on groceries each week and whether or not they travel abroad on a regular basis. Where do they live? How old are they? What interests do they have? Are they married? Where do they shop online? What websites do they frequent? What types of social media sites are they most likely to use? The clearer the persona is in your mind and the better you understand how they use the Internet, the easier it will be to track down the market segment that he or she represents.
Remember that not all of your typical customers need to fit into one persona. Instead, create personas for each unique segment of your market. Then, you can tailor your marketing approach to each of these different types of clientele.
Good personas can help you target new customers and create advertisements, products and services for their unique set of interests and habits. Personas also help you to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and better understand what they are looking for when they stop by your store or website.
Where do we spread the word?
Once you feel you’ve done a good job defining your target market, it’s time to start spreading the word about your product, focusing your marketing efforts on where these potential customers are hanging out. This might be while shopping, in a particular group on Facebook or tapping away on their iPhones while in line at Starbucks. Now that you have a clear sense of who your customers are and where they’re lurking (both in person and online, you should be able to find them easily.)
- Think about which social media sites your “personas” would be most likely to use. Create posts and targeted ads designed with those clients and their interests in mind.
- Use words, images and video that emphasize your added value over your competitors. Remember to highlight how your business can meet your customers’ needs and solve their particular problems.
- If you create print advertising, distribute it in places where your clients are likely to gather. As a dogwalker, for example, the pet store and dog park are great places to start.
- Use images of real clients (or people who look like them) in all of your ads and posts. Your potential customers should be able to relate to the people in your ads.