Casting a wide net with your business’s marketing efforts can have its benefits, but it also runs the risk of diluting your brand. Sure, you may be reaching a large number of people with boosted social media ads or local radio promotions, but are those people likely to buy your product or service? Can they benefit from what your business has to offer? Are they truly in your target market?

A target market is a group of people most likely to give you their business. Otherwise put, this audience is your compass to guide all of your marketing strategies. When your marketing team can pinpoint and understand your buyers’ motivations, you can create marketing materials that effectively solve their problems and exceed expectations. In addition, knowing your target market shines light on multiple areas of opportunity, as well as groups - or verticals - with the most potential for growth. By defining your target market and using the information to inform your marketing and advertising activities, you’ll be able to pinpoint the exact spots where your business can fill empty holes in your industry, differentiating your company from the crowd.

How To Define Your Target Market

Begin with an analysis of your business’s products or services. Create a list of features, the benefits those features provide, and the buyers most likely to give you their business for those benefits. For example, if your business sells in-house label printers, benefits might include time savings and cost savings from skirting commercial printing services, and ease-of-communication with staff about organization through quick and easy labelling.

Next, think about who would be willing to offer your business their money for this type of benefit. Would a warehouse operator pay for your product? Perhaps. Would a lawn maintenance service pay for your product? Probably not. Create a document that targets the individual most likely to buy your products and/or services.

You can also make a list of your current client base, and pick out common traits among your customers. What are their collective needs? See if you can divide your client base into groups or verticals. Then, identify which segments bring you the most revenue, and determine which segments have potential for growth. Lastly, look at your competition. Who are they targeting, and which benefits are they touting? While you may not want to target the exact same niche they are (especially if the audience is very small, or already saturated with marketing messaging by others in your industry) there may be other related micro-groups you can target, too.

Choosing Your Verticals

Once you have an idea of who might benefit from your products or services, you’ll want to analyze a number of important factors:

  • Are there enough people in your target audience to support your business?
  • Can they afford your product or service?
  • What are their other spending priorities? What is more important to them to buy than your product? What is less important?
  • Is this segment already swamped with competitors?

Essentially, you’ll want to determine who you can serve profitably. There may be plenty of uses for your product or service, but determining who will actually choose to spend their money on it over something else, is going to help guide your outreach and marketing budget.

If you already have sales information on your target markets, be sure to analyze those numbers, too. Measure and evaluate your verticals to decide where the most opportunities lie, and observe purchasing patterns within groups. For example, perhaps your business has a lot of success selling equipment to restaurants, but most of those clients choose items on sale, or only have excess funds for spending during peak business seasons. Can your business thrive on marketing to those clients alone?

Profile Your Ideal Client with Buyer Personas

Now that you have a grasp on which markets to target, you’ll want to understand what drives their purchasing decisions. Create a list of the demographics and psychographics (personality traits and characteristics) of your target audience. Where do they live? How old are they? What do they value?

Consider creating three to four buyer personas within your goal audience, and then determine how your product or service fits in with these individuals’ lifestyles? Be sure to include age, gender, income, education, marital status, values, and behaviors. The more specific you can be, the better. Here is one possible example of a buyer persona:

A married male, in his mid-forties, who works in HR management, and has college-level education. He has two teenage kids, and his wife is a registered nurse at the local hospital. Their immediate financial goal is saving money for their kids’ college educations, since they are both graduates and believe in the power of education. He makes employee program decisions for his workplace, including wellness incentives and conflict resolution services. He prefers to communicate via email so he has a written trail of communication he can refer back to.

From this persona overview, you can make predictions about purchase behaviors based on your personas’ values (education), workplace purchasing role (employee program packages), and technology familiarity (comfortable with using computers and email). This outline will provide you with a heightened understanding of how likely it is that your product or services meets their motivations or needs.

Lastly, map your personas’ journey through the customer buying cycle. What are the steps they take from learning about your product to completing a transaction? Does it seem reasonable? Where might you need to make adjustments? Where might they feel most comfortable and least comfortable? Identify possible pain points during the buying process, and determine if there’s an alternative way of encouraging your target market to follow through with their purchases. To learn more about client profiles, read: Is Your Brand Attracting the Right Audience?

Strategies for Target Marketing

Next, you’ll determine your target marketing strategy. Will you focus on multi-segmented marketing, or concentrated niche marketing?

Using a multi-segmented marketing strategy, your team identifies the top handful of target markets in which you see opportunities for growth. This strategy may involve several different marketing campaigns tailored to the different groups, and A/B testing to see which marketing efforts receive the most engagement from customer groups. The main benefit of using this type of strategy is the ability to pivot toward profitable markets, and drop efforts toward those that are not as responsive. A niche marketing strategy, on the other hand, focuses all your efforts on one concentrated group of buyers. By targeting a small, specific, well-defined market, a business can take the role of “big fish in a small pond,” and focus their resources on understanding the needs of one group, and attracting those buyers’ attention.

How to Target Your Ideal Customer

Finally, choose how you’ll reach your target market. By understanding your buyer personas’ purchasing behaviors and media usage, you’ll have an audience profile that will help you determine where your efforts are best spent.

For instance, if your target market includes early-twenties young professionals, social media campaigns may be a great way to engage and grab their attention on their territory. If your audience includes retired males, on the other hand, consider trade magazines or periodicals that your target market frequents.

Study which avenues or publications your audiences frequent and trust. Is it Google? Evaluate and develop an SEO strategy. Is it a local radio program? Create a targeted 30-second ad to be aired during the program hour.

This is also a great time to analyze your current marketing channels. Is your target market accessible through your current platforms? Where have you found successes? Where have you heard crickets? By performing an audit of your current marketing strategies, you’ll find resources that can be pivoted toward your new targeted marketing campaigns, and work them into your master annual marketing plan.

By getting clear on your business’s target market, you’ll be able to create close, meaningful relationships with your audience through the channels they trust. Understanding goes both ways in marketing - in order for your audience to grasp your product’s unique values, you must first understand your audience’s distinct wants, needs and behaviors, and how they want to (consciously or unconsciously) interact with your business.

Do you need help defining your target audience and creating marketing materials that reach them? Give us a call at 847-352-4345