When you’re in marketing mode, who are you selling to?

If your answer is “anyone” or “everyone”, we encourage you to rethink that. When you cast your net that wide, you risk watering down your message. And when that happens, you won’t connect with anyone.

Which means your sales will suffer.

It can seem counterintuitive, but narrowing your focus can actually boost your sales numbers. That’s why it’s so important to know your target market.

In this article, we’ll explain what a target market is and how you can determine yours. We’ll also make some suggestions you can use right now to start making all your marketing efforts better.

What is a target market?

Your target market is the specific group of people you want to sell to. They’re the people your products and services are designed for. The people whose lives will be better if they do business with you.

And yes, they really are a specific, niche group of people.

They have a shared set of values, shared interests, and a shared commitment to solving the same problem. The problem your products and services address.

As a result, they’re the people most likely to buy from you.

Your target market is made of up the people whose lives will be better if they do business with you.

Why do you need to define your target market?

Like we mentioned above, when you try to sell to everyone, you risk selling to no one.

Generic marketing strategies are generally less efficient than highly targeted ones. And, in our experience, they tend to be more expensive. You’ll need to spend more money to reach more people… and your lack of focus could easily mean fewer conversions.

So, spend more for lesser results? Or home in on your target market, spend less, and sell more? 

When you define your target market, you get a clear picture of your ideal customer. You’ll know what their biggest problems and challenges are. You’ll also better understand why they should be buying from you.

You can then use that information to get the kind of results you’re looking for. The kind that improve your marketing ROI.

For example, knowing your target market…

  • Helps you create social media posts that capture attention and prompt action
  • Helps you create email campaigns that get right to the heart of your prospects’ pain points
  • Helps you design effective local marketing campaigns that get people through the door and into your business

Defining your target market is one of the key building blocks for a profitable business.

Knowing your target market does not mean you refuse to sell to anyone else. Your target market is just your primary focus.

How to identify your target market

Ready to define your target market? Follow these steps to get started.

Step 1: Understand the features and benefits of your products and services

Think about what you sell and consider the real-world benefits for your customers.

Here’s a practical way to get your brain around this. Write out a list of your products or services. Then, add two columns. Write key features in one column. In the second column, translate each feature into a benefit your customers experience.

For example, if your business is a restaurant, one feature might be a self-serve buffet. The benefit to the customer is that they can eat as soon as they walk through the door, without having to wait around for service.

Once you’ve finished this exercise, you’ll have a meaningful list of benefits your business provides.

Step 2: Define the problem you solve

With these benefits in mind, ask yourself: What’s the biggest problem you can solve for your customers?

The answer to this question might be obvious or it might take a little time to figure out. But, regardless of what you’re trying to sell, this answer is important—it drives everything else in your marketing strategy.

In the self-serve example from step one, one problem could be a lack of time—both to cook meals at home and to wait around for food to be served.

The more specific and detailed you can be, the more information you will have to go off later in the process. In addition to understanding what the problem is, you should consider how it impacts people.

How does the problem make them feel?

What’s the biggest problem you can solve for your customers?

Step 3: Analyze your current customer base

Take a look at your sales analytics. Who’s already buying from you?

You can also take a look at the data from your website. Who’s browsing? Who’s clicking links? Where are they entering and exiting your website?

Try to build a picture of the demographics already interested in your business. How old are they? Where do they live? How well-educated are they? How much money do they earn?

Step 4: Check out the competition

Who is your competition targeting?

The idea here isn’t to copy what they’re doing but to build a picture of the marketplace that will help drive your decisions.

Take a look at the types of people who interact with their content. It might be that your competitors have decided to target a broad customer-base, overlooking a profitable niche.

Gather as much information as you can, and use it to inform your decision.

Step 5: Put it all together

Once you’ve been through the process outlined above, you should have enough information to clearly define your target market.

Write down exactly who you’re targeting and why. (Your current customer base should definitely be a part of your target market.) Include a clear description of the problems they’re facing and how you can solve them.

“…stop advertising to yourself. You’re already sold. You’re not the target market.” – Seth Godin

Step 6: Evaluate

It’s important to remember this isn’t a one-time activity.

Instead, keep learning about your customers. Find out as much as you can about them, and use it to refine your target market.

Measuring progress is key to strategic growth. Take the time to evaluate the effectiveness of your target market and improve where necessary. And if your customer base shifts, your target should likely shift with it.

What you can do in the next 5 minutes

If you’re ready to get started right now, here are a few ways you can dive right in.

  • Write out the list described in Step 1 above.
  • Walk around your business and ask any available staff members who they think your target market is. Their insights might prove valuable.
  • Think about the brands that speak to you. You’re in their target market. Why? What appeals to you about those brands? How can you make your customers feel that way about you?
  • Spend some time visiting with your customers, just trying to get to know them. What themes do you pick up on? What do they have in common?

KEEP READING: Retail Marketing Ideas That Attract (and Retain) Customers

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