Ask several businesses to define their target market and you’ll likely get a variety of answers. Some have a clear idea of who they are targeting their goods/services to, and some are completely unaware. Many businesses believe their target market is “everyone,” which is an impossible scenario. No business can target everyone. In fact, those that do are usually the ones that fail.
Defining your target market is crucial to the success of your company. Even the best ideas will falter if they don’t reach the right audience. Starting a business can be a whirlwind adventure. Often, new entrepreneurs dive in head first before dotting all the “I’s” and crossing all the proverbial “T’s.” One of the items that is most often forgotten is the target market. Don’t make that mistake; it is that important.
Defining your target market
The best thing you can do for your business in terms of target market is to develop a customer profile. This can be accomplished in several ways, including conducting informal interviews, talking to businesses that work with the same type of customer, or joining online discussion boards or groups. Once you have accumulated enough information, create a customer profile based on the following categories:
Start with the most basic information about your potential customer. How old are they? Where do they live? What is their level of education? What are their hobbies? Are they conservative or liberal? Are they introverted or extroverted? What do they do for fun? The more demographic information you can amass, the more accurate your profile will be.
Get to the core of your potential customer to find out what makes them tick. What do they most desire? What do they need? What are they afraid of? What frustrates them? What/who is important to them? What are their core values and beliefs? The most successful companies are those that are able to connect with their customers on a deeper level. Surface relationships don’t normally cut it.
At its core, business is all about money. Neglecting this part of your customer profile will leave holes that undermine your company’s success. Consider how much money your ideal customer makes. What are they most likely to spend their disposable income on? What external factors influence their financial decisions? What are their spending habits? How much are they willing to spend on goods/services like those that you provide? If you aren’t targeting the customers that can afford your products, your sales will be dismal.
Not all customers get their information the same way, but you may be able to determine patterns that can help you define your target market. Try to figure out how your potential customers get their information? What media do they digest? What social media platforms are they most likely to frequent? What gets their attention? If you can figure out where your customers are, you can more easily connect with them.
You can also think a bit broader in terms of your target market? Instead of looking at customers individually, determine what industries they are most likely to work in. Figure out where your potential customers purchased their goods/services in the past. Ask yourself where they network both on and offline. Determining where your customer is on an industry level and what businesses currently have their business can help you figure out how to entice them to cross the line into your business.
Everyone has problems. Determining what problems face your potential customers can help you market yourself as the solution. What keeps your target market up at night? What are some of the struggles facing the industry in which your target market works? In short, understanding the issues and/or stumbling blocks affecting your potential customers can help you figure out what you bring to the table? How are you going to help your customers? What solutions can you offer them?
Once you have created a customer profile, you can start to market your business appropriately. Blindly promoting your business without any real understanding of who you hope to attract is an exercise in futility. Spend the time to identify your ideal customer. Figure out why he/she should do business with you? Market yourself to that segment of the population. If others get caught in your advertising net, all the better.