Every business needs a marketing strategy. At its core, marketing is about promoting your business; it is how you talk about your products and services to get people to buy them. And to talk about your products in a manner that results in sales, you must first determine who, exactly, you are talking to. A good marketing strategy can’t address everyone; rather, you must identify a specific niche and speak to these people directly.
A target market is a specific segment of customers that you believe want or need your product and service. Identifying the people who constitute your target market, analyzing their behaviors and preferences, and then deploying tailor-made marketing messages on the channels where they are active are the keys to driving sales.
Think about the sneaker business, for example. It’s a pretty wide market. Practically everyone needs a pair of sneakers, right? But the most successful sneaker companies know better; they focus on very specific targets.
For example, Nike’s website is all about fitness, sports and winning. Converse’s branding, on the other hand, is about style and making a personal identity statement. Even if nearly everyone needs sneakers, these companies help us know exactly which sneaker fits our personal needs, whether we are super-competitive or ultra-fashionable.
No matter what product you sell or what service you deliver, more targeted marketing gives you a better return. Targeting a specific audience gets you in front of potential customers more often, with messages that touch them emotionally. If you try to be everything to everyone, your message becomes vague and less impactful.
But how can you know who is in your target market? And what if your customers aren’t who you thought they were?
Demographic data is invaluable to the process of refining your target market. It is important to identify the demographics of your target market, such as age, gender, marital status, education and household income. This data can be gleaned from numerous sources, including social media analytics, online forms users fill out and your CRM software that salespeople and marketing team members update after each point of contact.
In addition to knowing the demographics of your target audience, you should use psychographics to identify your target audience’s attitudes, beliefs, preferences and behaviors to help you address potential customers more effectively.
Once you have identified your target market, formulate a marketing plan. If this seems daunting, start by following the three C’s of effective marketing, which outline the basic components of every good marketing strategy.
One of the keys to learning how to target your customers is determining who they are. Figure out your niche; you cannot be everything to everyone. Once you have determined your target market, you can employ strategies to attract these people’s attention and convert them to customers.
You can use social media and other marketing channels more effectively when you know which outlets attract your specific customer base. Use research and analytics to determine this information. Each social media platform captures its own analytics, so use that information to your advantage. You can also use this data to learn about and target your customers based on characteristics such as location, language and interests.
Different platforms require distinct marketing approaches. Be sure your strategy is tailored to the platform you are using, such as Instagram, Facebook or email.
It is important to know your competition; find out what your competitors are doing and what they are offering. You may be able to offer something better. If you can, find out as much about their customers as possible.
Also, make sure your business has its own values, and stick to those ideals. Be clear about the value your company and products can provide to your customers. Whatever you claim, make sure you adhere to it.
Here are two methods for identifying your target market:
Creating a customer journey map can help you understand not only who your customers are but how they become aware of and engage with your brand. This exercise can provide valuable insight that will assist you in identifying your target customers.
Ask yourself the following:
Now, figure out who these people are so you can find more customers like them. For example, consider the following questions:
Jocelyn Pollock and Janet Kyle Altman contributed to the writing and research in this article.