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To Market Successfully, Your Customer Can't Be 'Everyone' (Op-Ed)

Business News Daily Editor
Business News Daily Editor

Who should you really be marketing to?

  • All businesses need a targeted marketing strategy to succeed.
  • Understanding your customer is only the first step.
  • You must define your niche and target those specific customers. 

Every business needs a marketing strategy. At its core, marketing is about promoting your business. It is what and how you talk about your products and services to get people to buy them.

No, your target market is not "everyone"

Think about the sneaker business. It's a pretty wide market. Practically everyone needs a pair, right? But the most successful sneaker companies know better; they focus on very specific targets.

Take a look at Nike's website. It's all about fitness, sports and winning. Converse, on the other hand, is about making a personal identity statement. Converse's Google ad says, "Shoes are Boring. Sneakers are Iconic." Who would have thought they'd make Chuck Taylor All Stars with a studded collar? Even if nearly everyone needs sneakers, these companies help us know exactly which sneaker fits our personal needs, whether we are super competitive or ultrafashionable.

What is a target market?

One of the keys to learning how to target your customers is to determine who they are. Figure out your niche; you cannot be everything to everyone. When you determine your target market, you can employ strategies to attract their attention and convert them to customers.

You can also 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. Each social media platform captures its own analytics, so use that information to your advantage.

Also use data to learn about and target your customers based on characteristics such as location, language and interests. 

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 you can.

Also, make sure your business has its own values, and stick to those ideals. Be clear about the value that your company and products can provide to your customers. Whatever you claim, make sure you adhere to it.

Target a very specific market

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.

"The more you can define not only the demographics – like age, gender and household income – but also the type of person (psychographics), including attitudes, tendencies and preferences, the more you can directly speak to your audience," branding expert Todd Friedman wrote. "Owning a specific market's mind share is the key."

Who is your "ideal" customer?

Here are two methods for identifying your target market.

  1. Create a fictional buyer. In the past 10 years, it has been trendy to create "buyer personas." A buyer persona is a character who represents your target customer or client. Creating a fictional person named Suzie or Sammy, for example, with specific wants, needs and desires makes it easier to design marketing campaigns that these ideal customers will respond to. They're typically created using a great deal of research and data about current customers. Some companies find this process valuable. But it costs time and money, which you may not have.

  2. Think about your best clients, most profitable customers or most reliable donors.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Who has bought before and returned to buy again?
  • Which clients have been the most profitable or referred their friends?
  • Which donors have given when you really needed them to and brought others to the table?

Now, look at these people and figure out who they are, so you can find more customers like them.

  • Are they male or female? How old are they? Are they married or single?
  • How educated are they? What do they do for a living?
  • What's their outlook on life? Are they optimistic? Realistic?
  • Where do they get their news? What do they do for fun? What do they care about?
  • Why do they do business with you? How would they describe your company?
Business News Daily Editor
Business News Daily Editor,
Business News Daily Writer
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