You’d be surprised how many business owners can’t answer that question. Determining your target market is one of the most essential parts of running any business. If you haven’t identified your target market, you can waste a lot of time and energy trying to attract and convert people who simply aren’t interested in you or your product.
Many businesses make the mistake of thinking that the products and services they offer are “good for everyone.” But the company that wants to be everything to everyone often ends up being a master of none. Narrowing your target also does not mean excluding everyone who doesn’t check all the boxes for your specific buyer personas. Rather, it allows you to focus your messaging, and your marketing dollars, on those who are most likely to buy from you. If someone outside of that target sees your messaging and decides to buy, well that’s just a bonus.
Here’s what you need to do to narrow down your target audience and start making money.
Analyze your product or service.
This might sound stupid but stick with us here. Review your solution with fresh eyes, specifically from the perspective of your potential customers. Take a good look at the features of your product or service. Write them all down – a good ol’ fashion mindmap will go a long way here – and then expand your map to include the benefits of each of those features.
Gratuitous example: The Department of Marketing offers search engine optimization services. A benefit of SEO is improved performance in search engine results pages. Now let’s take that benefit one step further. Improved rankings in organic search lead to increased brand awareness and trust. Increased brand awareness and trust make it more likely that a visitor will seek you out when they are ready to commit to a solution to whatever problem it was that they were researching in the first place. So, ultimately, SEO leads to sales.
From your map of features and benefits, expand the web one step further to include the people who could benefit most. While this is still too broad of a focus for your target audience, it gives you a place to start.
Look at your current customer base.
Once you’ve identified possible targets based on what your business offers, the next step is to narrow that list down. The best snapshot of your ideal customer is your existing customer base. All too often, businesses will target the “white whale” prospects they believe they will make the most money from, all the while ignoring the smaller fish that consistently convert and quietly make the company money. This pool of smaller fish is exactly where you’ll find the common characteristics, pain points, and interests that make up your niche market.
Pro tip: Take a gander at who your competitors are targeting. Where possible, don’t go after the exact same market. Instead, dig in to see how your strengths can lead to a niche your competitors are overlooking. After all, you already have a big old list of features, benefits, and potential targets to work from.
Conduct an informal market analysis.
This is where the real work begins. You need to understand the primary market environment in which you’re competing; this basic knowledge can help you further narrow your target audience.
You can start your research on the internet, but in order to be really effective, you need to talk to your market. Yes, that means actually picking up the phone or scheduling a meeting with former and existing customers, potential customers (where possible), and even other industry leaders and partners. If you don’t, you could end up falling into the trap that so many businesses do when determining which buyer personas to market to: focusing on the wrong information.
The point of all of this leg work is to better narrow down your target audience by interest, demographics, and common trends. In your analysis, be sure to answer these important questions:
- Who is your target audience?
It’s time to dig in a make the hard choices about where to focus your marketing and sales efforts. Remember, selecting a target audience does not mean that you’ll never sell to anyone else ever again. It just means that you’re making the choice to focus your time, energy, and marketing dollars are the segment of your audience that is most likely to convert. Once you know this you can answer more qualifying questions like:
- What is your target’s primary pain point, and how can you solve it?
- What do they currently think about your brand?
- How will you attract them to your products or services?
- Who else is competing for their loyalty and devotion?
- Are you targeting business or consumer sectors?
Create a description of your target audience.
This is also known as a buyer persona. Start simple by creating a list of demographic details. This includes information like:
- Job title and level of seniority
- Company size and revenue
Remember, the demographics that are important to your business are different than any other. Focus this information around the answers to the questions above to create the clearest profile of WHO your target market is.
More important than demographic information is psychographic information. Psychographic information is relevant when thinking about HOW to best market to this consumer base, particularly regarding what advertising vehicles work versus those that do not. Determining these descriptors can then help you formulate a profile of your ideal consumer. In compiling this persona, you want to fill out as many details as possible regarding who your consumer is: what they care about and what they dislike. The more thorough, the better as you can readily have this person in mind when crafting your marketing strategy toward that segment.
There are two types of psychographic information to consider.
Engagement Information (where you can reach them):
- What social media channels do they use?
- What blogs/newsletters do they subscribe to?
- What groups/forums do they belong to?
- Where do they go to find information or do research?
Decision Making Information (how you can help):
- What are their goals?
- What are their challenges/pain points?
- What barriers do they face in reaching their goals?
- What concerns/questions do they have about their problem?
- Where are they in the buyer’s journey? (Hint: We break the buyer’s journey down for you here.)
Segment the audience into groups.
Once you’ve done your due diligence and started creating your buyer personas, you will likely discover that you have more than one. That’s great news. Of course, in order to effectively target them, you’ll have to segment your customers into groups (i.e. create a persona for each segment).
Flesh out each persona by giving this person a name and backstory. The more you make the persona come alive, the more invested you become in this group, and the more you begin to understand the motivations and attitudes of this segment of your market. A specific persona will come in handy when crafting your marketing strategy toward this segment later on.
Narrowing down your target market is essential if you want your business to be successful. The more specific you can be about who your customers are, the more readily you can create effective marketing strategies and products that will appeal to them and avoid wasting time and money. If you need help narrowing down your target audience, contact the DofM for help.