Target Market: How to Define It & How to Reach It

One of the most important things you can do as a business owner is focus on your target market. Here are a few tips on how to best do that. 

Why Does It Matter?

With every branding effort you put forth, you should be asking yourself, “Will this help me connect with my target market?” Often times when I work with clients, we get to a fork in the road with the visual process. It usually sounds like this, “I am drawn to this style. Can we make it look more like this or should we try out something else?” Or, “I like these two different styles, how do I choose a style for my business?” This is the point where I always turn the conversation to determining how you want to be perceived by potential clients. The answer to this question is one of the best ways to identify your target market. These are a few reasons why this is so important for your success:

-       It will keep you on track. By asking this question every time you sponsor a post or share an article, you will already be approaching your marketing effort from a strategic standpoint.
-       It will keep you from wasting your efforts. If the answer to whether this will help you reach your target market is no, then you'll know not to move forward with the marketing effort because it will fall short of reaching who you want.
-       It will maximize your impact. If everything you post has the forethought of being geared toward the people you want to reach, the likelihood of you reaching them is much, much greater.


How to Define Your Target Market

Now that we’ve covered why you should focus your efforts, let’s work on how to identify your target market. At the start of each new project, I ask clients to define their target market. A surprising amount of the time, the answer is something like, “Anyone. Everyone really.” To that, I would respond - if you market to everyone, you are marketing to no one. Which means, it is time to get more specific. Try these guidelines when answering this question.

-       Instead of imagining an audience, imagine one person. Imagine them as a friend, family member, or colleague, someone you know and can identify easily. Think of the one person you want to work with or sell your product to. That person is your ideal client. They are who you want to work with and your marketing efforts should always be centered around the ideal customer you have created.

-       Maybe one person is too specific for you. It is a good starting point, but maybe you have several product lines that target different people. Regardless of the way you are imagining your “ideal client” when you are defining this aspect of your company, you should always lean toward being more specific than less. At a minimum consider the following:

o   Age
o   Gender
o   Occupation
o   Marital & Family Status
o   Race
o   Income
o   Lifestyle (Interests, Hobbies, Opinions, Activities)
o   Geographic location

Using the above categories as an example, let’s paint a picture of two different target markets.
1)   An active twenty-four-year-old, single, Caucasian female, personal fitness trainer making $35,000 a year in Atlanta, Georgia.
2)   A forty-seven-year-old, male Asian lawyer in Grand Rapids, Michigan with an annual salary of $95,000 and is married with three kids between the ages of 10-22.

You could fill in the above blanks with any specifications in order to identify your target market, but by placing two profiles side by side doesn't it become evident how differently you would develop a message for these two individuals? The beautiful thing about being a business owner, about having a valuable service or product to offer, is that you have the power to determine who you want to reach. Leading me to my next question…


How do you reach your target market?

This is where all the elements come into play from last week’s Marketing 101 post. The voice, visuals, experience, and personality you portray will all work together to help you reach your target audience.

Who else has seen “Wolf of Wall Street”? In the last scene, Leonardo DiCaprio is teaching a sales seminar where he hands an attendee a pen and says, “Sell me this pen.” The same way he was taught sales. A pen is a pretty run of the mill item as far as products go. But let’s take a step back, accept this challenge, and think about how to sell a pen to one of the two people we have listed above.  

To our Girl in Atlanta – A personal trainer will be making notes and personalizing schedules for each client she trains with. With every client, she'll determine a daily regime of exercise, nutrition, and goals. In order to stay organized, a multi-colored pen set would be helpful. You can imagine the graphics here being bright, colorful, and vibrant. The implication would be to cater to an active life seeking organization. On the flip side…

To our Dad in Grand Rapids – I’m really showing my enthusiasm for movies in this post, but here’s hoping a lot of you will understand my metaphors. There was a time when pens were gifted and symbolized status and achievement. There is a scene in “A Beautiful Mind” showing a very accomplished professor being gifted pens by his colleagues as a sign of respect and authority. I can tell you now, marketing a pen to a successful and sought after lawyer through this lens would be more successful than the message you shared with our trainer in Atlanta. You would highlight the features of the pen as being professional, sleek, and most importantly of a high quality.

The main take away here is to be sure to always put yourself in your target market’s shoes. The only way you can effectively do this is by going through the necessary steps to not only identify them but also understand them. What do they care about? What are their lives like? Without understanding your audience, you won’t be able to effectively reach them.