Business owners often believe (mistakenly) that they are selling to everybody and that their product or service has universal appeal. But it is important to be able to identify a target market: to identify who these people are and to better understand their online habits so you can tailor your marketing efforts to them. One challenge business owners need to address is how to attract potential customers and give them the right information they are looking for at exactly the right time. If you want to increase the number of interactions you have with your customers then you need to understand how your customer thinks. Ask yourself these questions: Who are you selling to? Why should they buy the product or service from you rather than from your competitors? What do your potential customers gain?
1. Understand the problem – then position your product as the solution
To begin to define who your target market is you need to first identify the ‘problem’ they have come online to solve so that you can better position your product or service as the ‘solution’ to that problem. On a piece of paper draw up two columns. In one column write a list of the problems your potential customers are facing. Then consider how you will address those problems. Are your potential customers looking for lots of choices or a clear recommendation? Do they have a limited budget or is the price not the primary concern? Are they looking for a ‘tried and true’ product or are they trying to identify the latest trends? Your answers will help you to better position your marketing materials and deliver better responses to customer enquiries.
2. Think of your customers as a group of individuals, not a faceless crowd
The clearer the picture you have of the person who wants, needs, enjoys and buys your product or service the better you will be able to talk to them and get your marketing message across in a way that will benefit the both of you. So, who is your potential customer?
- Financial status?
- Do they live in a particular neighbourhood?
- Married or single?
- Pet owners?
- Are they in a specific market sector e.g. recruitment agents? educators? manufacturers? tradesmen? etc
Try to segment them into as many different groupings as is necessary. Not every personality quirk or demographic profile will be relevant to your business, but try to figure out which ones will matter most and focus on finding those people and marketing to them. You are unlikely to figure it all out in your first attempt but your marketing dollar will be better spent if you have a clear group or groups in mind to start with than if you cast your net too wide.
3. Many people aren’t looking for what you are offering!
Unfortunately, it’s simply not true that ‘anyone and everyone’ will want what you have to offer. You need to understand who has the most to gain from the value in what you have to offer. Here’s an example to demonstrate my point: if you are a lawyer who specialises in property management you wouldn’t really want to be wasting precious time (and marketing budget) fielding enquiries from people looking for a divorce lawyer. As a property management lawyer, your potential customers are more likely to be real estate investors, real estate agents, local city councils etc.
Ask yourself which of your potential market are more likely to be experiencing the problems that you intend to solve. When you better understand the fears, frustrations and pain points of this more targeted group then you will be better able to write effective blog articles around those exact questions and prepare more targeted marketing campaigns. Demonstrate to your potential customers that the cost to them of not having their problems resolved is greater than the cost of your proposed solution, thereby making your solution compelling. Offer your customer your support and follow-up and let them know you’re there to help.
4. Think about your target market list
The internet can be a very effective tool for offering up personalised, individualised products and services to your target market – so armed with your list of potential customers, refine and segment your market further. For example:
- specific types of people: men, women, professional, self-employed, retired
- from a specific geographic location: your town, a few cities away, the whole region, a certain community/neighbourhood
- in a specific industry group: manufacturing, farming, trades people, agriculture
5. Look at your business inside out
One way you can decide who to target and who to market to is to analyse your business and what you offer. If you have a specific area of expertise do you have a lot of experience working with that group of people already? Perhaps you already have some unique knowledge of a specific geographical area? Is there a specific group of people who you feel as though you have more rapport with? Are there people within your existing networks that could use your services or who could put you directly in touch with someone within their own networks. Sometimes you’ll hear these potential customers referred to as the ‘low hanging fruit’ i.e. those who are most easy for you to access. Consider making this group part of your target market.
It is a costly and practically impossible exercise to try to market to ‘anyone and everyone’ but by defining and clearly picturing your target market your online efforts will have a much greater likelihood of success. Your advertising efforts will be more meaningful and attract the people you want as customers – the people who remind you why you enjoy doing what you are doing.