As a business owner, developing your product is just one small part of the work. To truly be successful, you’ll need to share your offering with the world. Start by creating a website, and use it as the foundation of a robust marketing strategy.
But before you start marketing your services to everyone, take a moment to consider who the best audience is for your brand. While it’s tempting to shoot in as many directions as possible, think about this: Are you likely to hit a target if you aim in several different directions, or will you be more successful if you concentrate all your effort on the bullseye?
That’s where target marketing comes in. Precise targeting is key for converting leads into customers. The more relevant and specific your audience is, the more likely they’ll be interested in your brand.
Keep reading to learn more about this practice and to find expert tips on how to define your target market.
What is a target market?
Your target market, also called a target audience, is the specific group of people at which your product or service is aimed. In other words, they’re the primary audience of your marketing strategy.
A target audience can be composed of a broad group, such as women in the UK, or it can be quite narrow, such as urban, health-conscious, vegetarian women in Berkshire. The group you choose will depend on the particular consumer needs your product is addressing.
To pinpoint your target market, you’ll need to start by analysing data about your customers and competitors. Here’s how to do it:
How to determine your target market
1. Analyse your existing customers
2. Know your product’s benefits
3. Investigate your competitors
4. Segment your audience
5. Write a target market statement
6. Refine your research
01. Analyse your existing customers
The first step in defining your target market is to learn more about your existing customers. Even if you’ve just launched a business and don’t have many customers yet, these practices will come in handy further down the line.
Start by gathering information about current and past buyers, and try to identify any defining characteristics these customers have in common. This data will help you market your product to people with similar interests.
You can find this information using website analytics tools, as well as social media and email marketing analytics platforms. Some data points you’ll want to consider include:
Age: Do your customers share a common decade or generation? Are they millennials, older adults, or something in between?
Location: Where in the world do most of your customers live? Consider the different cities, countries, and regions.
Language: Which languages do your customers speak? Remember that your customers’language isn’t necessarily the dominant language of their country.
Spending power: Consider socioeconomic factors that may be affecting your customers. How much money are they willing or able to spend?
Hobbies and career: What do your customers enjoy doing? What are their professions, and what do they do in their spare time?
Stage of life: Where are your customers in life? Are they college students? New parents? Retirees?
If your company is B2B rather than B2C, you’ll want to look for characteristics of companies, rather than individual consumers. These traits include:
Business size: Are the businesses that buy from you small, medium, or large?
Location: Where are these businesses physically located?
Vertical: Which industries are most of these businesses in?
Budget: How have these businesses raised money? Consider how much they’d be willing or able to spend on products like yours.
Be sure to track this information in an orderly manner so that you can keep your findings organized and easily identify trends. Analysing these trends will allow you to identify shared characteristics within your customer base. These characteristics will inform your inbound marketing efforts and steer your strategy toward your target audience.
02. Know your product’s benefits
The next step in determining your target market is to understand the customer motivations behind purchasing your product. For this, you’ll need to see from your clients’ point of view. Think about what motivates them to buy from your company, rather than a competitor. You can learn this information by speaking to your customers directly and asking for testimonials.
Get to know the benefits - and not just the features - of your product or service. The features are your product’s characteristics. For example, if your business sells suitcases, you might describe your product as being small, compact, and having multiple compartments. Your product’s benefits, on the other hand, are the advantages it brings to your customers. Think about how your product makes someone’s life better or easier. The compact, multi-compartment suitcase offers the benefits of being easy to carry and pack as a carry-on.
Learning about the specific needs your product is fulfilling helps point you toward your target audience. For the suitcase company discussed above, for instance, the target market would be people who benefit from a lightweight, carry-on suitcase - such as business travelers who take short, frequent trips.
03. Investigate your competitors
Hone in on your target market even further by taking a look at which target markets your competitors are aiming at. You won’t, of course, have access to their customer analytics data. However, you can understand who these customers might be by doing a SWOT analysis of your competitors.
Take a deep dive into their websites, blogs, and social channels. Consider who their target market is based on their website content, content marketing strategy, and social media branding. You’ll likely be able to infer details about their audience based on their brand language and tone. You can also check for comments on their social media pages to see which types of people are engaging with their posts.
Take an especially close look at their most successful social media and blog posts. Do these pieces of content have anything in common in terms of their offering or branding? Which interests or needs do they address? Use this information to consider what kinds of qualities or advantages appeal most to consumers within your industry.
04. Segment your audience
At this point, you’ve gathered some information about the characteristics and interests of your target audience. Now, it’s time to use that information to clearly define your customer types. These customer types are going to form the basis of your target market.
The best way to do this is through a process known as market segmentation. This involves dividing your customers into different groups, or segments, based on their shared qualities.
You can divide your customers based on:
Geography: Physical location, whether it’s your own city or a different part of the world. Note that if your customers are located around the world, you may need to create a multilingual website, as well as localized ads and marketing materials.
Demographics: Characteristics such as age, gender, race or ethnicity, income level, or marital status.
Psychographics: Inner qualities such as personality, lifestyle, or personal values. These are often a product of geographic and demographic factors such as location, generation, or stage of life.
Behavior: Perceived qualities based on online behavior, such as buyer readiness or frequency of use.
If you’re a B2B company, use similar characteristics but apply them to business. Consider firm demographics - known as firmographics - such as industry, location, customer size, business structure, and performance.
To gain a deeper understanding of your segments, you can also create buyer personas. Also called user personas, buyer personas are imaginary characters with traits and behaviors similar to those of typical customers. Ultimately, these fictional characters represent your target audience, helping you gain insights into the needs, desires, and lifestyles of your actual customers.
05. Write a target market statement
Now that you’ve determined the defining features of your target audience, it’s time to put your findings on paper. Write a target market statement that focuses on the most important audience characteristics you’ve identified in your research. Your statement should include:
Demographic information about your target market, such as gender and age
Geographic location of your target market
Key interests of your target market
Then, sum it up in a single sentence. For example:
“Our target market is women in their 30s and 40s who live in the United States and enjoy casual, comfortable fashion.”
Having a clear statement about who your target audience is will help keep your branding and marketing efforts consistent across your company. It will also come in useful as you adapt your company’s mission statement to be as relevant as possible for your audience.
06. Refine your research
Defining your target market is based on thorough research, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be perfect the first time around. Even after you identify your target audience, you’ll still need to continually test and experiment to get an increasingly precise picture of your customers. Staying on top of your market research can also help you keep up with the times, as consumer interests change over the years with technological developments, generational attitudes, and passing trends.
To narrow in on your target audience, you’ll need to A/B test your targeting efforts. Develop a social media marketing strategy and take note of your engagement and clicks.
Based on the results, you might need to either adjust your marketing strategy or revise your target market statement. The bottom line is to build a brand that resonates strongly with your audience. Remember, the more targeted your content, the more effective your lead generation strategies - and the more customers you’ll bring to your brand.