You might think you know who your target audience is, that you have a fair grasp on what your business provides them- but it’s one of the simplest mistakes that companies make. Having a too-wide demographic of your consumer leads to marketing towards a handful of potential clients and a lot of wasted energies on those uninterested. So how do you narrow down and then engage with your target market?
The More Details, the Better
You walk a fine line when you’re looking to pinpoint your ‘typical customer,’ between too general or too intimate. You need more information than ‘women mid-thirties that work’ and much less than ‘walks her dog at 5:30 a.m.’ You need to first take a look at your business’ service or product. Imagine who buys from you:
- What does your service or product offer, that others don’t or can’t?
- What do your services or products feature that are unique?
- Which products or services are least/most successful?
- Which characteristics do your existing customers have in common?
You can then start to flesh out a more tangible customer, adding to the general details (sex, age, location, work, family) the extra ‘psychographic’ information:
- Hobbies: gardening, music preferences, traveling
- Values: religious, activist, etc.
- Media Used: offline (newspapers, radio), online, social sites
Research and Data Collect
The Competition: Always check out your competition, but don’t feel compelled to ‘borrow’ their typical customer perceptions. No two companies are exactly alike, not to mention they might be missing their target audience.
Look at their marketing campaigns; try to find a niche they don’t cover. Read the latest articles and blogs that involve your market. How can it apply to you?
The Consumer Base: There are many ways to get information about the customer you want to attract. Using social media sites, such as Facebook, Google+ or YouTube can give you a lot of data. Subscribe to feeds on national or local newspapers, radio or city events. Ask existing customers for feedback. Conduct a survey. Find out what your customers want- or might want.
After comparisons within your market, re-evaluate your company, keeping the needs of your target audience in the forefront:
- Do your marketing objectives match the customers’ needs?
- Does your current customer base get value for money?
- Do you understand what drives your market today?
- Are you specialized enough, or too specialized, for the target audience you want to reach?
- Can you afford to broaden or narrow your marketing strategies?
- Which types of marketing will your target audience respond best to?
Act on Conclusions
Once you’ve defined your target audience, decide on your objectives. You can then focus on developing strategies and tactics to reach them successfully. Many businesses opt for an integrative marketing approach, which includes traditional and online methods.
Targeting Your Market
Location marketing is particularly useful for small businesses that want to reach more consumers in a specific area. Options might include:
- A focus on short term messages (i.e. a sale) with a mixture of fliers, emails or social sites like Twitter or Foursquare
- A focus on increasing your customer base through newspapers/radio (online and offline ads), interacting with social sites (Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) or using location names (city, neighborhood) to reach new clients
A combination is useful for any business’ marketing plan, but don’t forget to keep up-to-date on newer trends. Advertising is about change, and it’s especially true for national and international campaigns. An overview of the latest:
- A return to some types of traditional marketing, such as postcards and fliers, with a narrower target audience
- Multi-media campaigns that are smartphone and tablet-friendly
- The need for high-quality content on websites, to highlight credibility
- Engaging customers on social sites, in combination with video (Youtube)
- The emergence of ‘viral marketing’
The point of defining your target audience is basic: if you don’t know who your customers are, your marketing doesn’t reach anyone. Knowing your target market well is essential to creating an effective marketing strategy and growing- not stagnating- your business.