Discovering Your Target Market

When I begin working with a new business, one of the first things I ask the owner is, “Who is your target market?” Unsurprisingly, the answer I usually get is, “Everyone”.

I can promise you that your product or service won’t appeal to everyone, so let’s start with the basics. Who is most likely to go for what you’re trying to sell? Is it…

  • Men or women or both?
  • Younger people, older people or both?
  • People in a certain area of the world, country, state, city or neighborhood?
  • People that earn a certain income?
  • People who are single or married? Have kids or don’t?
  • People who’ve completed a certain level of education?

Let me give you an example. Let’s say I am launching a make-up company that only uses ethically sourced, organic materials and contains no chemicals. My cheapest product is a lipstick, which retails for $18. Everything is American made.

From that basic information, I can segment my audience down using a few assumptions:

  • I sell makeup, so my target market will mainly be women
  • My price point is higher than average, so I can assume my target market will probably be women who are at least 30 years old and have a higher than average disposable income.
  • I believe that as women get older, they typically become quite loyal to the beauty products that they use. So I am going to assume that my target market probably tops out at about 45 years old.
  • My products are American-made so obviously, I am targeting the American market. But because one of my points of difference is organic and ethical, I will most likely find women who are interested in those kinds of products in larger cities with greater affluence and wider exposure to environmental and health issues.
  • My product is not specific to marital or family status, so I’m going to skip this one for now.
  • Again, because of my price point and my point of difference, I can assume my target market will be college educated.

So now we’ve gone from “Everyone”, to:

  • Women
  • Aged 30-45
  • From affluent neighborhoods in major cities
  • Who earn an above average income
  • Who are college educated
  • Who actively care about the environment and their own wellbeing

Now you give it a try.  If you get stuck on one question, ask yourself what type of customer you’d want to attract. For instance, in my example, I got stuck on marital and family status. But when I think about it, I know that moms are super busy, and buying organic lipstick is probably not right on the top of their to-do list. This is a wicked generalization, but for the sake of an example, I’m going to ask you to go with me on this one. So from here, I might then determine that I’m better suited to target people who don’t have children. I can make other determinations as well. For instance:

If I know my target customer cares about the environment and her own wellbeing, I can probably assume that she eats healthy, shops in upscale groceries stores, and exercises a few times a week. Also, since she likely lives in a big city and earns an above average income with a college degree, I might be able to deduce that she has a professional job, possibly in a management role, or that she owns her own business.

So now we’ve gone from “Everyone” to:

  • Women
  • Aged 30-45
  • From affluent neighborhoods in major cities
  • Who earn an above average income
  • Who are college educated
  •  Who actively care about the environment and their own wellbeing
  • Who don’t currently have children
  • Who eat healthy, shop in upscale groceries stores, and exercise a few times a week
  • Who have a professional job or own a successful business

Now we’re getting somewhere! Now that we know a bit more about our target market’s personal demographics, we can begin to think about how we might be able to find and attract her with our marketing efforts. So, as an example, I might think about:

  • Creating an ad on Instagram showcasing a woman with beautiful, natural makeup that specifically targets women who fit into my categories
  • Writing some articles about the long term effects of chemical-based makeup on LinkedIn, where I know I can find educated, professional women aged 30-45 who are following tags about beauty
  • Researching events in my target geographic locations where I might find my customers, such as farmers markets, yoga workshops or fitness events
  • Looking to partner with a bigger, more well known retail brand and offer mini makeovers in their store

You get the idea.

When you start a business, no matter what kind of business it is, you have to begin by defining who your customer is, how they live their lives and why your product or service suits them to a tee. Once you define that customer, you can begin creating a marketing plan to match. But we’ll leave that one for next time!

Stuck on where to start? We can help! Get in touch.