I have too often heard sales people and business owners say that their target market is “everyone.” No matter how useful, ubiquitous, inexpensive, or absolutely necessary a product or service is, “everyone” is never any company’s target market. In fact, if you’re trying to get referrals from people, one of the worst things you can say is that “everyone” is your target market. It makes people tune; after all, why should they go to the effort of referring business to you if you should have no problem getting business from “everyone” else.
A well-defined primary target market is the lynch pin of a successful marketing campaign. It focuses the time, energy and resources you put into the plan to maximize the results. Without a pre-identified target market, how do you put together a marketing campaign that will cause people to complete your call to action? How do you reach the people that you need to connect with? You will generally spend more money interacting with people who are not interested in what you are offering and then have to spend more time, energy and resources trying to rectify a “bad” campaign.
There are two types of target markets: 1) One that is based on the established patterns of your best customers. 2) One that is based on a new audience you are trying to break into, but have not yet succeeded in converting into customers.
The best way to identify the first type is to take a look at the top 20% of you customers based on revenues (or some other criteria that is important to your business) and determine what they have in common. It could be demographic identifiers, psychographic trends, a referral source, or some combination of all three. Once you have determined the commonalities that your top 20% share, you’ve identified your ideal target market. You may find that you also have a well-defined secondary and perhaps even a tertiary target market. You may be able to market to all three with similar, or slightly differentiated methods; or you may need radically different approaches to all.
If you’ve identified an audience for your product or service that you haven’t been able to break into successfully, you once again need to identify what they have in common. The commonalities is what will enable you to design a campaign that will resonate with the majority of them. The more defined you make that target market, the better your success will be. If, for instance, you’ve determined that you have a product that’s great for college students, what else should they have in common for your offering to pique their interest – gender, dorm vs. apartment vs. living at home, major, etc….? (Of course, you need to also be realistic about whether this is a truly viable market for you or just wishful thinking.)
In any type of target market identification exercise, the more commonalities you find, the easier time you will have finding those prospects and connecting with them.