I was on the phone the other day with a prospect. I asked him who his target market is and he told me, “Every church in town.” When I told him that, although in theory “every church in town” could probably use his services, the truth is that somewhere in that vast number of churches, there is a sweet spot where demographics and location are aligned to give him the best response to his marketing. Unfortunately, that idea did not seem to be even a remote consideration in his mind. Based on this, and various other threads in our conversation, I told him that I did not believe we were a good fit to work together and gave him another direction to consider for assistance in growing his business.
So why is “every” not a valid concept for defining your target market? Well, there are a number of reasons, even if, in theory “every” is a possibility.
- No one company has the resources to respond to the needs of “every” should they all come knocking at your door. You need to better define who you do want making inquiries so that you can respond in a timely manner and fulfill their needs.
- Not every single one of those “every” has the resources for your goods or services. Defining who does as part of your target identification helps ensure that you are not marketing to those “everys” who may not have the money, space, personnel, time or other necessary resource(s) to make it worthwhile spending the money with you.
- Some of those “everys” are too new or too set in their ways to bother with you.
- Some of those “everys” will never do business with you because you are the wrong age/gender/religion/ political affiliation/race/location/hair color/any other silly or superstitious thing they can think of.
And the list goes on.
Let's take a concrete example of one ubiquitous "every." Every human being needs water (or some form of liquid) to survive - our bodies require hydration even more than nutrition. Given that, a bottled water company could say, "Everyone needs our products and is our target market." Well, maybe, in theory. But, what about...?
- Bottled water is more expensive than tap water. Not everyone can afford it.
- There is a large group of people that won't buy bottled water because they believe that it's environmentally unfriendly due to the processing and plastic involved.
- Some people have already invested in a water filtration system, so they don't need the added expense of your bottled water.
- Will everyone like the taste of your water? The shape of the bottle? The image on the label? These are all reasons some people will choose not to buy your water.
By painting a picture of who buys bottled water and enumerating the reasons they buy it, you'll be able to build a target market profile and maybe even decide where to sell it to maximize marketing costs and profitability.
Now, admittedly, it would be impossible to build a target market based on some of the more ephemeral or silly personal reasons in the criteria listed above, but they all serve to prove the point that “every” is never someone’s target market - no matter the product or service or how necessary it may be to sustaining life.