Marketing 101: Defining Your Target Market

How To Identify Your Customer’s Core Needs by Defining Your Target Market

Skee ball.

The name in itself may not mean much to you, but it is one of the most common arcade games ever.

The game’s objective is to collect as many points as possible by rolling a ball up an incline to get it to fall into a small hole.

The smaller the target hole, the higher the point value, and the more tickets you get.

My 10-year-old nephew had his birthday party at Peter Piper Pizza during the weekend, and I hadn’t played skee ball in I-don’t-even-remember-how-long, but guess who won the Spiderman plush.

This got me thinking about advertising and why you should narrow your target. Your ideal clients are out there, waiting for you to find them. The perfect customer will actually help you define what strategies and campaigns you could use to reach them.

Defining your target market makes  your marketing and advertising campaigns a lot more accurate. Just like in skee ball, honing in on a target will make your decision-making process much easier and more focused, and will help you make sure you’re making the best use of your time and budget.

Having a Great Product is Only the Beginning

You have put off sleep for quite some time, you’ve worked your socks off, and you have finally finished crafting that perfect product or service. But the work is not done yet — the next step is to introduce people to what you have to offer.

While it may be easy to just develop a general advertising campaign that tries to reach an audience as broad as possible, to market successfully, you can’t assume your customer is “everybody.” This is one of the most common mistakes in advertising.

Here are the issues with failing to defining your target market and trying to reach everyone instead:

  1. Reality check: There are some people out there who may never buy your product. Unless you’ve got vaults filled with money, your Defining Your Target Markettarget audience can’t be “everyone.” You’ll be wasting your money trying to reach those who simply are not interested.
  2. Targeting everyone is the fastest and most effective way to burn through your ad money. If you target everyone, you will spend a lot more money than you originally had thought. I’m willing to bet that 99.9% of all businesses don’t have the budget that would allow them to bleed this kind of money.
  3. Your message gets lost among thousands of generic ads. When your target market is “everyone,” the process of crafting a single message that pleases everyone becomes an extremely difficult task, simply because the ad isn’t personal enough and won’t have an echo with your market. Think of this as throwing darts while blindfolded: you might hit something, but chances are it will be the wall.

3 Steps to Identify your Market and its Needs

Luckily, burning money can be stopped with a simple solution — narrowing your target audience. When you narrow your market, and therefore your message, it gets more personal and resonates with those most likely to buy your product.

This is especially true with digital advertising — now there are no valid excuses for not focusing on your market. Online marketing has made it easier than ever before to target extremely specific groups of people. Google lets you target by location and what people are searching for; Facebook lets you target by people’s gender, age, preferences, likes, and much more.

Don’t worry — by the time you finish reading this post, you will know what steps to take, and in what direction, to better understand who your best target market is…

1. Identify yourself

Before trying to define your target market, define your target. First, you have to find yourself, meaning you should outline your business and your goals. Determine what needs and wants your product or service fulfills.

Understand the issues that you solve

The starting point of defining your audience is to understand the problems that your product or service solves. Make a table with the features of your product/service. Next to those, list the benefits they provide, and then the benefits of the benefits.

For example: a web developer offers high-quality web page creation; in turn, a well-crafted and polished website will attract more customers as they see a trustworthy and professional business; thus leading to a bigger customer base and an increased number of leads.

Now that all your features, uses, and benefits are listed, we can start defining your customer.

2. Identify your ideal customer

Who is most likely to use your product or need your services? Who will gain the most value from your offer? Start to paint a picture of your ideal customer by creating a list of all the different types of people who may suffer from the problems that you solve. There are three main ways to identify your customer:

Geographics: Where they are

Demographics: Who they are

Psychographics: What they like

Some questions you may want to ask yourself are:

  • Where does my client live?
  • Are they married?
  • Are they male or female?
  • How old are they?
  • Where do they shop?
  • Etc.

Use a funnel approach

Think of your market selection process as filtering through a funnel, wide at the top and narrow at the bottom.

1For example, the wide section of the funnel might be gender. Assuming your product or service is gender-specific, you can narrow your audience

Your second filter might be age. If you sell snowboards, marketing your product to people over the age of 60 might not give you the results you want.

You could filter further by income level. The college student buying a used Nissan is most likely in a different income bracket than the executive purchasing a Cadillac.

As you move through these filters, you will eventually arrive at a target market that is laser focused specifically for your product. Feel free to experiment with the order and combination of the filters. The final groups at which you arrive will make it easier to find that intersection where customers are between “interested” and “ready to buy.”

3. Identify your customer needs

Now that you have an idea of your perfect customer, you need to find the core needs that your customers want fulfilled. Your clients are looking for businesses that show an understanding of their needs. They are experts on their problems and you have to cater to these. So, are you listening to your market?

Here are a few keys to fully understand your customers and set a solid foundation with them:

  • Look through your customer’s eyes. Analyze your customer’s full range of wants and needs, as well as his or her suppliers. Keep in mind, you’re most likely not the only one in your industry. This exercise will also help you understand the behavior of your competitors and maybe even predict their next move.
  • Stand in your client’s shoes. By going through what your customers experience, you’ll discover your strengths and weaknesses and what a customer would like to change. Some businesses ask their employees to go through a customer’s experience by going into the store as an “undercover client.”
  • Identify your customer’s core needs. In this step you need to determine what would make your customer’s life easier. Open your mind to the idea that the use your product is intended for might not the only one.
  • Listen to what your market is saying. Take advantage of the feedback from your customers. If you see reviews, comments, or any opinion someone has about your product or service, read it and learn from it. People tend to talk about what they like and dislike. You may even see that your customers have found a new way to use your product. Take a clue from this to shape your campaigns.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll tell you how you can use what you just learned in this post to begin laying the foundation for creating the perfect ad.

Now it’s your turn — what challenge do you face in finding your target audience? Let us know in the comments section below.

8 Signal, your Marketing Department. Reach us at (915) 585-1919 or through our website. We’re here to help. We believe that you can outsmart, not outspend, the competition.

Photos courtesy of: Au Kirk, Mike Poresky, 24oranges.