What’s a Target Market?

Also, What should it be? How would I know?

The elusive “target market” -- very important, but also very hard to define.  With this piece of the puzzle,  you become positioned to reach your potential customers.  As times, technology and you change -- so will your target market.  It is important to maintain an understanding of who it is as well as an understanding of its ability to change.

The right target market increases your chances of success because you can communicate better with a well-defined group, and that holds expenses down and makes results better.


Define your target market: Ask yourself why you chose this particular business, who your products/services are meant for, who you want to do business with, and what is unique about your product. This results in the key element -- your audience.
Verify that there are enough potential customers in your target group to support your business and that you are providing a service that is actually needed.
Create a customer profile which describes your customer as clearly as you can.

The Key Element: Your Audience

Why and How “Audience” Matters?

Attempting to create a content strategy without a clear understanding of your audience is a pretty much like driving cross country with no destination and no map. All you know what to do is “go somewhere” -- but how will you know when you’ve made it? You’ve put your content out there and you’re taking action.  However, without a clearly defined audience you’re not working toward a specific goal. These are the situations that marketers dread: huge amounts of time and money, without a clear potential for good ROI.  Let’s start with goals. It’s easy to think about goals in terms of SEO and content strategy in different ways.

  • “I want to rank at the top of Google for the my keywords
  • “I want to get 50 leads a month through via landing/leadpages
  • “I want to double my link profile 100% each month through guest blogging.”

Despite being relatively “SMART” these goals do not address the driving point behind content, a desire to reach people.  Not just any people, but the specific people whom your brand will resonate with and who will take action to buy, use, and promote your products and services. 

Beginning every campaign with a strong understanding of your audience is one of the best ways to ensure your success.

Step by Step Process

Understand the problems that you solve

The first step in defining the target market for your business is to have a clear understanding of the problems that you solve. This is known as your “solution set”. Once you know what these are, you can begin to look for who may need these solutions (aka who suffers from the problems you solve).  This describes the overall process and necessity of verifying that their is a true and clear customer base.

Once you define your solution set, ask yourself:

  • Who has the most trouble with this problem(s)?
  • Who will have the most to lose if this problem(s) are not dealt with?
  • Who could potentially have this problem(s) in the future?

Your job is to communicate to your audience that the cost of not dealing with the identified problem is greater than the cost of not dealing with them.  This information is your golden ticket.  As a general rule, customers do not want to think for themselves -- your priority is to tell them why they need you in the most compelling way possible.  

Cast a Narrow Net...

Once you have identified who needs your product/services. The next step is to focus, #NicheIn (shout out to @SacredRebel). For example, let's pretend you are running a clothing boutique. Of the following options, which is easiest to cater to?

  1. Female customers 40 to 75 years old, wealthy, much more concerned with healthy eating than cheap eating, appreciating seafood and poultry, liking a quiet atmosphere.
  2. Customers 15 to 30 years old, with limited budgets, who like a loud place with low prices and fast food.
  3. All women ages 15 to 75.
  4. Everybody.

As you can see, options 1 & 2 are the easiest.  There is far more information present from which you can build a marketing plan, than in the latter two options. 

This is the essence of target marketing: divide and conquer.

Learn Market Segmentation & Use it Creatively

...aka Demographics and Psycho-graphics

Now that we know what you do (the problem you solve), and who needs your help -- from here it’s all about segments -- the pieces that make up your total market.  In today’s  world apps allow us to read which news sources we wish, DVR let’s us watch only what we want (and when we want!).  It is easier now more than ever to create unique and personalized experiences in almost everything that we do.  This is why now, more than ever, it is important that you know your target market and how to reach them.

Start With The Easy Stuff: Demographics

Putting pen to paper and defining the more obvious characteristics of your audience is the best place to start. If you’re not familiar with these key characteristics of your target market, you’ll be lost in the long term. For an refrigerator repair business, your target customer might be a homeowner. This is a decent start, however, it wouldn’t tell a writer much about how to craft content your audience will appreciate.

To further define the demographics, ask yourself the following questions and think of the customers that currently drive most of your business today.

  1. How expensive is your product or service? Do your customers need to fall into a certain income class to afford you?
  2. Is your product or service specifically for men or women? If either, think about your typical customer. What is their typical age? Are they married? Do they have a family? Who makes the purchasing decisions?
  3. Where is your target customer physically located? Are they local to you? In the neighborhood or neighboring town? Do you have an online store and want to appeal to customers across the country? Do you have a storefront or do you travel to your customers to provide service?
  4. Is your product or service ethnically neutral? Does it appeal to people of a certain ethnicity?
These questions should at a minimum provide you with guidance as to the following: age, gender, location, income level, occupation, marital/family status, ethnicity and education level.


Now, What Makes Them Tick? Defining Psycho-graphics

Now that you’ve nailed down the basic information about your target market, it’s time to start thinking about who they are as people. This is the key step to crafting appropriate content for your social media marketing, blogging strategy, and even your traditional marketing efforts.

Many entrepreneurs can get lost in the idea of psycho-graphically defining their typical consumer. To guide this thought process, ask the following questions:

  1. What are your customers’ likes and dislikes and what does that tell you about them?
  2. What types of television shows do they watch? What magazines or website might they read?
  3. What are their values?
  4. What kind of lifestyle do they lead? How does your product or service fit into their lifestyle?

In answering these questions, consider your product or service as well. These next questions will help you better understand your target customer:

  1. What features appeal to your current customers the most?
  2. When do they use the product (or hire you for the service)?
  3. Do they use it in a certain way?

Use Strategic Segment Intersections

For example, if providing social media services, you may consider the following strategic segment intersections:

  1. Want outside help with their social media; and
  2. Value business social media; and
  3. Have budget to pay for the service.
The internet and social media are two of the best tools we have at delivering personalized products and services.  They both allow for businesses to communicate directly with consumers, exactly what they want to say.

Defining target markets makes your life easier. Give it your best shot, but remember to keep reviewing and refreshing as you go along.

This ability for specialized/personalized segmentation make the case that it is better to be a key player in a small group, than a small player in a big group.  A smaller more targeted market yields many benefits.  Most importantly, it will be easier to build a reputation and gain referrals. You will also find you get more bang for your buck when you stop trying to be all things for everybody.

So now, take this information and dig deeper - let’s start to segment it further.

Do you want to work:

  • with particular types of people - individuals with extra income, men, women, entrepreneurs, and so on?
  • in certain geographical locations - Where are you located, who is it easiest for you to reach/work with?

But don’t just stop there, any creative segmentation's can help you set a target market.  Do not just limit yourself to age, gender, and economic level. Consider groups like:

  • Home
  • Small business/Large Business
  • Corporations
  • Government (State, Local, Federal, Civilian)

Here is an example of how a company divided its market into psycho-graphic segmentation:

  • Kids and cul-de-sacs were affluent upscale suburban families, “a noisy medley of bikes, dogs, carpools, rock music and sports.”
  • Winner’s circle were wealthy suburban executives, “well-educated, mobile executives and professionals with teen-aged families. Big producers, prolific spenders, and global travelers.”
  • Gen X and babies were upper-middle income young white-collar suburbanites.
  • Country squires were wealthy elite ex-urbanites, “where the wealthy have escaped urban stress to live in rustic luxury. Affluence, big bucks in the boondocks.”


***Sidenote: Consider your own unique identity too. More than likely, your business reflects who you are and what you like to do, as well as what you do best.  Choosing to market to people you like is an advantage.*** 

Still Stumped….

2 Pro Tips For DIY Defining Your Target Market

  1. If you get stumped at any of the above steps, take a look at one of your competitors that performs well. If they are already doing any social media marketing, review their content and strategy to look for clues as to whom they believe their target customer really is.
  2. Write it all down. Once you’ve outlined your demo and psychographics, you might realize you have several target customers. Give each of them a name and persona. This will help you (or whomever helps with your creative) relate to them and craft effective content. 

For The Future…

Aspirational Customers: Not Today, Maybe Someday

If you’re looking to expand business (perhaps you’re more of a novice than a beginner), think about your “aspirational customers.” An aspirational customer is someone who may not buy your product or service today, but perhaps this is the kind of business you’d like to do more of.

Our original example of a refrigerator repair company may consider schools/universities and/or corporations as aspirational customers because they would like to do more commercial business, which is more lucrative than residential.

Perform the same two Q&A sessions above for your aspirational customer. Remember to keep this separate. You might not use this target market in your immediate marketing strategy, but defining it is the first step to achieving your goals!


That's all folks -- Go forth, Define your Target Market -- and PROSPER!