Do You Understand Your Target Market?

957450_33460069One of the first questions I ask any client that I begin work with is, “who do you think is your target market?” There are many times where this question has never been asked and therefore I’m met with a blank stare. If the answer comes back as “everyone,” then I know we have some work to do. You may have the most amazing product ever invented in humankind but I’m sorry, it’s not for everyone.

It’s always best to start with a definition, no matter how simple we may think a concept is. A target market is a group of customers towards which a business has decided to aim its marketing efforts and ultimately its products and or services.

A target market can be defined by a set of characteristics that the entire group has in common. These characteristics give insight into how we might expect the target market to behave under different circumstances or in reaction to different marketing messages.

I recommend starting with your very best customer, because that’s who we want to find more of. Think in terms of what customer you absolutely love working with? How would you define them? Who are they? Are they male or female? How educated are they? What age are they? How did they learn of your product or service? Do they live in a certain area? How was the buying process? If applicable, have they been a repeat buyer? The more specific you can be here, the better.

Given that you want to clone this kind of customer and find many more just like them, let’s explore more about what was behind their purchase. Ask the question: Why did you buy from my company? I actually like to ask this question in person, through a survey.

On a very fundamental level, people make a decision to purchase something in an effort to increase pleasure or reduce pain. However, the answers you receive to the question above, why did they buy from you, will fall into one of two categories. Either the rational behind their decision was due to the attributes (or features) of your product or service, or your product or service was in sync with their emotional motivation for buying.

Examples of Product Attributes:

  • Price – Your price was competitive or in line with perceived value
  • Quality – Your product or service meets minimum quality requirements
  • Features – Your product has the features that I require
  • Service – You have the capabilities to provide service after the sale
  • Past History – There is a track record of positive experiences from others
  • Popularity/Sexiness – Your product has that “thing”

Examples of Emotional Motivators

  • Trust – I have faith that your product or service will perform as marketed
  • Communication – The sales person answered my questions and explained things to my satisfaction
  • Relationships – Over a period of time I feel I know the human side of your company. I like working with you
  • Fear – I don’t want to make a mistake that will cost me money or my job
  • Confidence – This decision feels right
  • Impatience – I don’t really want to wait any longer or shop more
  • Need – I am strongly compelled to move forward with this purchase
  • Desire for acceptance – I want to be like the people that own this product

As you collect the answers to your survey, you can use these product attributes and emotional motivators to define the kind of marketing message that you communicate. If these resonated with your current best customers, then they will likely resonate with potential best customers.

Happy hunting and I would love to hear your comments.