When you sell to everyone, you’re selling to no-one – here’s how to find your target market
You know the saying ‘different strokes for different folks’? It means that everyone has their own outlook, taste and way of doing things. When it comes to your business, remember that what you do and the way you do it will appeal to some more than others. To help you narrow down your target market, we’ve outlined the steps involved in working out which folks you should be targeting.
Ideal customer. Niche. Target market. There are many of ways of saying that your business shouldn’t aim to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Because when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no-one.
This is especially important in today’s marketplace. Social media and email marketing have created more opportunities than ever before to personalise the way you communicate with your customers. If you don’t stand out, people will scroll right on by.
When you have a clearly defined audience, however, you can speak directly to their personality, needs and frustrations.
Let’s take a plumber who has decided to specialise in property maintenance for real estate agents versus one that does any kind of work that pops up.
The plumber who specialises in real estate work can create brand messaging around all the concerns property managers are likely to have, such as accessing rental properties around tenant schedules, emergency repairs and creating upfront estimates for property owners to approve.
This plumber can also get really specific with their website SEO to appear in the searches of property managers looking for a plumber. They can also make strategic decisions around social media by using LinkedIn in favour of Facebook to target property managers. And when taking their marketing offline, they can head to property conferences and seminars to make targeted connections, and partner with other tradesmen who have the same specialisation.
Compare this with the plumber who decides they will take on any residential or commercial work. Making decisions about what to say on their website, search keywords to target, social media marketing and networking becomes far more overwhelming, because there is a need to show up everywhere and please everyone.
So how do you define your target market?
It is really common to experience some anxiety around this exercise, because it feels as though you are saying no to opportunities and income.
While that is true to an extent, you can see in the example above that the generic plumber will have to spend a lot more time, money and energy trying to get customers calling up in the long term.
The other thing to remember is this quote by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
If you do one thing and you do it well, people will remember that. Then when they’re talking to friends and family, it’s the first thing that will come up in conversation.
Here are some other examples of niche marketing in action:
- The accountants who specialise in ecommerce
- The cafe that is family-friendly with easy parking, toys and free babychinos
- The beauty salon that only uses natural products
- The corner shop that sources international groceries you can’t get at major supermarkets
- The inner-city chiropractor who offers lunchtime and after-hours appointments for nearby office professionals
Can you start to see how your niche informs what people think of you? Can you imagine two mums deciding where to meet for coffee saying – “Let’s go to the cafe that has lots of parking and toys; that will be easy, and we can actually have a proper conversation while the kids play.”
These examples demonstrate how to niche down without being so specific that you isolate too many people, to the point where your business isn’t viable.
To work out what your target market looks like, ask these questions:
1. Where are you located?
Where your office, shop or premises is located will have an impact on your market.
Take the family-friendly cafe – targeting mums would not be as effective if the cafe was located in the city where parking is limited, and properties are smaller, limiting the amount of play space available. In that scenario, the cafe would be better off working out what’s important to the office workers who walk past every day.
Think about the average income of people in your area, if there are any similar competitors nearby and how you can make yourself stand out in that location.
Don’t have a physical location? That can be a selling point too!
2. Do your customers have any common traits?
Depending on your business, your customers will have common demographics. For example, a beauty salon is far more likely to attract women than men, and a luxury furniture store will attract people with a high level of disposable income. Demographics to think about include gender, age, income, occupation and education.
Think about other interests your customers share as well. In the case of the furniture store, the customers are also likely to have an interest in interior design and architecture, as well as other luxury items for the home. Doing this exercise helps you to see where you sit in the market.
3. What kind of personality does your business have?
The final step is to brainstorm words that come to mind when you think of your brand. These are things like…
When you have this list, you can start to see your values emerge, and form an idea of the kinds of people who would want to use your product or service.
Match these with customer insights you have mapped out to get a really clear snapshot of who your customers are and where your business aligns with them.
4. Do you have any data to draw on?
If you’ve been in business for a little while, look back at what kind of customers have been the most loyal to you and reflect on the projects you most enjoyed. You can look at sales and marketing data, website analytics (this gives you a wealth of demographics information) and speak with any sales or customer service team members you have.
If you are just starting out, you won’t have your own data, but there are ways to get information. See if you can make connections with like-minded but non-competing businesses to get some of their insights and explore opportunities for collaboration (for example, if you’re opening a clothing store, speak with nearby cafes that have a similar target market to you).
You can also study the market to see if there are any holes you can fill and look at case studies of like-minded businesses and what worked for them.
Remember that businesses evolve and change, so this is not a fixed thing. As your business grows, you may introduce new products and services, move locations and adapt to the changing lifestyle preferences of your customers. For this reason, we recommend reviewing your market each year.
A project we are working on at the moment is a direct result of this process (it’s still under wraps so we can’t share more yet). The company was growing, so they’ve created a side business to better target a specific audience that doesn’t align neatly with their existing brand.
Okay. That was a lot, so let’s recap…
- Having a well-defined audience will help you to market your business
- Niche marketing will present opportunities for you to collaborate with like-minded brands
- Knowing who your customers are allows you to be more targeted with your advertising, saving you money
- Your target market may change as your business grows, and that’s perfectly normal
- Use your research to work out how your offering aligns with the needs and interest of your target market
Defining your audience is a key step in our branding process. At the start of the project, we sit down with you to discuss your audience and why your brand matters to them. These discussions are a chance to brainstorm, validate your ideas and get a clear picture of how all this relates to your brand.