You can’t be everything to everyone—and neither can your products or services if you want to market successfully. Many small businesses try to market following the “throw-it–against-the-wall–and-see-what-sticks” model because they do not have the marketing expertise. They figure that defining their market as everyone everywhere will give them more exposure. Everyone can’t be included in your target market is because one specific message won’t resonate effectively with different demographic groups .Defining your real target market is one of the key elements to building and growing your brand. While this takes some effort, in the long run, it will pay off.
Defining Your “Real” Target Market
How do you start to identify your real target market? Well, first you should investigate who’s already buying your product or using your services. You want to find out where they are, who they are, why they buy and how they use your products. Then you need to find your most-likely-to-buy customers by checking out your competition. WHO has the greatest need for your product? That’s the question you need to answer to start defining your target market.
The Where, Who and Why of Your Customer Base
The easiest element to identify is where your customers are so you can limit or expand your geographic market. Do you want to sell locally, throughout the state, across the nation or across oceans? Just group the zip codes on your subscriber or mailing lists to get an idea of where your customers live. You can take this a step further by researching the zip codes online and get loads of general data about the kinds of people who live in those zip codes. For example, here’s just one link to information about the part of Manhattan, where “consider yourself BRANDED” (my studio) operates from.
Next, what do they have in common in terms of demographics? At the very least you want to learn how old they are, how much they earn, whether they’re mostly men or women, and how much education they have. The Google Analytics from your website is your source for plenty of demographic information. (Make sure to add Google Analytics to your website. It’s free and if you do not know how to link this feature then make sure you ask your website designer to set it up for you.) After it’s up and running you can login to your account and check the numbers and graphs. It will show you what your website visitors clicked to find you and how they interacted with your website. Most social media channels also provide demographic data in the administrative area. You can also get loads of usable information from U.S. Census Bureau data or from a local Small Business Services office. (If you’re really open to sharing information about your business, consider approaching a local business college and offering your company up as a market research class project!)
Then you want to delve into their psychographic profile. On the most basic level (and that’s where you want to start) find out what they’re interested in, how they live, why they bought from you and what they think about you. Again, Google Analytics gives you some information on the interests of your website visitors. You can also get answers by creating a simple survey on your website or your Facebook page or sending out a Survey Monkey survey (free to send to 100 people; only $26 to send to 1000) to your current customers on your mailing list (You do have a mailing list right?) Any number of responses will give you strong clues about why your customers chose you and what problems your product solves for them.You can even “sweeten the pot” for respondents by rewarding them with a special offer—and make your market research efforts do double duty by increasing your brand visibility.
Of course, you want to poll anyone in your organization who has online, mail or face-to-face contact with your customers including customer service, front desk and fulfillment personnel. Listen to the most common questions, complaints and comments they get from your customers. And regularly go online to all the review sites to read what your customers are saying about you. At the same time, you want to visit the websites and review sites for your competitors to see what they’re doing that you can top or what segments of the market they’re not serving so you can evaluate whether or not you want to target that market as well!
Not only will this low-cost, rudimentary market research give you better feedback than you’ve gotten from your friends and family, it will help you find out whether the assumptions you’ve made about your market are valid. Did anything surprise you? Impress you? Did you discover that your customers have needs you can meet better or are using what you offer in ways you hadn’t thought of?
Defining your real target market and getting to know those who are truly most likely to buy your products or use your services, is invaluable information when building your brand strategy, brand identity and brand marketing. It guarantees that you’re putting your brand in front of an audience that will care-and purchase!
If all this is just too much to add to your plate, then drop by “consider yourself BRANDED” to learn how we can provide all the key elements you will need to build and grow your brand!