Much has been said and written about choosing your "target market" or "target audience" or "customer avatar" or whatever they're calling it now. The point is that it is extremely important to have a detailed idea of who exactly it is that your business is intending to sell to.
Not only does it allow you to better tailor your products and services to your customers, but narrowing your target market also provides you with critical clarity as to what to prioritize.
The main 2 ways to look at your target audience is through 1) demographics, and 2) psycho-graphics. Demographics are visible, concrete details like location and income, while psychographics are traits which aren't easy to see up-front, such as opinions, values, attitudes, and preferences.
If you don’t consciously choose your dream client, one day you will wake up working with people who exhaust you and wishing you could fire yourself.
Remember you can't force the market to share your interests or to buy what you want them to buy. You can/must tap into what people already want and buy, and then sell them more of that.
Step 1: Do research to find out which types of people already buy products like yours.
Step 2: Develop a detailed example "target customer" including gender, age, and more.
Step 3: Develop your marketing and campaigns around that gender + age dynamic.
If you don't have a product yet, you can literally create/choose your ideal customer and build a product around their desires, problems, and needs. If you are start committed to certain industry, then you will have less freedom to create your business than if you start with an ideal customer.
The more you know your customers, the better, so here are 10 ways to find out who they are:
10) It's NOT "Everyone"
Many new businesses get stuck on the fact that they cannot market their product to everyone. They can't see why "everyday" commodities such as soft drinks or cigarettes need a target market.
Without an "ideal customer" in mind, you are left aimless and guessing when during product development and choosing which features and whistles to add. While you will usually want to use your ideal customer in your marketing materials, this doesn't always have to be the case.
Your Target is Not Always Your Market
For example, there was a time when Pepsi was getting creamed by Coca-Cola sales, much more than today. What did Pepsi do? They branded themselves as the drink of the youth (market).
Do you think Pepsi only wanted the youth market? Of course not, it's a small market, and they tend to have less disposable money. However, by positioning themselves as a youthful brand, they were able to SAY they targeted and represented youth, while they really "sold youth" to everyone.
Same story with Marlboro cigarettes. Do you think cowboys are really their target market? You'd think so from their ads. Or are they actually selling "rugged independence" to the masses?
Short story: You CANNOT market to everyone. Especially when you are new/small. Find out who buys your product and develop a target persona that would appeal to them. Then expand.
The target is not the market. The apparent target of your marketing is not the same as the people who will actually buy your product.
Al Ries & Jack Trout
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
9) Age and Gender
The most basic ways to segment your audience are with the main two demographics: gender and age. Some people like to get politically correct here, but it is just a fact that whatever you are selling, more of one gender and more of a certain age range are likely/going to buy and consume it.
Testing and analytics will reveal who really buys your stuff, and it often isn't who you think it is. Once you find out that a certain gender, or age range, or whatever is much more likely to buy your product, then you can focus your precious and valuable marketing dollars much more efficiently.
Consider your product as well. If you sell products "for men" but they are easily giftable, then they may mainly sell to whoever is buying men gifts (think pajama pants or the shaver box sets).
8) Hobbies, Interests, and Politics
They're probably different than yours
Needless to say, age and gender are NOT the only customer traits you should look at. In addition to identifying those traits, you can/should also identify your market's hobbies, interests, and/or politics.
It is important to understand that your customer may have very different views and interests than your own. That's ok. The hard part is truly understanding someone different than yourself.
So if you're selling sports video games, find out what other hobbies video game players tend to have. What do they do in their off-time? On vacation? With their friends? With their family? Is it the video games they like or is it the story lines? Or maybe the community, or the strategy.
Politics may be less involved for this example, but they are still important. Remember that when it comes to politics, no one has any idea what they're talking about, including you and I. Once you accept that, find out the common ideas, and reflect them back to make sales.
7) Goals, Values, and Heroes
Find out who they look up to
Remember that regardless of what you are selling, you are not selling your product, you are selling the result. For example, you don't sell shovels, you sell holes in the ground. So to better learn what your customer wants, learn what their goals and values are, and who their heroes are.
An easy example of this is how Nike sells their basketball (or any) shoes. They look at who buys them (non-basketball playing youth), then identify their heroes and values (Lebron James and glorified winning), and then they market and sell those things, with the shoes as a vehicle.
Show how your product will make your customer more like their hero. As for values and goals, show others who accomplished the same and how your product helped them achieve it. You can even explain how those are your own very values and goals as well, if you can.
6) Media and Advice Consumption
The format you choose to deliver your content on can have this huge impact on your success, even with the same content. To the best format for your business is the one that your target audience prefers.
This may be the next step altogether but it is very important to do your research and find out where your target customers get their advice, and how they consume their media. This means finding out who they listen to and how (on which devices / channels / apps).
Regardless of your product or message, be careful not to spend all your marketing dollars on Facebook when all your customers are on Snapchat. So find out which shows, channels, streaming services, devices, websites, apps, and more that your target market uses daily.
Then reach them there. As for they advice part, you'll have to learn if your market responds better to a storied pitch like in a YouTube ad, or to colorful images, like on Instagram. Or other. This goes back to the hero. Find out your customer's heroes, then communicate how they do.
5) Occupation, Industries, and Income
People have all types of jobs that you could never predict by looking at them in plain clothes. However, it is your job to try and find out anyways. And you will have more than clothes to judge from, you will have the world of internet research at your disposal.
The most obvious reason to do this is to learn your customer's income and spending budget. For example, you will only want to market designer watches to those with disposable income.
Aside from income, it benefits you to know if most of your customers have part-time jobs, as opposed to stable salaries with predictable bonuses and 401Ks. You also want to differentiate between a 9-5 employee who makes $50K/year and an entrepreneur who make the same.
You should also learn about their industries as a whole as the more information you have about your customer's life, the more you can tailor your message and product to them.
4) Fears, Problems and Pain Points
Don't be afraid to discover your customer's fears
I assume you already have this information if you already have a product. However, if you're creating a product or don't have one, it is critical to learn your customers fears and pain points.
Entire businesses can be built from just the knowledge of what your customer's pain points are. By learning these details, you learn which pain points to agitate, how much to agitate them, which fears to distance your results from, and which problems you ultimately seek to solve.
Position yourself as also having those problems or fears, or having had them in the past before your product fixed all that. By learning what your prospect's problems are
When a presentation lands a direct hit on an audience’s interests, beliefs, doubts, fears, hopes, ambitions, pre-existing ideas, and self-talk, its acceptance and enthusiasm for you skyrockets and expands, and it is nearly impossible for you to fail.
No BS: Presentations and Webinars
3) Relationship and Family Status
Single? Married? Hungry for tacos?
Something you've probably also already considered is your customer's relationship status. For example, if you're selling cooking and house ware, married couples are probably your market.
Probably more single people if you're selling pizza, though. Health, wealth, and relationships are the "big 3" eternal markets, so you'll have an entire large section to cater to.
While general and youth marriage numbers are definitely going down, co-habitation is going way up so don't discount the youth as a bunch of single slobs.
The next thing to consider is if your target market has kids, or is divorced, or both. Every one of these markets has totally different buying patterns and should be tailored to.
2) Location and Language
Don't be married to the English-speaking American market
If you sell physical products, then you've probably already considered your customer's location since you are limited by your location and/or shipping range. However, if you are selling digital products such as e-Books or online courses, then you'll have to do much more research.
For the sake of this post, I am going to focus on digital and globally-shippable products. If your market is exclusively the USA, then find out which states and cities are especially receptive to your message and find out why. Weather, nightlife, and a coast all change the lifestyle of a city.
Of course, the next step is to expand globally and perform the same research, and more. How similar and different are the other English-speaking markets? You will also want to consider countries where English isn't the main language, but is widely spoken, like in Sweden and Finland.
This all assumes that your target language is English, but the same rules apply for any other.
Formal education is becoming more and less valuable every day. On one hand, formal education is practically designed for the job market. On the other hand, the world is now moving at too fast a pace for education to keep up with, and less and less people want to be employees.
This is why it is important to consider your target market's level of education, and attitude about it. For example, if you sell resume-improving products, then you can guess that things such as school, accreditation, stability, theories, validation (diplomas), and such are important to them.
However if you are selling online business software, then your target market is generally entrepreneurs which generally value reading, experimentation, location independence, working their own schedule, and potential for growth. These are very different values and goals.
Also, depending on your target age, there can be any combination of the above 2 attitudes.
Targeting your audience to as small a group as possible allows you to offer content that is valuable to that group so you can build a strong relationship and increase your chances of brand conversion.
No BS: Social Media Marketing
This post contains affiliate links.