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Back to Basics: What Is a Target Market?

Published on July 25, 2017

A crucial element for the success of your business is knowing how to figure out your target market. In today’s marketplace, targeted marketing is not merely useful — it’s a requirement. A scattershot approach to marketing is too inefficient. You will waste time and money marketing to people who have no interest in your product. And while you’re doing that, your competitors will scoop up your audience, leaving you scrambling to keep up.

Fortunately, once you understand who your target market is and how to find your target market, there are tools available to you that can make your targeted marketing much easier and more efficient.

How to Find a Target Market vs. How to Find a Target Audience

The first thing you need to understand is the distinction between a target market and a target audience. Both will be important, but your general approach will be to figure out how to identify your target market first, then drill down to your target audience.

The goals of your marketing plan define your target market. A target market is the overall audience you are trying to reach or sell your product to. On the other hand, a target audience is a narrower segmentation of the target market. The target audience demographics are the people you are trying to reach during particular campaigns. Your marketing efforts and messaging are customized to your target audience to lead them to covert.

Visualize your target market as a large circle and within that circle are smaller circles, which are your target audiences. The target market is thinking big picture while the target audiences are the smaller picture ideas and groups. For example, a frozen pizza company may establish their target market as people who want to buy frozen pizza at an affordable price. The pizza company knows that the main people buying their product are those looking for something that they can make quickly without spending a lot of money. After setting their target market, they may identify a few target audiences for specific campaigns. Moms of young athletes may be looking for quick options to make between practices and homework, while college students will buy the frozen pizza for the lower prices. Each of these target audiences respond to different messaging techniques.

By identifying your target market and developing strategies on how to market those consumers, you will have an easier time identifying your target audience.

How to Find a Target Market for Your Business

You cannot say that your target market is “everyone” or “anyone who will buy my services.” That kind of approach might work for Microsoft, but it probably won’t work for you. Even defining your target market as “millennials” or “renters” or “parents” is too general. You don’t have to drill down into the exact persona of your target market consumer — that will come in the target audience phase — but you do have to narrow down your target to segments you can reasonably reach with your marketing plan.

Remember that when you identify your target market, you are not excluding people who don’t fit your market parameters — you’re merely gearing your marketing plan and efforts towards the segment of the population most likely to convert to sales for your goods or services. This approach should bring in many more sales that you might otherwise miss than it will miss sales that you might otherwise gain.

So, now that you understand what a target market is, how do you generate a target market for your business?

1. Look at Your Marketing Plan

Keep in mind that your marketing goals define your target market. Examine everything you know about your product and everything your research suggests with respect to who this product is likely to appeal to. This should provide a good base for generating your target market.

2. Look at Your Existing Customers

People who have bought products from you before will probably buy products from you again. Look at your existing customer base and see if you can identify common characteristics through website analysis servers like Google Analytics, especially among high-volume buyers. If you are a small retail business, ask yourself who are the common groups of people that buy your product. Is your contact center noticing a trend among callers? Understanding your current customers will help your future marketing efforts.

3. Look at Your Competition

Do you have a competitor who sells a similar product? Who do they seem to be marketing to? Do their efforts seem to be having success? You will have to ask yourself: If their target market is so big and they’re they having such great success with it, should you pursue the same market, or do they have that market cornered? Does it make more sense for you to pursue a niche market they’re missing so you can dominate it?

4. Know Your Product

Make sure you know everything about your product and what it does. Ask yourself objectively, “Who is this product likely to help the most?” and “What type of people are typically most attracted to the features this product offers?”

5. Consider Your Target Audience

You may have many target audiences within one target market. For example, you may be targeting people within a specific industry, but who hold different roles and duties within their organization. The same messages likely will not work for every audience in a market. You

6. Analyze Data

Look at all the data possible about your product or related products you’ve sold in the past to inform the creation of your target market. Retailers can track the in-store purchase data to see what products sold and when. If your company uses surveys, you can track common answers in feedback surveys or see what type of questions investors are frequently asking. Companies that complete their sales online can access many kinds of data and track even more information about their buyers. Not only can they view what they purchased and for how much, but they can also view what other pages the buyer visited on the site, if they watched any videos, and any other actions the company deems valuable. Technology like DMPs can help you gather this online information about your audience.

If you do not have a good data management program, now is the time to get one. You can get a demo of Lotame, the leading independent data management platform, right now to see how managing your data can help you generate and sell to your target market.

7. Assess Your Results

Once you’ve put together a target market, evaluate once again if that market aligns with your business objectives, and if the market is likely to or able to buy your product or service. Ask yourself questions like, “Do enough people fit into this target market?” and “Can my target market afford my product?” and “Is my target market truly representative of who will buy my product, as opposed to, for example, who I want to buy my product?” and finally: “Is my target market accessible?”

Remember — the target market is a tool for you, so you will benefit the most by being completely honest when assessing it. Once you’re confident you have identified one or more accurate target markets, you can move to the next phase of your marketing strategy by identifying target audience members within that market. Don’t forget you can always reevaluate and restructure your concept of the target market and target audience based on new data as you acquire it.