One of the biggest challenges that small business owners face is ensuring that they are talking to their target market. With limited marketing funds, it is essential that you talk to the right people – your potential customers. It may sound obvious, but there are many business owners who give little consideration to who will buy their products or services before they begin their marketing. How can you successfully market and grow a business without this information? Follow these 3 simple steps to help you identity and reach your real target market.
Step 1: Identify your target market
The first step you need to take is to define your target market. Having a clear profile of your target customers will help you weed out the ‘maybes’ and ‘nevers’, and ensure that your marketing activities are targeted and cost-effective.
Take some time to note down the following about your target audience:
- Demographics: Who are they? What is their age, gender, profession, income and so on.
- Psychographics: How do they think? What are their interests, values/attitudes, likes/dislikes and so on.
- Behavioural: What do they do? How do they consume media? Is it online or offline? What sites or publications?
It is worth taking an extra step and thinking about what your bullseye target market looks like. To do this, write a short statement which describes your perfect customer.
Step 2: Reach your target market
You now need to give consideration to how you are going to reach your target audience. Having spent time on profiling your target market, you should find this step of the process much easier. To maximise your marketing investment, you need to fish where the fish are! Some simple examples – if your target audience are 25-35 year old busy professionals, think about social media and online platforms as these are mediums that this demographic actively engage with.
Alternatively, if your products or services are aimed at 55-65 year olds who are largely retired, you may want to opt for print publications you know to be read by this demographic. Whether online or offline remember to ask advertising sales executives for a breakdown of the demographic profile of their readers. This information will help you to make decisions about allocating your marketing funds effectively. Note also that no matter the target audience, you need to ensure that your content not only reaches them, but also engages with them (‘how to write engaging content’ is a topic for another day!).
Step 3: Identify your type of customer
With each marketing outreach you undertake, remember to also think about the type of customers you are trying to connect with. Are they existing, new, lapsed or repertoire customers (repertoire customers are those who are not loyal to one brand, but who may be influenced by things such as promotional offers). This will impact on the messaging and tone that you adopt for your marketing communications.
Know your target market and your business will grow
A new client of mine recently came to me for advice on how to identify their target market. As a relatively new start-up business they were keen to nail this upfront in order to help them quickly build a sustainable business. We went through the steps outlined above and worked together to build a profile of their target audience. With some additional consultancy work, they now have the confidence to explore or reject potential advertising opportunities that come their way and were kind enough to give the following feedback:
“Paula has taught us how to effectively pin point our target customer. So now instead of just waiting and hoping customers will come to us, or searching them out in all the wrong places, we now know where and how to attract their interest. She has saved us a small fortune by getting us to advertise in the right places, which are often free, rather than placing expensive ads in publications which are too general to reach our potential customers directly. Our business is now starting to grow past the start-up stage, and we know that as it grows we will often return to Paula for invaluable advice that will keep us looking for new ways to improve and reach an even larger market”.
Gillian Ussher, Perpetual Portraits
Start identifying your own target market
With limited time and money, small business owners cannot afford to take a shot in the dark approach to marketing. Dedicating time to clarifying your target market will help you be more focused, more effective in your marketing activities and ultimately achieve a better return on your investment.