Figuring out a target market for your budding business can sometimes be a daunting task.
After all, how can you create a customer profile for someone you’ve never met? Let alone someone who might not even exist?
Before we dive into the content, let’s talk about why you shouldn’t be trying to sell to “everyone.”
First, a fact: “everyone” does not exist.
Think about how many contrasting lifestyles, opinions, and beliefs people around the world have right now.
There’s no way that all of these people are going to band together in unity over love for your product. It just isn’t going to happen. Unless you’re a Slinky. Because everyone loves a Slinky!
But seriously, it is much smarter to identify your ideal buyer and design your product and promotions with that one person in mind. This method does not mean you will only sell to one person.
The act of defining a target market isn’t to create a wildly unique, completely unattainable human – it’s to define the most “typical” person who would be the best match for your business.
What is a target market?
Have you ever walked into a store and thought to yourself, “Whoa, this place seems like it was made for me”? Which stores or brand seem to have that power over you?
For me, it’s Chapters. Whenever I walk in the doors and am greeted by that familiar scent of new books, I feel like I belong.
Sadly, though, it’s not a coincidence that I feel this way. Chapters knows me. They know that I love to read. They know that I can’t resist day planners. It’s like they’ve read my mind.
And in a way, they have. You see, before Chapters even launched their collection of scented candles, vegan cookbooks, and Kate Spade day planners, they identified their target market.
You know, the ones who would be drawn to the visual display with a zombie-like mentality, slowly repeating the phrase, “Mmm. Planner. Gimme.”
That, my friend, is a target market.
If you didn’t like that analogy, here’s a more direct (boring) definition:
A target market is a specific group of consumers at which a company aims its products and services.
As your business evolves, you may find that you’ll target more than one group of consumers. But for now, let’s just focus on 1 target group.
How do you find your special group?
It’s not rocket science. By the way, remind me to tell you about that time I went for dinner with friends and literally everyone but me was a rocket scientist. One guy was even wearing a NASA shirt. Well, guess I just told you the story. I’ve gotta work on that.
Anyway… Finding your special group does not have to be difficult. You don’t have to canvas your neighbourhood with door-to-door surveys.
Two simple and effective methods for figuring out your target market (without surveying random people!)
• Make a profile for someone you know who fits the description.
• Make up your ideal customer. Seriously. But with realistic information and research.
If you choose to make a profile based on someone you know, why not interview the person and get really specific?
Questions you could ask:
• Basics (age, gender, marital status, income)
• Struggles and challenges in your niche
• Hobbies and interests
And if you’re feeling extra spicy, why not ask a couple questions to a whole whack of people you know?
Voila! You’ve just done a survey. Hah! Tricked you didn’t I?
If you choose to make up your ideal customer:
Still interview prospects for market research. But instead of basing your findings on a person you know personally, create a fake yet realistic person (also called a “buyer persona”). HubSpot has an excellent article on buyer personas, which you can read here.
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1 – Leave the creative writing for… creative writing.
Only include the facts that are important to your business. I repeat: this is not creative writing.
Don’t dream up a single white female who can read minds. Unless you’re in the psychic business – then by all means, go ahead.
• College student
• Chooses classes online
• Uses an iPhone
• Browses Pinterest during class
• Recently swiped right on Tinder for a guy she totally didn’t mean to swipe right for
• Looks like Jennifer Aniston circa 1999
• Owns a pet cat that she routinely forgets to feed
2 – Make this person average, typical, a statistic.
Sure, your ideal customer could very well be amish with no access to the Internet. But is that person likely to be your target? Not if you’re selling to digital nomads.
It’s easy to ask yourself, “what if?” As in, “But what if this person really is Amish?” Forget the outliers. Stick to typical.
And if you want to get more in-depth information about your target market?
Here’s where you can go canvassing for information.
Ideas to get you started:
• Create a survey and share it on social media.
• Conduct personal interviews.
• Gather a group of keeners to be beta testers for your product or service.
• Search Facebook Groups in your niche and make note of the struggles people are having.
Information you should be collecting through your research:
• Demographics (age, gender, job title, income level, location)
• Current challenges and/or struggles (ideally in relation to your niche)
• Goals and ambitions (also ideally in relation to your niche)
• Quotes (if applicable)