Reaching potential customers has never been simpler than it is today, yet I’ve noticed that it’s becoming increasingly common for entrepreneurs to try to appeal to anyone and everyone they can reach. Defining your target market is an integral part of creating an effective marketing plan with an ideal ROI. This is also an essential step in writing your business plan. Are you ignoring this part of your business plan or are you without a business plan altogether?
I can see why it might seem like a shame to ignore the massive global market available via social media, but focusing on your best prospects is much better than wasting valuable business resources on people who, frankly, are just never going to respond -- or worse, who will end up consuming your time and energy without ever converting.
By trying to appeal to too wide an audience and not focusing on a slimmer demographic, you risk becoming too generic and not appealing to anyone. Yet, you’ll have spent valuable time and money on a plethora of marketing tools and techniques that get you nowhere fast. Identifying your target market now can save you a ton of energy (and cash – you like cash, right?) in the long run.
Another potential unwanted side-effect of not focusing your efforts on “the chosen few” is that your message will inadvertently become confusing for customers. If I learned anything in my sales career, it’s that confused customers never buy.
Bill designs and sells Kanye-esque jackets online and, realistically, his target market will likely be made up of young American males, aged 17-24, with active, sociable lifestyles. But Bill has never put a great deal of thought into this and wants to ensure that his products are in the view of every single person who might -- maybe, possibly, on the outside chance, but probably not -- want to buy them. After all, there’s always the chance that a grandmother might want to buy a jacket for her grandson, right? Or that a middle-aged businessman might suddenly change his style? Mid-life crises are a thing, after all. Yes, it could happen, but…
The problem Bill is now facing is that he is constantly trying to avoid alienating anyone – and in the process, alienates everyone. He doesn’t want to focus on social media over newspaper advertising for fear of missing out on other buyers. He doesn’t want to post ‘Americanisms’ in case a British audience doesn’t understand it. Instead, he’s watering down the channel and language that will help potential buyers to identify with him and almost ignoring the group of people who are most likely to buy into his brand.
"Sorry, honey, but we are just not really into Kanye fashions," said Grandma.
FULFILL A NEED OR DESIRE
Remember, you developed your business to meet a need, whether commonplace or niche. Marketing resources spent targeting those without that need are, to put it bluntly, utterly wasted! Your target market will determine everything from where you advertise, your web design, social media discussion topics, the language you use, and more. As a business owner, you want to offer your customers what they want or need, in every way that speaks to them in terms with which they can identify.
But consider this: How can you possibly have the slightest understanding about what they really want if you don’t even know -- really know -- who they are?
Defining your target market means you can ensure your visibility and their understanding. This knowledge allows you to go where they go, focusing your marketing efforts entirely on them. By studying their wants and needs, where those wants and needs come from, and how you can fulfill them, you can make your marketing work for them – and, essentially, for you.
WE ARE INDIVIDUALS
Once you’ve both identified and researched your target market, you’ll be able to focus your energies in the right direction. Think about different brands, products, and services…
...When companies treat you like you a person instead of a number (or dollar sign), talk to you about topics important to you, provide services and products that are relevant to your lifestyle, and make them financially accessible, how does that make you feel about them and their offerings? Conversely, what do you think about a company that spouts irrelevant facts, sells items from which you can’t benefit, or prices their wares in a way that make them wholly unappealing? Rather quickly, you don’t think about them at all, do you?
People differ from each other in countless ways, which is a very fabulous thing, and it’s only logical to treat people as the individuals that we are. Yes? Yes. :0)
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Cyrene Amanda is an Entrepreneur Advocate and Consultant, Business Analyst, Brand Developer, Marketing Professional, Web and Graphic Designer, SEO Craftsman, Social Media Manager, Technology Guide, and Customer Service Coach with over 15 years of experience
Katie Howe is a British native, founder of "What Katie Writes," and a successful Copywriter, Blogger, Technical Writer, Social Media Maven, and SEO Professional serving clients across the globe