Launching a business is never easy. But out of all the crucial tasks that entails, one stands out above the rest: identifying your target customers. And while it’s great to think literally everyone will come running for your products or services, that’s just not how it works in real life. Heck, even the best products miss the mark with most audiences. That’s why you need a gameplan to help you define exactly who your target market so you can start your business off on the right foot. Here are eight steps you can follow to help you do just that.
1. Know the problem(s) you solve
It’s the million dolllar question: why are you in business? Hopefully, it’s to solve a specific problem with your goods or services. Once you’ve identified the problems you solve, write them down.
2. Who benefits the most from your solutions?
Now, think about all of the different groups that face the problems your business solves. Think in terms of who has the greatest need and whose needs are most urgent. (For example, if you sell low-fat ice cream, one problem you solve is enjoying a sweet frozen treat without greatly increasing unhealthy fat intake. Most people face this problem, but those facing serious health issues, or who pay particular attention to health and fitness, stand to gain the most from your solution.)
3. Start a customer profile
Next, begin describing these people in detail. Be sure to include:
- income level
- buying habits
- occupation or industry
- marital status
- family status (children or no children)
- geographic location
- ethnic group
- political affiliations or leanings
- hobbies and interests
The more of these you can lock down, the more your ideal audience will come into focus.
4. Go psycho(graphic)
This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Psychographic means going beyond basic demographics of your target audience to consider their personality traits, attitudes, values and beliefs, and general lifestyle. In other words, do your best to capture how they think. What you uncover can go a long way in helping you build the foundations of your business, including everything from logo design to the tone of your marketing language and promotions to the culture you create within your office.
5. Be specific
Generalities will do you no favors. So, try to hone your target audience as sharply as possible. The more specific you get, the better chance you’ll have of crafting effective marketing they’ll like and respond to.
6. Don’t reinvent the wheel
Checking out who your competition is targeting (and how they’re addressing them) is a great way to bring clarity to your intended market. After all, your goal is to make their customers your own, right? Beyond helping you see what’s working for your product, studying your competition also allows you to see how your target audience might differ from your competition. This insight can help you come up with unique positioning to solve the same problem.
7. Get outside opinions
At this point, market research can be a great tool for verifying and evolving your target market and customer profile. Surveys, individual interviews and focus groups can help you learn what was right with your customer profile and, more importantly, what you need to adjust. Don’t be afraid to take this on on your own or enlist the help of an expert agency.
8. Ask questions
More specifically, ask these questions after you have a complete customer profile and defined target market and before you start marketing:
- Are there enough people in my target market to support my business?
- Will my target market clearly see the need for my product or service, or will I need to educate them on the need?
- What will drive the final decision to buy?
If you’re happy with the answers you come up with, then you know you’re ready to start coming up with your actual marketing.
We’ve shown you the steps you can take to begin to get a better idea of who your target market is and some of the best ways to start thinking about marketing to them. Just remember—keep your focus on the customer problems you’re trying to solve. In doing so, your marketing will hit the mark—and your sales will hit the roof.