Business Fundamentals: Your Target MarketHow you communicate as a business or organization determines how your audience interacts with you. In order to effectively market and advertise your business to the right audience, you must determine your target market.

Your Target Market

If, like most small businesses and organizations, you have limited resources to invest in marketing and advertising, who specifically should you target? If you’re like many small business owners and managers, you may be tempted to say, “Everyone!” Small businesses are rooted in optimism and ambition – why else would someone take the plunge into entrepreneurship if they weren’t convinced their business or organization would be wildly successful? That optimism often carries over when discussing target markets – why not target the public at large and attempt to bring in as many new customers as possible? Why should a business or organization intentionally limit marketing and advertising to a specific group of people?

You Cannot Target Everyone

Finding your target audience is important because a small business or organization simply cannot feasibly target everyone, especially if the products or services offered do not meet a need shared by the public at large. Without a specific target market, marketing and advertising efforts can become diluted and less effective. Worse, a small business or organization can fail if a target audience simply doesn’t exist and fundamental changes aren’t made to existing products and services. Therefore, it is vital that every small business and organization identifies the target audience for their products and services and effectively engages that audience through targeted marketing and advertising.

Identifying Your Target Market

It is very simple to begin identifying your target market – you simply need to study your current customers or, if you starting a new business, customers that purchase identical products or services from competitors. Begin identifying common characteristics of your existing customers. If you have an online business, attempt to identify common characteristics of your customers through online reviews and purchase histories. If you have an opportunity, engage in casual conversation with your customers and learn more about them, but avoid improper or invasive questions. Finally, it is vital that you do not assume to know your target audience based on your own expertise – for instance, you may assume that you understand your customers’ wants and needs based on your expert knowledge of your products and services, but that is not always the case.

What Does Your Product Satisfy?

Next, study your products and services. What needs or wants does your product or service satisfy? What unique benefits do you specifically offer to entice your customers to purchase a product or service from you? Do your customers mostly buy an equal amount of your products or services, or do some buy considerably more than others?

Data Collection

If you choose to allot marketing resources to identifying your target audience, there are some relatively inexpensive methods for collecting data. Data can be collected through surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Data can also be collected online through Google AdWords Keyword Planner, a tool that allows potential advertisers to research the popularity of search keywords and ad group ideas. It is also useful to search social media networks like Facebook and Twitter – search for keywords and phrases associated with your product and service and find out what social media users are saying.

Once you have identified your target market or markets, you are now equipped with the knowledge you need to make better and more effective marketing and advertising choices.