Who You Talkin’ To? Identifying Your Target Market

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Do you feel like you're spinning your wheels? Spending time and money promoting your business, only to see a limited (if any) response?

Maybe you’re not talking to the right people.

Do you know who your customers really are?

If you haven’t identified the ideal customer (a.k.a target market) for your product stop everything and do it now.  Understanding your customers is the single most important step in creating marketing campaigns that actually work.

If you think “Well, it really could be anybody” then I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but you’re wrong. You can’t be all things to all people, or as we like to say in marketing "if you're talking to everybody, then you're talking to nobody."

Every destination, every accommodation, and every activity has a limited appeal. That’s why you have both the Four Seasons and The Holiday Inn Express. Either one will give you a place to rest your head at night, but they target distinctly different markets.

Why identifying your target market is so important

As a business owner, it's natural to focus is on your location, your products and your services. But in order to break through your customer's natural BS-detector and grab their attention, you need to change your focus. What do your customers care about? What kind of experience are they looking for?

And you can't possibly answer those questions unless you know who they are!

How do I know who my target market is?

To begin defining your target market, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who would buy this?
  2. Why would they buy it?
  3. Why should they buy this over a competitors offering?

As you’re formulating your answers be sure to think about:

  • Geography: Where do your customers live? You'll want to advertise in their backyard.
  • Language: What is the local language and dialect of the people you are trying to reach?
  • Culture: Not just ethnic or national cultures, but what sub-culture is going to be most inclined toward your brand? Are you targeting eco-travelers? Digital nomads? Sportsmen?
  • Money: The price of your product will always influence your target market. Some customers choose low priced products because they have to; some seek out the best deal; then there are those who will buy the most expensive option just because it is the most expensive.
  • Other demographics: Should you be targeting business or leisure travelers? Baby Boomers or Millennials? Couples or singles?

It is okay to have more than one target audience; however, you’ll want to develop separate marketing campaigns for each group.

How to research your target market

I should note here that identifying your target market and learning what makes them tick is hard. Large corporations are willing to pay a lot of money for market research and Big Data that tells them who's interested in buying what and why. But if you can't afford to pay other people, you'll have to do some sleuthing on your own. Here’s how:

  1. Put yourself in the customer's' shoes. What do you think about before making a purchase like this?
  2. Ask your existing customers. Why did they choose you? How did they benefit from their purchase?
  3. Stalk your ideal customers online. What do their LinkedIn profiles say about them? Who do they reTweet? What do they say in their Yelp! reviews?
  4. Use analytics. What pages on your website get the most traffic? What content gets the most engagement?
  5. Google it. What statistics are available from trade organizations, industry groups, or even the government that are relevant to your audience? What articles are being written on the subject?

It can help to get a fresh perspective. That's why identifying your target market is usually the first topic I cover with my clients.

Get To Know Your Best Customers

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