What is a target market?
A target market is the group people that are interested in what you have to offer. So if you’ve got dog toys to sell, then your target market is dog owners.
QUESTION #1: WHO IS YOUR TARGET MARKET?
When I ask that question, people tend to answer with straight demographics like, “My
target market is women from ages thirty-six to forty-five who make fifty thousand dollars
a year.” For a very long time, straight demographics like that were pretty much the only
way to separate the people you wanted to target from the rest of humanity. Traditional
media catered to certain demographics through its programming and sold advertising
along those lines. If you wanted to reach well-off, intellectual men, you might advertise on
the late night news or in The New York Times. If you wanted to reach housewives, you
might advertise during a soap opera in the middle of the day. Unfortunately, straight
demographics don’t give you any of the juicy information about the individual. In the old
days, the best you could do was group people in general terms, according to age, gender,
income, and geographical location. The Internet has changed all that. Today you can get as
granular as you want to with the data available. You can segment people based on musical
taste, medical background, and shoe size. If you like, you can even group according to the
movies they watched last month or the websites they visited yesterday.
Because marketers are now able to target so many different characteristics so
accurately, people have lost all patience for generalized, mass media messages.
Consumers expect and demand that your advertising be extremely relevant to them. Say
you own a local pet food company and your advertising speaks to women in Tampa who
love dogs. If I’m a man in Tampa who loves cats, you might want to create a separate
message for me. It doesn’t matter that both target markets can get food for their animals at
your store. Consumers want and expect messaging that speaks directly to them, or they
will likely ignore you. There’s just too much information bombarding us at all hours of the
day and night. As modern humans, we are subconsciously forced to screen out anything
that doesn’t directly apply to us. So a dog food commercial may not even register on a cat
owner’s radar, even though your store also sells cat food.
To create hyper-targeted messages, you have to know your target market inside and
out. Successful businesses get inside of the customer’s mind and find out what the
individual really cares about. What are their pains and passions? What do they desire?
What do they think about, and what do they search for online? When you can find out
those tiny details, you can search more specifically and find buyers in not-so-obvious
places. For example, in the “how to make money” business that I have, I often think back
to myself when I was a twelve-year-old kid buying stuff from infomercials. What were my
desires? What got me excited? Where did I look for more information? What words and
phrases was I searching for? What magazines did I read? I try to figure out what my
mindset was at the time. If I had a wrestling product, I would think back to my own
wrestling days. Who are the people in the wrestling market? What are they searching for?
What problems do they want to solve? What questions do they need answered? I suggest
digging into your own experience to create as detailed a picture as possible for the product
you are selling. You want to go way beyond typical demographics when answering
question number one: Who is your target market? Then, when you have an accurate
picture, you can move on to the next question.