Marketing about consolidation, not exclusion

The first day of marketing class, the first 10 minutes, the professor explains the importance of a target market. And yet, in general, I would easily say three quarters of the businesses that hire me to work with them don’t have a firm target market lined out for the campaign when we begin our work. It’s the first thing we tackle in our time together. It’s also one of the simplest things we tackle throughout our entire marketing relationship.

I’ve heard it said, “Everyone needs my product. I don’t need a target market.”

I’ve also heard it said, “I don’t want to pinpoint a specific segment because by doing so, I’m not talking to everyone else who might be interested.”

I want to ensure that business owners and marketing managers alike understand the reason for developing and nailing down a target market is not to shut consumers out, but more easily “talk” to the ideal market through advertising and marketing efforts. This segmentation allows you to easily speak to your clientele where they’re looking and when they’re watching.

By being very specific about your ideal client, we can spend less money to talk to them. Why is this important? The answer, and the reason, is as simple as this: Because the message doesn’t get watered down in the translation.

If, as we have learned in the marketing business, it takes on average five impressions to get your prospective customer comfortable enough with you (or your brand) to make a purchase, then you can make the correlation as to how expensive it is to advertise to “everyone” enough to make an impact.

You will save money by marketing to a specific target audience. In addition, you’ll have more of the customers you enjoy working with the most.

I happen to know jewelry commercials are shown on ESPN. Doesn’t that seem counterintuitive? Most times, it’s men, not women, who make jewelry purchases. So the jewelry companies are going right to their target market.

Now that you understand why you need a target market, let’s talk about how to pinpoint one.

If you were to tell me about your favorite customer, how would you describe them? What are their demographics, including age, gender and income level? Why do you enjoy working with them the most? Note that it should be because they’re most likely to purchase your product and all of the upsells that entails.

Instead of just buying that MacBook Pro, they also buy the leather carrying case and most elaborate accessory kit. What’s more, they’re back within a year to purchase the upgrade. Do you see where I’m going here?

This IS the ideal client for your company.

First you figure out the demographics and then you figure out what they like to do. Do they own a dog? Do they prefer cats? Do they prefer imports to American- made cars? Where do they live? What Web sites and blogs do they visit online? Are they even going online?

By pinpointing all of this information, you can easily craft a marketing plan that works. This is a plan that not only works in the short-term, but also has long-lasting effects for your business.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in pinpointing your target market is realizing you personally might not fit into your target market. This presents a challenge, but one that’s easily overcome.

If you’re a male entrepreneur selling a product for female customers, it’s important to understand you probably won’t see the ad campaign unless you’re specifically looking for it because you’re not your own demographic.

Lets say, for example, that your company advertising targets women ages 18 to 25 who don’t attend college, make $20,000 to $25,000 a year, are unmarried with at least one child and renting a home of 1,000 square feet or less. Advertising in the Wall Street Journal probably won’t help you reach your demographic. It’s just not where your customers are looking.

Targeting a specific demographic isn’t about excluding a portion of the population from your message. It’s about consolidating your efforts.

Get in tune with your target market, be willing to change it as you learn more about your business and remain aware there are always members of our population who break out of our target market molds. That’s what keeps us on our toes.