Target Market: Why Do I Need One? How Do I Get One?

If you follow my blog (and you should :-)), you know that I talk about your tribe* often. Your tribe* is the group of people you influence. They are your brand champions, your friends, your fans, your clients, and your prospects. Without your tribe, you don’t have a business.

The narrower you get when describing and then marketing to your target audience, the easier, more effective, and less costly your marketing will be. If you try the “spray and pray” method, you will waste your two most precious resources – time and money. Unless, of course, you have a marketing budget the size of Starbucks’. (Didn’t think so.)

Target Market Target Audience
The natural next questions are

  • how do I know who my target market is?
  • what do I need to know about them?

Determining a target market for an existing business

This process is a bit easier, in my honest opinion (IMHO), if you have been in business for more than a year and a half-ish because you can look at past client demographics and data and narrow down from there. Looking at this data is much easier if you have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that tracks important information about your clients.

Hint: if you are just starting out in business now, get a CRM system (which can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet) and keep track of important client data. Here’s a list of data to track, but add to this list as it makes sense to your business.

Income level
Education level
Are they local/national/international?
What industry do they work in?
What is their position there?
What is their family situation (you are looking for common threads here like divorced, moms, dads, etc.)?

Where do you get this information? Some of it will be guess work, and some you can obtain from LinkedIn. I would also consider making note of who your ideal clients were and using their data over those who weren't.

Next, what are the psychographic pieces of information? For this part, I recommend you bring up the top five clients you’ve worked with in your business over the last year or so. Then answer these questions based on them.

What were they feeling before they hired you? What were the problems they were running away from? What are the top pleasures they are running toward? What were they calling out for help with?
What did they love most about your process? When they sang/sing your praises, what do they say about you?
What are the biggest results they achieved in working with you, both tangibly and emotionally?
What do they care most about in life, in general?
What do they fear most in life, in general?

There are many more questions that can be taken into account at this point in the process, depending on your business, your industry, whether you are B2B or B2C, and more. After you have given much thought to this information, and written it down, you can now draw the parallels and see the commonalities between the people you love to serve.

What you should come up with on the other side looks something like what I’ve done here to describe my client Mallory, who is a reflexologist and healer:
Denver-based single women, 35-55 years old, educated and professional (career women), who is overwhelmed, swamped, and seeking instant relief from daily stress; typical industries her clients fall within: marketing, authors, speakers, those who travel a lot for work.

Determining your target market for a new business

If you are new in your business, your process is going to look a lot different. Google will be your best friend, as will other people who are experienced in your industry with your products or services. You may also be doing a bit more testing than determining, initially.

My client Sara is an author and her genre of writing is somewhere between Paranormal Romance and Sci-Fi. She began doing research and found a gold mine of statistics here. This kind of data is invaluable, and you can likely find some of your own.

She also started reaching out to other writers with books and styles similar to hers and asked to do “informational interviews” with them. She asked questions about the kinds of people who come to their book signings and who write to them as raving fans of their work. Some of these people were not receptive to talking with her, but plenty of others were willing help!

In the end

Looking at, tweaking, and refining your target market is a continuous process. Your tribe will shift and change as your business evolves.

* Target market = tribe = target audience