the ultimate guide to finding and defining your target market

If ever there was a cornerstone of marketing and business, it is finding your target market (AKA your customer avatar / target audience / niche).

It is the cornerstone of business because everyone has different wants, needs and passions. Everyone responds to different things. Everyone has different priorities.

Yes, it would be great if everyone in the world wanted your product or service or information. And perhaps they could if you marketed it to them in a way that spoke to them. As Seth Godin puts it:

“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.”

Can you imagine how hard it would be to change the marketing of your offering to fit each and every individuals wants or needs? How difficult to develop relationships and tell stories that relate to everyone?

As the saying goes: if you try to please everybody, you end up pleasing nobody.

Not to mention the work involved!By choosing a target market, not only are you more effective at marketing your business but you are also saving a lot of time.

But how do you actually go about finding and choosing your target market?

In this post, we’ll explore each of the steps involved.

HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR TARGET MARKET

At first, you need to start with a best guess of who your target audience is.

If you are brand new to business, this will be a mix of:

  • Who you feel will get the best benefit from your offer
  • Who competitors are targeting
  • Who you can connect with most
  • Who you can reach the easiest

If you have an existing business, you can look at the above but also have a look at your existing customer base. What do they have in common? Which customer’s  in particular require the least “effort” to convert to a sale?

In addition, you can look at your online data to help you get a more complete picture:

  • On your Facebook business page, you can go to “Insights” to find a breakdown of who your followers are
  • On your Instagram app, if you have a business account, you can go to the “Insights” from your profile
  • Within Google Analytics under “Audience” you can find a wealth of information about who is visiting your website
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HOW TO DEFINE YOUR TARGET MARKET

A common mistake small business owners make is just sticking to the bare basics such as age, gender and lifestyle.

This is part of it, yes, but it isn’t the complete picture. Here are 5 ways to define your target market:

No. 1 Demographics

This is the simple facts and probably the easiest to complete. This includes:

  • Age/generation: so maybe you want to focus on millennials or baby boomers, or a specific age.
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Education level
  • Income level
No.2 Location

I want to mention this one to you because, although, being online there is a lot of opportunities to reach pretty much everyone it is valuable to start with a specific location as your focus.

It doesn’t mean you are necessarily going to limit yourself to that location. However, you might choose, strategically, to focus your marketing efforts, especially your intensive ones, locally. This is even truer when thinking of networking and collaborations.

People will often relate more to people that are in a nearby location.

You might get some more leeway, you get some runs on the board and it’s just an easier way to manage.

This doesn’t mean that if you get an order from the US or from Europe or wherever that you’re going to say no or that you’re not even technically marketing to those people through your message. But in terms of which Facebook groups you hang out in or even if you’re running some ads, you might want to really specify down to your local area because you want to be focused and get as many customers in that area as you can.

Even things like Instagram, hashtags can be customised to a local audience, there are lots of local hashtags. And you can’t cover all locations in your limited 30 hashtags. However,  if you use your current location, at least that is a good starting point to really get your legs under you.

No. 3 Lifestyle

This is how your target market spends their days:

  • What are their hobbies?
  • What do they enjoy doing?
  • What do they watch on TV?
  • What do they listen to?
  • What magazines do they read?
  • Where do they go out?
  • What sort of restaurants do they eat at?

This is all that stuff that helps create a picture of a day in the life of.

All of these questions provide you with really useful information in terms of being able to relate to them, but it’s also useful in knowing where to even target your messages.

No. 4 Needs and Desires

This is possibly the most useful way to refine your target market.

If you are focusing around a particular need or a particular desire, you can really cut through and cater your messages to those people.

It works both ways: You’ve got the needs, which is really their challenges. Their Struggles. Something that you can really help them with.

And then there’s also their desires. Their ideal life. What they really want.

Even once you’ve defined down to these first three, the demographics, location, and the lifestyle, needs and desires, is really where it starts getting specific because you can still have so many people with different needs and different likes, even within the same demographic.

No. 5 Values

We all have different values and priorities and they change through our lives depending on what’s important to us at a particular time.

Some examples of a value is some people might really value organic food, healthy approach to lifestyle, they might like the outdoors, they might be vegan. Or they might value status and success.

Everyone has different values and while we all might value a lot of things to some degree, there are some things that take priority.

how to create a target market profile

Once you have chosen your target market, it is time to put all of that information together into a profile.

Your target market profile is a collection of all the above information in one place.

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In this document, I share 40 different questions to help you get to know your target audience better.

HOW TO DO TARGET MARKET RESEARCH

Once you begin to create your target market profile, you will probably discover there is a lot you don’t know about your audience.

It is easy to come up with details like demographics and location but when we need to go deeper and explore underlying needs, desires and values it takes a bit more research.

The first thought is always to conduct a survey or interviews. Both are great options but sometimes it is a real struggle to get participants and they can take a lot of work to create, conduct and review the results.

So to help I want to give you 4 other options for target market research which you might not have thought of.

These can be used instead of surveys or interviews or they can be used as a compliment to them – up to you!

Method No. 1 : The Muse

Instead of trying to find dozens of people to complete a survey, how about you just try to find one muse and get to know them really well.

This is someone that truly represents your ideal customer.

Your muse can be a number of people. It can be a friend or family member. It can be a total stranger on the internet. It can even be you (now or in the past).

The idea is you want to put yourself into their shoes. Think about their needs, their dreams and their challenges.

Check out where they are online. What social media platforms do they use? What websites do they visit?

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Method No. 2: Lifestyle Mapping

Once you have a muse or a general customer avatar in mind it can be helpful to map out their lifestyle. What they do on a day to day basis.

This is as simple as writing on a blank sheet of paper “When they get up on a Monday, they X then they Y” and simply map out all their activities for the day.

Yes, this is getting very specific but it really helps you to understand where the best places are for you to connect with them, what times of day you will have the best odds and what they are interested in talking about. It also might highlight any challenges they face on a regular basis that you might be able to solve.

Method No. 3: Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups (or any other online forum) are a fantastic place to gather information. Once you find a group where your audience is hanging out, it can be an absolute gold mine.

There are two main ways to go about getting market information from groups: the super sneaky way and the direct way.

The super sneaky way involves going to the search box in the group and searching for your key terms. Then you should be able to go through posts and comments related to your niche. Simply copy and paste as much information as you can to a spreadsheet for sorting and categorising.

target market research

The direct way involves asking some prompting questions yourself and conversing with those who respond to dive even deeper.

Once again you would copy & paste all these answers into a spreadsheet or document to help you look for trends.

Method No. 4: The ONE Question

Often when doing market research it is easy to get carried away with the million and one things we want to know about our audience. But sometimes the best information can come from asking the same question over and over again. And a great question to ask is one that really dives into the heart of what you can help them with.

Here’s the one I suggest: “When it comes to X (your product / service / solution) , what is your biggest challenge (or struggle) right now?”

This question works because people like to talk about what they are struggling with. They also don’t always know what they really want.

Once you have created your one question you can ask it anywhere and everywhere:

  • In Facebook groups
  • As social media posts
  • In your emails
  • In face to face conversations

Pretty much anywhere you encounter a member of your target market.

Then it is just a matter of copying the answers into a master document and reviewing it on a regular basis.

how to find your target audience online

If you have completed a target market profile and conducted some research you should have a more clear picture of where your audience is hanging out online.

This is important information as it will help you choose where to spend your time and money marketing.

Places they could be found include:

  • Social Media – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or something else
  • Forums or Communities- Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups or other online forums
  • Websites – news sites, review sites or blogs

HOW TO APPLY YOUR TARGET MARKET KNOWLEDGE TO YOUR MARKETING

Once you have your target market define and you understand how to connect with them, you can start applying this information to your marketing.

The easiest and most effective way to do this is to imagine you are marketing to ONE person.

To do this, you can create a “Customer Avatar”. This is where you write a description of your ideal customer. You give them a name, talk about their life, their likes and dislikes and what they like to do. You also write down what their challenges are and how you can help them.

This is then the basis for all of your marketing.

Every time you create a social media post, a blog post, an email – you create it as if you are speaking to this one person.

This will also help you come up with the content ideas themselves. You’ll begin to be able to come up with “lifestyle” social media posts that help you connect with them on a day to day basis.

BUT IT DOESN’T END THERE…

Target market research is one area in which you will never stop learning or growing.

The more you talk with your audience…

The more you test different messages…

The more you get data from your Google Analytics and social media insights…

The more you LISTEN…

The better your marketing will become. And the more sales you will get.

You do not simply create a target market profile, conduct a survey and say job done. Businesses who do that will stagnate.

As small businesses, we have the biggest advantage in that we can respond quickly to information we receive from the marketplace. We can quickly adapt to when things aren’t working OR we can start to optimise when things are going well.

This is our secret weapon – so make sure you are using it!

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