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Who is your target market?

First things first, who are you selling to?

Brett Riley-Tomlinson



Before you can carry out any kind of marketing, you first need to know who your target market is.

By target market, we mean the people you believe will most likely buy your product or service. As much as you may think you are all things to all people, this approach is not always the wisest. If you take a more targeted (niche) approach you will get more from your marketing budget, as you will appeal to a higher proportion of people likely to make a sale.

To begin with, we typically recommend aiming at two different target markets (three at the most) as different platforms naturally align to different audiences. However, any more than this and you will most likely spread yourself and your marketing budget too thinly.

To begin with, paint a picture of your ideal customer. When I ask clients to do this, they start drawing a visual representation, but what we really mean is defining the attributes of this person, by answering the following questions:

  • Are they male or female?

  • How old are they?

  • Are they the owner of a business or an employee?

  • What’s their income?

  • What do they value the most?

  • Where are these potential clients located?

  • Do they have any other interests?

These may seem like simple questions; however, answering them in detail will form the backbone of your marketing strategy going forward.

Female looking at the camera

Female looking at the camera
Male looking to the right in a Burgandy jumper

Are they male or female?

Knowing the gender of your target market is important. For some companies, there may be a genuine 50/50 split. However, for most businesses, there is a definite lean towards one or the other.

If 70% of your clients are female it would make natural sense to target females in your marketing, as you’ll most likely get them as a client (statistically speaking). Knowing this will affect the terminology you use and the types of images and colours you employ in your marketing, as men and women react to different things in different ways. It also helps when you’re looking at key dates, too, as some of these may naturally align with your target market and provide you with a marketing opportunity.

How old are they?

We don’t expect you to know that your target market is precisely 37-and-a-half years old. By this we mean, is there a specific age bracket that you naturally align with? Not only does this help you to narrow down any paid advertising, it’s important to remember that the mindset of a 40-year-old is very different to that of a 20-year-old; there will be different motivators at play. So, knowing that your target market is 30-45 will help form the approach you take and the types of paid advertising you use.

Are they the owner of a business or an employee?

An owner of a business and an employee of said business will think in very different ways. Quite often, the employee thinks about what will make their job easier and what may allow them to become more efficient, whereas the business owner will likely look at the financial implications of any purchase. When you begin to target larger businesses, you’ll often find that you won’t be dealing with the owner but an employee.

By knowing who in the business you’re talking to will help you align your USPs to their problems. It will also help you determine the terminology that will resonate with them.

What’s their income?

One of the problems I often see when working with clients is that they aim for a target market that cannot afford their product or service—however much they would love to. Knowing their age will also be a key factor in this, as disposable income is a crucial factor.

For example: if you’re 22 and living at home, earning £25,000 a year, your disposable income will be a lot higher than that of a 35-year-old with one child living in their own home. When thinking about your target market’s income, therefore, the better question is: what is their disposable income?

Whether you’re B2B or B2C, this is a very important aspect to think about. As much as a company may turnover tens of millions of pounds, if their profit margin is 0.01%, it’s much better for you to target a company that turns over £500,000 but which makes a 50% profit margin; they’re far more likely to invest their money in your product or service as they have more disposable income. You can easily gauge by industry what companies’ profit margins are likely be; generally, in telecoms, it’s high sales/low margins. In a legal firm, it will be low volume/high cost. Make sure that you price your product or service according to your target market.

What do they value the most?

We touched on this earlier when defining their age, and whether they’re likely to be a business owner or employee. Knowing what your clients value will allow you to align your own values with theirs. For example, if you use a lot of packaging and your target market is environmentally conscious, using environmentally-friendly packaging and introducing a recycling scheme will be hugely beneficial to you. However, if you introduce all of that and your target market is not particularly environmentally conscious, you’ll just be adding another cost your client has to pay for, which could make you less competitive when it comes to price.

When people think of brand values they instantly jump to buzzwords like: honesty, integrity, years of experience, etc.; these are just words. When creating your values, they must represent who you are, both as an owner and as a business. If you are a local business helping local people, make sure that you also use local suppliers; people will respect and admire you for it. If you say you are a local business for local people, but you outsource all your work to a huge company hundreds of miles away, people won’t trust you. Having the correct brand values for your target market will help build customer loyalty.

Ariel view of an American Neighborhood

Ariel view of an American Neighborhood

Where are your clients located?

Regardless of whether you’re a brick-and-mortar business, this applies to everyone. As much as an online business can work with anyone, anywhere, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the budget to do so. Start in your local area, where your personal brand can help you become established, then grow outwards.

You may quickly find that having just 1% market share in an industry in Yorkshire is more than enough to achieve your aspirations—why would you need to target other areas? Knowledge of your locality will also help with your marketing and pricing. As a marketing company, we know that what we charge would be considered cheap in London; however, we don’t have the same living costs as habitants of the capital. Moreover, colloquialisms can be powerful in marketing.

Do they have any other interests?

If you know what else your target market enjoys, you may find common ground that you can utilise. For example, if I said that all of your clients liked and played golf, what would you do? You would learn how to play golf and weave this topic into your marketing. Likewise, when employing paid advertising you can use these other interests to narrow your target market, which is a useful tool if you can’t be specific about the other aspects above.

Like I said at the beginning, you may find that you have two or three target markets. You need to try and be specific—without being too specific. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it’s a fine balance that you will learn through trial and error.

This is a task that you should do more than once; as a company, we do this at least a couple of times a year. Our analytics help to paint a better picture of who we’re interacting with compared to who we believe is our ideal/target market.

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