One of the fundamentals of a small business marketing strategy is to determine who your target market is. By definition, a target market is a particular group of consumers or businesses at which a product or service is aimed. That makes sense, right? However, the concept becomes blurry when you sell or service or product that literally ANYONE can use. Does that mean your marketing message should target…. everyone? Here’s why you shouldn’t spend your marketing dollars trying to market to everyone.

Why define your target market

target audienceTarget markets help businesses craft compelling market strategies that can lead to successful market growth. When you identify a target market, you can improve your overall marketing outcomes. Understanding your primary, secondary, and tertiary target markets help you not only create the most compelling marketing message but also where to spend your marketing dollars. You can try to categorize your target markets even further by demographics, psychographics, geographics, or behaviors.

How do you prioritize your target markets?

The challenge with literally trying to market to everyone is that by attempting to do so, you’ll dilute your marketing message. Let’s say you sell water. Sure, every human being on the planet needs water, right? But there’s a reason savvy bottled water marketers try to make their product for niche markets such as health, sports, etc. They understand that they need to narrow their focus to reach a buying audience; otherwise, their message gets lost in, well, a sea of bottled waters! Here are a few ways to prioritize your target markets and, even more specifically, your target audience:

  • Who needs your product or service the most
  • Which market has the most challenges that your product or service will solve?
  • Which market has the highest capacity to purchase your product or service?
  • If your product or service is defined by repeat business, which market is most likely to be a repeat customer?

Define your product, define your audience

Back to the bottled water example. It’s water. In a bottle. Assuming we’re not talking about enhanced, flavored, or sparkling water, what sets regular bottled waters apart is how they define their product. Some companies base their messaging on freshness, outdoors, from a pure source, etc. Others boast health benefits even if they don’t add anything that adds health benefits. Still, others define their water as ideal for athletes. With these differentiators comes different messaging and different price points. They’re successful in marketing their water because they’ve chosen their audience and crafted their marketing message for that audience.

Dig deeper, do better

dig deeperThe deeper you dig into defining your audience, the more successful your message will be. Let’s say you sell a product that everyone can use, but through research, you find is most popular with seniors. Dig deeper, and you find that the majority of repeat buyers are senior women. Over sixty-five. Who are physically active. And live on the West Coast. Now you have a much better idea of how to sell your product because you know your primary marketing message will be one that resonates with physically active women over sixty-five that live on the West Coast. Sure, teenagers in the Midwest might buy your product too, but if you don’t, your biggest fans are those ladies on the West Coast, wouldn’t you start there?

Many small businesses are created with a fairly niche product or service, but if you are a small business that sells a more commodity product or service, go through the steps to narrow down who you should market to for the best chance of success. Not sure how to do that? Engage the services of a small business marketing professional to help. They’ll help do the research and determine what target audiences make the most sense and where your marketing dollars will be more effective.

The biggest takeaway is this: no matter what you sell, don’t try to market to everyone!

Patty Hughes
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