How do I identify my target market?

The question “How do I identify my target market” is something that comes up, a lot.

how do I identify my target marketIt’s something many struggle with.

But it’s really important as it helps you put your delicious offerings there in front of the people who want it.

Here is a guide with some actionable tips on how you can identify your target market.

1. What is a target market and why do you need one?

A target market is a group of people who want/need your offering and will buy it.

And, no, it can’t be anyone with a pulse.

Without some idea of who you are targeting you run the risk of alienating potential clients.

Your target market can be quite broad. For example if you sell kids clothes your target market is people with children.

You can narrow this down further depending on your products and services.

For example, if your kids clothes are biker-baby inspired outfits you are then targeting parents who have children and are interested in biker apparel.

Once you’ve found yourself at this level of clarity, you have actually found your niche.

You need to know who your target market is to ensure that your marketing efforts hit the right people.

Without a clear target market you’ll speak to no one < {click to tweet}

2. How do you find out who your target market is?

Do some research – but not too much.

Check out your competition briefly but then ignore them.

Grab a pen and paper for the 3 steps below:

i. Review your products/services then answer these questions: 

  1. What are the features of your product/service? List them all.
  2. What are the benefits of these features?
  3. How do those benefits help the end user?

You now have a clear idea of HOW you are helping. Time to figure out WHO.

ii. If you have an existing business you can do this little exercise

  1. Review your client list – divide in to 2 columns – Those you love working with and those you hate.
  2. Look at those who you love working with and establish common factors; male/female, age, etc ..
    You should see some correlation – and that’s your target market.

iii. If you still struggling to establish your target market, or need more clarity then this exercise will help

  1. Decide how much your product/services cost and how much money you want to make.
    There is a direct link between your target market and spending power.
    Designing a product that is for single parents that is super expensive will automatically result in a mismatch.
    Similarly, making something too cheap when you are offering something to the wealthy elite isn’t going to work either.
  2. Look at those around you, who in your current network would be an ideal client?
    Chances are you know at least one person who would be the perfect client. Study them!

3. Make your target market a person.

Once you’ve completed the steps above it’s time to make your target market a person (or a group of people)

  • What is their name?
  • How old are they?
  • Male or female?
  • Marital status?
  • Children?
  • Profession?
  • Average annual income?
  • Favourite holiday destination?
  • Favourite clothes brands?
  • Favourite movies, songs etc …?
  • Favourite food?
  • Lifestyle preferences (fit, foodie, couch potato)?

Why?

Because whenever you communicate what your business does you need to talk directly to that person.

(this will save you time, money and help you avoid talking to the wrong people)

You can design a few characters but they should have a lot in common.

4. Evaluate your findings

Once you have this clear idea who your target market is, and how your products/services are going to help them you need evaluate your list.

Ask yourself these questions (and be brutally honest with yourself):

  1. Are there enough people on the planet who need this?
  2. Do these people really need what I have to offer?
  3. Will they see the value in what I’m selling?
  4. Can they afford it?
  5. Do I have access to these people? (do you know how you can communicate your message to them?)
Remember, just because you have defined your target market as being X doesn’t mean you can’t change it.
You don’t want your target market to be too narrow. It’s ok to have a few niches

But before you go about changing everything make sure you’ve given it a good run to see what’s sticking (and what’s not)

Need help getting your target market figured out? Get in touch!

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18 Responses to How do I identify my target market?

  1. Your post makes me think of the “one person” concept. I guess I’m still figuring out who I’m targeting exactly, but I think I’m making strides toward identifying my niche…and I’m beginning to think I have more than one.

    • Hey Erin, having more than one niche is great – I know you do a bunch of great things … trying to work out one person for each niche can really help you figure out who to talk to!

  2. Great post Ameena! Do you think it’s okay if my target client was Ryan Gosling? I think I would be uber productive if I was picturing him on a regular basis :-).

  3. Hi, Ameena! Found you through the comments over at marieforleo.com and I have to say I love what you have to offer. Such great advice in every article I’ve read. This topic is especially important for me right now because I’m launching a new business venture in just a few days and I’ve struggled with identifying my target market in my past endeavors. I’m getting better at it, but I’m still not quite there. The “one person” method is something I’m definitely going to try out.

    Thanks, Ameena!

  4. Hi Ameena.. I really needed to read this, especially as I was struggling with my Ideal Client Avatar exercise as part of Marie’s B-School.. You’ve made it a lot simpler for me.. My challenge is two ideal customers and I kept thinking I had to have JUST ONE.. I think I can have two One Persons {!} for two different niches, right?

    • Hi Prerna, YES you can have a couple of ideal clients and two niches – as long as you are clear on what your message is and consistently speak to those people you’re good to go! So glad this helped clarify things for you!

  5. Hi Ameena, i just wanna thank you for the great depth and time you put in doing your work. I found this very interesting and as a matter of fact site in my course work at UMUC. I am at my final year studying Msc in International Marketing. Cudos for the great job!

  6. Very informative and useful article. Only one question on my mind, right now. Let’s say I want to start-up a business as a math and/or English/ESL private tutor. How do I even begin to find my sub-niche, since for example, saying my target market is ALL “students,” is hardly helpful at all. Also, how in the world would I not again answer “anybody with a pulse” if I am trying to segment my market to improve my efforts and results on the basis of gender? Hope you understand what I’m getting at. I’m finding it damn near impossible to narrow down my niche enough. Thank you.

    • Craig, IMHO I think you’re missing your market. It isn’t the students (unless you’re aiming at college/university students) it’s the students parents. I’d suggest a short list of potential customers:
      1) Immigrants with school age children who want to ensure their children succeed at school and have high disposable incomes (professionals etc).
      2) Parents of children in high performing or exclusive schools who are paying good money to ensure their children’s future. If you really want to segment this further you could look for parents with little higher education who can’t support their children’s studies themselves.

      As Ameena notes, there is no point targeting people who can’t afford your service. Parents from non-english speaking backgrounds and/or less education who want their children to succeed are likely to want their children to have every opportunity – that’s your business, providing opportunity to students who are disadvantaged in language or mathematical training.

  7. Hi Ameena,

    My issue in figuring out my target market is that I know exactly who I am targeting, I just don’t know a whole lot about them because it is such a broad range of people.

    I am starting up a Tshirt company that will eventually expand to include tank tops, hoodies, socks, cell phone and tablet cases, etc.

    I am targeting activists and people concerned with our failing economy, corporate corruption, environmental problems, bad politics, long-term sustainability issues, possible solutions, etc.

    This includes a wide range of people, however I know many of the places to go to get my product in front of them having been an activist myself for 15 years.

    If I had to guess I would say:
    What is their name? All Nationalities
    How old are they? 20-60
    Male or female? Both
    Marital status? All
    Children? Yes and No
    Profession? ???
    Average annual income? $18,000 to $60,000
    Favourite holiday destination? ???
    Favourite clothes brands? ???
    Favourite movies, songs etc …? Movies: Documentaries
    Favourite food? ???
    Lifestyle preferences (fit, foodie, couch potato)? Active

    Is this enough? How do I fill in the blanks? Ask on forums, etc?

    Thanks for any advice given.

    • Ryan, I would segment further based on your product. For example, a corporate lawyer who leans towards socially responsible activism probably wont buy your products. Their income relies on a professional image and that probably doesn’t include hoodies or tablet cases with anti-corporate logos.

      Use the list and add or segment areas with your products in mind. There will be a cultural fit within those answers that identifies your market. Add whatever questions you can think of to help define your ideal customer. Their favourite movie might be irrelevant, but maybe they subscribe to particular magazines, or watch specific TV shows? Marital status might not matter, but age will – what age brackets wear hoodies and t-shirts and keep up with the latest technology?

      Hope that helps, and please excuse my dodgy Australian spelling 🙂

      The point of marketing is to identify your target customers so you can have a worthwhile conversation with them.

      • Hey Brian, Thank you so much for your response! Being that it has been a few months later since my first post I have a much more narrowed perspective on my target market and you are absolutely right with everything you said. I appreciate your contribution. 🙂

  8. Thanks for the post. I always thought it would be a struggle to find a target market. I was told that a lot of research had to be conducted in order to define the market and determine what they need. As a small business owner, I did not have the resources to do it. By looking at my current client base, it makes it easier to define a target market.

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