In almost every discussion about small business marketing, the topic of your “target market” will be raised. And if like many business owners, you brush that aside, it’s time to back up and take a good, hard look at where you’re aiming your efforts.

Because if you don’t know exactly who your target is, how do you know where to aim?

Or what ammunition to use? Or which weapon? Or whether you hit the mark?

It would be like going fishing, and using bread rather than the specific bait that attracts the highest quality fish. (Or something like that…can you tell I’m not much of a fisher-woman?)

While it might seem like an indulgent, ‘marketing-hype” waste of energy reserved for big companies with big budgets, clearly defining your target market will save you time, resources and effort as you drive your business forward.

How? Because it gives you focus and direction.  It dictates the platforms, content and tone you use in your marketing efforts. It helps you define and refine your product or service to meet the needs of that target audience.

Many business owners are hesitant to be too specific in defining their target audience because they don’t want to “miss out” on the other fish in the wider pond.

But by having a clear and defined target market, you are not turning away other customers who fall outside the narrow definition. You can still serve and assist them. You just won’t be directly investing your valuable resources to target and attract them – spreading your marketing resources too thin to achieve any significant results.

You are simply directing those resources, your time and marketing budgets, to the audience that will give you the greatest return.

It’s helpful to think of your target market as the bullseye on a dart board.

Target Audience is like the bullseye on a dartboard

In the centre of the dart board is the bullseye – the high value, specific point which is the centre of focus. It’s worth the most points. If you can only hit one point on the dart board, that’s the point you’ll aim for.

But of course, darts will hit the outer rings. Those closest to the bullseye are still valuable and relevant. As you move towards the outer circles they may be less valuable, but still hold some value.

Do you aim for the outer circles? No! Do you take the points they give you if you do hit them? Yes!

Our time and resources are limited, so we should always aim them towards the high yield, valuable clients. Having a clearly defined target audience makes it easier to take that aim.

So how do you define your target audience?

To start to define your target market, know yourself first.

Consider the problem you solve and the benefits you offer. Why are you unique? Once you know this you can start looking for the people who suffer from these problems and, most importantly, identify those who would be willing to pay to solve them.

Look at your current customers – who are they and why do they buy from you? Who brings in the most business / income? What do they have in common?

Then think demographics – for example age, location, gender, income level, relationship status, employment status.

Then look at their personal characteristics, attitudes, values, hobbies and interests.

Once you’ve identified your target audiences, evaluate them.

  • Is it a big enough market?
  • Can they afford my product/services?
  • Do they spend money on this type of product/service?
  • Where does it sit within their priorities?

Then define these target audiences in terms of priority. The primary and secondary target market will receive your attention and focus – and provide you with the greatest return.

Action: If you haven’t already, take the time to clearly define your target market. Write down their characteristics and start paying attention to how you’re communicating – always keeping them in mind as you develop your marketing and business material.