Defining the market – who will you target?

To develop a marketing strategy that extends your reach, you need to know who to target with your marketing messages.  Creating a customer profile is a great way to understand who your ideal customer is because it captures all the pertinent details about who they are.  And the more you know about potential customers, the more customized your messaging and offering can be, enticing them to buy your products and services.  Before you know it, your target market will start to be more defined.

You may have more than one

Depending upon your offering, you may have more than one customer profile.  Does your customer use the product themselves or will they use your offering to sell goods to others?  If your offering serves consumers and business customers, you’ll have more than one customer profile. For example, let’s suppose you sell bottled purified water.  You’ll have one customer profile for a business person needing to buy bottled water for their office employees and another for a homeowner who wants bottled water for their home.  On the other hand, if you sell toys, you may have a customer profile for parents (the buyers) and another for the users (the children). By developing detailed customer profiles for each type of customer or user, you’ll see how to market your products and services to each, uncovering niche markets and different ways to differentiate your offering.

Let’s get started …

Determine who uses your product or service and whether you sell to consumers or businesses.  If you sell to someone using your product or service for themselves or someone they know – and it’s not for their business or a nonprofit organization they manage – then your customer is a consumer.  Businesses and consumers have different motivations or purchasing habits for buying and selecting their products.  Understanding those differences, will help you know whether business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C) marketing tactics are appropriate when it’s time to extend your reach.

Next, create a general description of who uses your product/service and who the buyer is by determining demographics related to who you think your potential customer is.  If you sell to businesses, you will probably look at company size (revenue, number of employees, and/or number of locations), job titles, etc. and if you target consumers, you’ll likely look at age, sex, income range, and where they live.  Your target customer profile will be refined over time so don’t fret if it’s not perfect from the start.

What motivates your customer to make a purchase?

Once you have a general understanding of demographics, it’s time to address motivations for purchasing or using the product. To make your marketing efforts more fruitful, develop a list of customer attributes you think are relevant to buyers and users, treating them as separate groups. Use primary and secondary resources to confirm your hypothesis by evaluating the following at a more detailed level:

Keep in mind…

  • The buyer may not be the user; develop profiles or personas for each type to create your strategy.
  • Your target customer will get refined over time, helping you determine primary, secondary and niche markets where your success rate is greatest.
  • Be sure to evaluate whether prospects use, prefer, or dislike complementary products and services; understanding these preferences will help you determine distribution channels or partners to pursue in rolling out your offering to the market and assist with messaging.

With the behavior aspects – life style or life cycle traits, purchasing habits, and product preferences – included in your analysis, you’ll be in a better position to understand the type of people interested in purchasing or using your product or service. To help you bring your ideal customer to life, try creating fictional personas with the traits you identified.

With a customer profile in hand…

Now it’s time to investigate where potential customers are in the buying cycle.  Knowing whether the prospect is aware of different offerings, has a need or desire to purchase your type of product/service, or purchased something from you in the past, will help you reach your target audience with a compelling message that resonates, turning their interest in to a sale.