Most marketing experts will tell you that you need select a niche or a target audience. That you can’t just market to “whoever is paying attention” and be successful.
Why is that? Think about it this way: if you are having a conversation with a total stranger, how do you know what to talk about? Unless you are able to find some common ground, the conversation will probably be short-lived.
Because neither of you have an understanding of the other, you must find a way to make a connection to involve each other into the conversation.
The same holds true for marketing. You must make a connection with your audience if you want them to pay attention and stay around to find out what your product or service is all about.
And, in order to make a connection, you have to know something about them. You have to know what problems they have that you can help to solve. You have to understand them.
That is why it is so important to select a niche or clearly defined target audience. Because once you’ve selected a distinct group of people you believe you can best help, you can research them so you begin to understand them.
Then and only then can you really communicate effectively with them. And that’s what marketing is; communication.
But once you’ve identified your target or niche, you must also be able to find and market to them.
The first step in doing that is to define them more specifically. How?
My suggestion is to ask yourself the following 10 questions to help develop a very clear description of your target. Then it will become much clearer to you where you can find them.
You may need to make some educated guesses when answering these questions and that’s okay. It’s a start and you can always refine your answers as your business grows and you begin to understand your target more.
As I go through these 10 questions, I’m going to use an example of a life coach who wants to help adults who are childhood victims of maltreatment or victimization, improve their health and wellness.
Why am I using this example? Because it is a clearly defined group, BUT these people do not wear a sign around their neck advertising who they are. So, they can be difficult to find and market to. Therefore, it makes a great example.
You can apply these same 10 questions to your business or niche, regardless of what they are. They are universal questions that apply to any type of business or target audience.
- What is their primary problem you can help solve?
Our life coach needs to clearly identify the current problem her potential clients are dealing with as a result of their childhood maltreatment. That is the problem she can position herself to help them overcome. Is it relationship issues? Is it job issues? Be as specific and focused as possible.
- Are they primarily male or female?
Our life coach has identified her target as females.
- How old are they?
Our life coach says they are high functioning professional women. In that case, I’d say we’re primarily talking about women between the ages of 25 and 45 years old.
- Where do they live? What type of community or neighborhood; urban area; suburban area? Also, do you have any geographic limitations (real or self-imposed) regarding where you can market or deliver your services or products?
If they are high functioning professional women, they likely live in a nicer suburban neighborhood or perhaps an urban area. Our life coach will need to identify where she believes the majority live in her area and whether she only wants to work with women in her immediate geographic area, or if she wants to do distance coaching.
- What type of work do they do? And where do they likely work? Their type of business as well as geographic location.
Professional women could be corporate professionals, doctors, attorneys, entrepreneurs or solo-professionals. Our life coach will need to identify the fields she wishes to focus on, taking into consideration the ones she feels include the greatest number of her target clients.
- What is their socio-economic status or annual household income?
High functioning professional women are probably enjoying financial success, making them of a higher socio-economic class. They probably earn a good income and enjoy the finer things in life. Money is probably not an issue.
- How do they spend their leisure time?
Do they belong to a gym or health club? Do they go to the movies or out to dinner frequently? Or, do they have young children and spend their time at elementary school functions, family picnics, children’s birthday parties or weekend soccer tournaments? Our life coach may need to make some assumptions here based on what she knows about her target. Again, that’s okay to start with. She can always fine-tune this later as she begins to understand these women better.
- What is their family structure or home environment?
This niche of professional women probably includes single women as well as those who are married and have children. Therefore their home environments may vary. They may have no support or family network. They may have strong family support. Or, they may be having issues with their family based on their past. Our life coach will need to keep this in mind when she selects marketing avenues and writes her marketing messages. She’ll want to focus on what they have in common and steer away from areas of abiguity.
- Do they belong to any associations or professional organizations?
If our life coach selects one or several industries to target, she should be able to easily identify associations or professional organizations these women belong to. Once identified, these are excellent venues for networking and speaking opportunities.
- What are their media habits?
Do they read the newspaper or magazines? If so, which ones? Listen to the radio? If so, which formats do they likely listen to? Do they watch TV? If so, which programs do they likely watch? Do they spend time on the Internet? If so, what kinds of web sites do you think they are visiting? Where do you think they are currently getting their information about health and wellness? These are all potential places to reach your niche with your marketing message.
Yes, again our life coach may need to make some assumptions. However all of these media can provide you with detailed demographic profiles of their audience. So if we’re looking for professional women in a certain geographic area, we’ll be able to find out if they are among the audiences for these different mediums.
Answer each of these 10 questions to the best of your ability. Talk to current clients to get insights. Or, talk to friends or colleagues who fit your client profile to gain a better understanding of who and where they are.
Once you build this target client description, you’ll have a much better sense of where you can find them.
The next step is putting together a marketing message that speaks directly to them and what they are dealing with. The more you understand them, the more you’ll be able to craft a message that will hit home with them. That message will become your magnet, attracting the people who you can best help.