Why You Need a Target Market (and How to Pick One With Laser-Like Focus)

Categories // Business Strategy

You’ve seen a laser beam, right?

A laser beam generates an intense beam of light.

That beam of light is tightly focused; it’s not a random spray of particles.

In fact, laser beams are so tightly focused that doctors use them in surgery for precise cutting and healing.

So what do lasers have to do with your business?

The same concept of laser focus applies to your marketing strategy.

You want your marketing strategy to be laser focused—not randomly sprayed—and aimed precisely at a specific group of people you want to communicate your message to.

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Let’s back up for a moment. What is a target market?

A target market is a group of people (customers, prospects) who have something in common. When a group shares something, this allows you to direct a laser-like marketing message that grabs their attention. Common elements in target markets typically include:

  • Geography
  • Age
  • Job titles
  • Industry
  • Hobby
  • Products/services

These are just a few examples. There are many other possible target markets and the more specific you can get the better.

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Why would you want to develop and communicate to a target market?

There are two main reasons:

  1. It’s easier for you to find the groups of people you want to sell your products and services to.
  2. It’s easier for consumers to find you because in your marketing messages you make it very clear that you are focused on serving a specific market instead of just being a generalist and serving everyone. When people are looking for somebody who understands them and provides the things that they need, they will come looking for you.

Does this apply only to online branding strategies?

It can happen either online or offline, through any channel. For instance, let’s say you’ve written a guest article for a publication and your message in the article is tailored to a certain person.

When that person in your market reads your article, he or she is going to think, “Oh, this person can help me, she understand me, she’s speaking my language.”

What happens if you ignore marketing to a target market?

If you don’t develop a target market, you are not going to be known for anything specific. You’ll be perceived as a generalist offering a commodity. Nobody is going to identify with you. People won’t believe you know their problems and how to provide solutions for them.

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But how do you go about picking a target market?

How do you start finding and defining the people you want to market to?

How do you figure out where they are located?

Let’s say you know you want to serve a certain group. You know that certain groups tend to hang out in already established groups—online and offline. There are publications geared toward these people that you can then use as marketing channels.

This target group is already assembled; you’re not sending your message out to everybody hoping that somebody somewhere will respond to it.

Two examples

An easy group to target is marketing managers. You could go on LinkedIn and search groups where marketing managers get together to discuss marketing issues.

Or let’s say you want to target CEOs. There is a publication and an associated website called CEO Magazine. Just imagine. Here’s a group of people already assembled and easily accessible.

The same idea applies to local markets

You can search for your city or town and find professional organizations to market to.

For instance, maybe you can provide a 30-minute presentation to the members of the chamber of commerce (or some other local organization) about what you do.

Of course, you can always network the old-fashioned way and find someone who needs your services.

Developing a target market is just for certain types of companies, right?

No, it’s not. Every company should communicate to a target market. That’s because you want to be an expert in your industry. You want to own that part of the market and create a niche offering. If you focus on a target market and provide them with specific services, it differentiates you from everyone else.

But won’t you lose revenue by eliminating potential customers?

You probably won’t lose revenue. I would actually argue that you might even do better, because when you focus on a target market, that’s when you can do your best work. You’ll attract more of these people, which is what you want.

This starts a cycle that leads you toward more success. When you do your best work for the clients you like best, your clients are happy and you get a great reputation as being able to serve this market.

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You don’t have to turn away business either

Communicating to a target market doesn’t mean that if somebody wants to work with you but is not the perfect fit you have to turn that work away. You get to choose whether or not you want to pursue the work.

Remember: It’s not possible for you to be all things to all people. It’s best to stay focused on your target market and the services you offer. 

Once you’ve mastered a target market, you can then take what you do—your service or product—and move into a different market.

The bottom line

Target markets boost your credibility as the expert and “go to” person in your industry.

Picking a market should be straightforward, but sometimes people get stuck—they’re trying to pick the “perfect” target market and end up doing nothing.

You’re better off picking a target market and seeing whether it’s the right fit than not picking a market at all. You can always adjust your marketing along the way.

Do have questions about picking a target market?

Write them in the comments section below, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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