Friday May 25, 2012

Target Market 101: When to "Zoom Out"

Defining your business's target market is a crucial and foundational step in your marketing strategy. Sometimes, it's a really easy step - if you're selling, say, iPads or something. But most small businesses sell a product or service that fits more of a niche, and while you may be able to easily define a prototypical customer, how you define the group in which you are looking for that customer can be  an entirely different thing - and the difference in success or failure.

To illustrate with an example: a company wants to sell tools to small construction companies. The company has reasoned that its ideal customer is the manager/owner of one of these companies, who likely works onsite in addition to making purchasing decisions. Unfortunately, the company can't find many channels that cater specifically to managers of small construction companies, aside from a few online forums that sell banner ads. How will the company reach these construction managers?

The answer is to "zoom out." The ideal customer in question is elusive, so the company needs to find a larger, more easily identifiable group to which its particular audience belongs. The company did some research and found that construction workers and contractors are almost all male, with an average age of 47 (range of 26 - 69) years, and of generally average socioeconomic status. The company then reasoned that managers of small companies among this group will tend to be more experienced, and thus skew to the older end of the typical age range of 26- 69 years, excepting the oldest segment, which tends to be largely composed of private contractors. Further, since these ideal customers are often the owners of their companies, they can be expected to match the slightly higher socioeconomic status of a typical small business owner. Now, the company is aiming at a much more visible audience; something like upper-middle class males aged 35-55. The company can now target myriad established marketing channels aimed at this clearly defined group of people.

The above example is purely fictional and highly simplified, but the deductive process holds true. When your audience seems impossible to catch, take a step back and consider casting a wider net.

Michael Holley
Simple Machines Marketing

Written by Michael Holley |

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