In the old days of advertising, the name of the game was reach and frequency. Brands preferred mass media vehicles like television and radio because they were the easiest means to reach large audiences and build brand awareness. But the world has drastically changed with the internet. Now the focus is all about how to reach a target market for improved marketing to obtain specific audiences.
Increased media fragmentation and new tools for reaching people, like targeting, have evened the playing field between businesses large and small. Even the smallest mom-and-pop shop has opportunities to get in front of their target audience and drive awareness at a faster clip than some of the largest brands.
Segmentation is a key tenet of effective marketing. How can you achieve your goals if you aren’t reaching the right consumers?
Market segmentation means getting to know your market — learning demographic, geographic, and psychographic variables about the people who have the problem your product solves.
- Are there groups who have different needs?
- Are there groups who think or feel differently?
- Are there groups who have different lifestyles? View different media?
Not all markets show a distinct set of groups, but most do. If you don’t find viable groups, you can use a concentrated strategy, where you develop a single product/ message for the entire market.
Most firms use a differentiated strategy, where they target 1 group within the market or several groups. Sometimes a firm will develop different products/messages for different groups; sometimes they’ll use the same product with different messaging strategies aimed at the individual groups of consumers.
For example, a brokerage firm might have an IRA account and market it to different groups by changing the message. A group composed of younger workers might highlight the growth over time by putting in a small amount of money, which the message to a group composed of older workers might highlight the increased contributions allowed older workers under US tax law.
Online marketing success depends on segmenting to find your target market (or markets) and targeting your marketing strategy (message, products, service options) to appeal to this target audience, just like it does in an offline environment. That’s why vanity metrics, like Facebook Fans, don’t matter — they’re likely not part of your target market.
What is target marketing?
A target market is a group of customers a business has decided to aim its marketing efforts and ultimately its merchandise towards. A well-defined target market is the first element of a marketing strategy.
According to Entrepreneur, target marketing is: Your target customers are those who are most likely to buy from you. Resist the temptation to be too general in the hopes of getting a larger slice of the market. That’s like firing ten bullets in random directions instead of aiming just one dead center of the mark–expensive and dangerous.
Target marketing is the product of research into your consumer base and the needs of the local market. There are several types of target marketing your company may take advantage of depending on how you wish to generate interest with consumers. Combining a couple of strategies can garner more attention from a wider base of potential customers.
Target market example … benefits of targeting
Think about it. Not everyone is the same, right? Not everyone wants the same things. And, not everyone looks for the same things when they buy. So why would you think you can create a single product, with a single message and everyone will want it?
Target marketing both reduces costs, because you’re not wasting resources trying to please everyone, and increases revenue because people buy products they see as “for them.” Thus, instead of creating generic products (and messages) that don’t “speak” to anyone, you’re creating targeted products and messages designed to tickle the fancy of a smaller group of people.
Target marketing parameters
Targeting a product to a particular age group or generational cohort is a way to concentrate your marketing efforts and generate product interest within that particular group. According to Entrepreneur’s web site, research is necessary for age or generational marketing to determine the status and living situations of consumers in your potential target group. For example, a middle-aged woman in the modern era may still be on the dating circuit and not look to settle down anytime soon just as easily as a woman in the same age group could have a family.
Income-sensitive marketing seeks to target your services or products to consumers of particular income and economic status. This strategy also shapes the prices you charge for your goods and services as well as the marketing campaign itself. For example, products marketed to consumers with higher incomes will usually have higher prices while those products marketed to consumers with lower incomes will usually have correspondingly lower prices. This permits more consumers in your target market group to afford your products.
Gender-specific marketing shapes a campaign toward one gender or a specific group within that gender. For example, target marketing toward pregnant women seeks to generate more interest in your goods and services within that particular group. How you accomplish this task depends on the outcome of your market research and gender needs within your local marketplace. This research may influence the types of images, colors, and language you use in your marketing campaign to attract your target gender or gender group.
Geographic areas across the country have different product needs. Targeting a marketing campaign to meet the signature geographic demands of consumers in your marketplace can boost your company’s importance and necessity in the minds of consumers. This strategy also works with seasonal marketing campaigns to take advantage of shifting consumer moods as the weather turns hot or cold. For example, many beverage companies roll out pumpkin-flavored hot drinks during the fall to catch consumers turning attention toward Thanksgiving and colder weather.
How to target for improved marketing … steps in target marketing
Here are six steps to employ in defining your target market:
- Understand the problem(s) you solve
- Paint a picture of your ideal customer
- Who is most likely to seek a solution to the problem you solve
- What does the market look like
- Think about your internal customers — employees and their capabilities
- Investigate competitors in this market
A better way to create target markets
Of course, there’s a better way to create target markets. It is one that integrates across critical elements of market segmentation. One that divides the total market up into groups — targeting — determining which group or groups will be most profitable. And finally positioning to develop a clear message (and product features) that satisfy the needs of your chosen target market better than competitors.
Same product/ different message
Target market selection
Once you’ve identified the various segments within the overall market, you’ll need to look at both competitors and your internal capabilities in deciding which groups you’ll target.
- Are group differences wide enough to justify targeting them?
- Can you meet the unique needs of 1 or more segments?
- Do competitors already do a good job of meeting the needs of a particular segment
You also want to look at the potential of each segment:
- Is the segment large enough, although small segments, called niches, are potentially valuable with low-cost digital marketing strategies?
- Is the segment stable enough — will their needs likely exist into the future?
- Is the segment wealthy enough — although even low-income segments can be valuable if the problem is serious enough?
- Can you reach them without wasting money on media that reaches everyone?
The last elements of target market selection are to define your target market. In traditional marketing, we commonly talked about target markets as being: 18-24 college students, from middle-class backgrounds, studying at public institutions, etc. While better than nothing, these somewhat generic target markets didn’t help in the next step — positioning.
Today, we’re more likely to use personas to define target markets. Personas are more detailed, specific descriptions of your target market, focusing heavily on psychographic differences and usage behaviors that differ between market groups.
Positioning – Putting it all together
It’s not enough to segment the market and define your target market — or persona –, you need to clearly position your product in the minds of your target audience as something designed “for them.”
First, differentiate your product from those created by competitors. Give it unique features that especially appeal to your target audience; features as simple as a color choice (i.e., Apple 5c) or as the complex is a totally different system.
Then, create messages that clearly articulate this difference, why your target audience cares about it, and how you deliver it better than competitors. FOCUS on a single reason why your target market cares about your product; don’t cloud the message by listing EVERYTHING you do.
The bottom line
To be effective in this new era, we as marketers need to see our jobs differently. No more just focusing on metrics like clicks, video views or social media shares. We must successfully integrate our function with other business functions to create entire brand experiences that serve the customer all the way through their experiences throughout the business.
We can do better. Much better. But first, we need to stop seeing ourselves as crafters of clever brand messages and become creators of positive brand experiences.
There can never be enough focus on continuous improvement on brand marketing, independent of how well the business is doing.
Need some help in capturing more customers from your marketing strategies? Creative ideas to help the differentiation with potential customers?
Call today for a FREE consultation or a FREE quote. Learn about some options to scope your job.
Call Mike at 607-725-8240.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new ideas.
When things are not what you want them to be, what’s most important is your next step. Call today.
Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Are you devoting enough energy improving your marketing, branding, and advertising?
Do you have a lesson about making your marketing strategy better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
More reading on marketing strategy from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library: