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Why having a target customer is crucial to your marketing

You’re told it all the time by us marketing types, but why is it really all that necessary?

I would estimate that every week we talk to a business owner and ask who their target market is and they say ‘everyone’ or ‘anyone’. No wonder they are struggling to cut through the noise to have an impact in their market place. It is indeed true that a lot of products or services can be eaten/worn/used by ‘everyone’, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is your target audience.

Marketing effectiveness comes from engaging your targets: really meeting their needs with the product and talking to their desires with your messaging.

I was recently in Te Anau on the south island of New Zealand where this targeting was prevalent on a fundamental level. The majority of the shops and restaurants had dual language on signage because a huge proportion of visitors to the area were Asian. This demonstrates a basic but crucial element of targeting your audience: are they able to understand you? Local business owners had understood their targets and adjusted their business model accordingly. Chinese restaurants abound, big round tables in hotels, photography incorporating Asian models, pop-up Japanese food bars featured in the food court. All of this was a brilliant example of tailoring to suit and appeal to the predominant audience.

Worried targeting means limiting?

Business owners are often nervous of seemingly reducing their appeal to the masses by tailoring their offering to smaller, defined segments. And I can understand the reticence to apparently limit your range, but by really honing in on your target market, you will be better placed to really, truly understand what it is they want and adapt to offer that. There is no amount of money you can throw at marketing that will replace a targeted approach. Plus it’s perfectly feasible to have more than one target market: gain success in one area and then move onto the next.

How do I find that sweet spot?

Not sure where to start with defining your target market(s)? Often the best thing to do is to review your existing client database. Look at the firmographics if you’re a B2B business or the demographics if you’re B2C and draw trends. It might be useful to rank each in terms of attractiveness. This could be ease of engagement, how quickly they pay, how price-sensitive they are, how costly they were to acquire, how much you enjoy working with them: whatever is important to you and your business. It is always easier to look for more of the same, so really understand what it is that your most attractive customers have in common. Dependent on your business model this exercise may illuminate some gaps in the market that you’re not servicing and can look to target to.

Don’t assume you know them – really get to know them

We often find interviewing target types for clients really useful: what was it that they were looking for? What need was satisfied? What emotion was being tapped into on the purchase? What benefit do they derive? Discussion groups, online surveys, in-depth interviews: the most suitable method depends on your client type. Use this insight to get under the skin of your customer. And don’t forget that even if you’re in the B2B market, people still buy people, so understand the individual within your B2B targets.

Document what your target customer looks like

What are their needs, wants, desires, fears, priorities? I would encourage you to document this however works for you – draw him/her and annotate if it helps, but most importantly really understand them. This ‘priority customer’ is a great tool to present to new team members when you’re on boarding them to fast-track their understanding of who you are looking to appeal to.

Understand your target, understand the value they derive from you and talk to them through your marketing in a way that appeals to them.

Catherine Stock-Haanstra is the Director of PIER Marketing. PIER would be delighted to help you get your brand in front of more of your prospects. Visit www.piermarketing.com.au for more information or contact the team on 03 5975 3742.