We hear it all the time. “I want to grow my business. I need to reach more people.”
While it is true that a business increasing its number of customers is the route to growth; the reality is that not everyone is an ideal customer for your business.
Think about your favorite customer. They pay on time, provide great referrals, are frequent repeat purchasers, and are a pleasure to do business with.
Now think of your least favorite customer. You know, the one you wish you could fire. Which one would you like to multiply?
Even the American Dairy Association – who promotes the most basic of staples in America – milk, would deem their advertising dollars wasted if their message was placed in front of folks who are lactose intolerant.
Let’s face it, gone are the days where businesses have deep marketing pockets to brand their name for the sake of branding. Today every marketing dollar counts. The way to stretch that dollar is to strategically position the right message at the right time in front of the right people. Let’s discuss how to define the right people to grow your business, your target audience.
A WORD OF CAUTION
Beware of defining your target audience only based on your current customer profile. The universal filter you should start with is your potential market opportunity. If you only define your target audience based on customers who presently walk thru your doors, then you may be missing out on a growth opportunity segment not currently being served.
For example, here in Hampton Roads, VA roughly 1 in 4 residents have an affiliation with the military. If you are in the Norfolk marketplace and your current customer base is void of military representation, then you would miss out on a great growth opportunity if you solely looked to attract customers mirroring those you already have. Conversely, you may have tapped out a particular market segment and trying to grow that target audience may not bear fruit.
How are you to identify which segment of the population to pursue with your marketing message? There are three key areas to consider in defining your target audience. Think of these areas as filters to apply in order to find consumers who represent your growth opportunity segments.
Are you targeting a specific country, region, state, city, zip code, or radius around your location? Typically, it is a waste of marketing dollars to put your message in front of folks that are outside of your geographic target area. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.
There are examples of businesses stealing customers outside of their natural geographic zone. However, these instances are few and far between and require a compelling offer to offset the consumer’s commute as well as a good dose of strategic planning.
Some demographic hallmarks to consider are gender, age, income, ethnicity, household size, life stage, and education level.
I challenge you to think beyond age. I guarantee if you have 10 adults ages 25-54 (the classic media target audience) in one room they will not be the same. They will have a variety of other demographic characteristics.
There is most likely a unique attribute of your businesses’ product or service that makes your brand attractive to a particular psychographic target audience. Areas to consider when evaluating this filter are shopping habits, hobbies, interests, and social identities.
If you are a marina then your psychographic target audiences are boat-lovers and watersport enthusiasts. Putting your message in front of landlubbers is a waste of your marketing dollars. Look for common threads among your target audience.
Once you have applied all three filters; geographic, demographic, and psychographic target audiences, you should have a good idea of who you want to put your marketing message in front of to grow your business.
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