An overhead view of a large target surrounded by people.

Knowledge is Power: 7 Steps to Understanding Your Target Market

Any effective marketing plan begins with understanding your customers. Don’t make assumptions. This usually leads to missed opportunities and money wasted. Getting to know your customers’ interests, needs, and pain points allow you to focus your message on the specific segment of the market that is most likely to purchase your product or service.  In this article, we’ll discuss 7 steps to target market success.

1. Market Research

Do your homework. This can often be the biggest hurdle for most business owners. It takes time. It takes knowing where to look and what you’re looking for. If you’ve been in business for a while, you may have a pretty good understanding of your customers, but you can always learn more and you may learn how to attract a new group of customers through your research.

There are many online resources to get data about potential customers. The US Census Bureau is a great place to start for free. Another useful tool is Google Trends to find out what people are searching for.

While there is no limit to the information available, most business owners wouldn’t consider themselves data scientists. That’s where a professional marketing firm, such as Peabody Communications, can step in to help with this research and planning.

2. Competitive Analysis

What are the other guys doing? You may find some companies doing a great job of targeting, so “strategically” copying them could be a good place to start. Imitation is the highest form of flattery after all. Or you may discover opportunities that your competitors are not taking advantage of. Remember the goal here is to gain knowledge to turn into action.

Easy and effective ways of doing this are to follow your competitors on social media, subscribe to their email list, and read their blog if they have one. Also read their customers’ comments and reviews to see how the competitor is perceived. If it’s all, or mostly negative, then you’re looking at opportunity rather than lessons of what to do with your business.

3. Create Customer Persona(s)

You’re basically putting a face to some of your research. Fill out their demographic information. Identify their motivations, and worries, and how your company can help. What are some commonalities across your research? Literally, put yourself in their shoes. i.e. “As a shoe customer, I want to find a store that has quality shoes for $50 and under to fit my budget.”

As you go through this exercise your customer(s) begins to take shape, helping you understand how you can be their solution. You’ll likely want to create multiple personas. To make sure you’re creating a well-informed persona, try conducting some interviews and ask your existing customers directly about their experience with your store as well as competitors. Ask them what their background is, and what keeps them up at night. You can always incentivize customers with special offers and discounts to participate in an interview.

4. Monitor Comments and Engagements

Listen to your customers. Read your reviews. If you’re on social media, read the comments. See if any of the users are in social groups related to your business. If you can be a fly on the wall in spaces where your target market is comfortable sharing their opinions, you can glean a lot of valuable insight.

5. Conduct Surveys

A great tool for getting to know your target market is to send out a survey. You can use a tool like SurveyMonkey. The key here is to make sure your contact list is comprised of the market that matches your research. If your list is from when you sold motorcycles and now, you’re a florist, it’s probably time to work on updating your list.

Be sure to ask the right questions. If you have gaps in your research, then ask those questions. You can also ask questions you think you have the answers to just to confirm your research. If the survey responses differ, then you’ll have to dig into those to see if it’s an issue of research or the survey.

And don’t forget incentivization. People are busy and generally don’t want to spend time taking a survey unless there is something in it for them.

6. Develop a Strategy

Now that you’re armed with the data, it’s to apply that to an action plan. The data can tell you how to segment your lists, when to send out touchpoints and how many, what and where to make social posts, and how to set up marketing automation.

Of course, this can be taken even further by partnering with…you guessed it…a strategic marketing partner like Peabody Communications. We will craft the customer journey to drive warm leads into your sales funnel, attract new and existing customers through inbound marketing, plus enhance your content, social, and search engine marketing as needed.

7. Best Laid Plans

Not every strategy goes as planned, or you’ll find out new information in the course of executing the plan. That’s why it’s important to remain agile. Stay actively involved in the results of your efforts. If something is not performing as expected, adjust, and measure again. Keep doing this until expectations are met or exceeded.

Through tools such as A/B testing and data analytics, you can craft your messaging and overall market strategy very effectively.

Rinse and repeat.