Defining Your Target Business Web Audience

For each of your business goals decide who your target audience is. Phrases such as “everyone who eats chocolate” or “all airplane passengers” are way too broad. Unless you are Toyota or General Mills, you won’t have the funds to reach everyone, so you need to segment and prioritize your markets.

Market segmentation (dividing your market into smaller sets of prospects who share certain characteristics) takes many different forms. You need to select the one that’s the best fit for your business. For your online marketing plan, you need to locate the various sites on the web where your target audiences hang out, so you need to know who they are.

Think about it for a moment. The sites that appeal to opera lovers might not appeal to teenagers, and vice versa.

One caveat: Your online target audience might differ slightly from your offline audience. It might be more geographically diverse, wealthier, older, younger, more educated, more motivated by price than features, or vice versa. You discover these variations only from experience.

Here are a few forms of market segmentation:

  • Demographic segmentation: Sorts by age, gender, socioeconomic status, or education for B2C companies.

  • Life cycle segmentation: Acknowledges that consumers need different products at different stages of life (teens, young singles, married couples, families with kids, empty nesters, active retirees, frail elderly).

  • Psychographic segmentation: Profiles consumers by a combination of attitudes, values, beliefs, self-image, lifestyles, or opinions.

  • Geographic segmentation: Targets areas as small as a neighborhood or zip code or as broad as a country or continent.

  • Vertical industry segmentation: Targets all elements within a defined industry as a B2B strategy.

  • Job segmentation: Identifies different decision makers (such as engineers, purchasing agents, and managers) at specific points of the B2B sales cycle.

  • Specialty segmentation: Targets a narrowly defined market (such as 45- to 65-year olds, female caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s, or 16- to 35-year-old male owners of classic Mustangs).

Follow classic guerrilla marketing principles: Focus on one market segment at a time, gain market share and profits, and then invest in the next market segment. Otherwise, your limited marketing time and advertising funds are spread too thinly to have a significant impact. For more information on market segmentation, try Pablo's Mechanical or How Stuff Works - Marketing Plans.

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