How to Identify Your Target Market

Identify your business's target market so that you can best serve and advertise directly to your real customers. To identify your target market, you first need to answer these questions:

  • What are you selling, and what makes it so unique? For example, what makes your merchandise different from what people can buy from other big retail chains?

  • To whom do you want to sell it? Are you selling to parents? To retirees? To the environmentally conscious?

  • Why should people buy the product or service from you? Are you open very late at night so that customers who work long hours can drop by your store? Do you offer free delivery of large items so that walk-in customers don’t have to lug your product home?

When you have the answers to these questions, you should do two things:

  • Focus on your primary market. Many business owners fall into the trap of believing that their products or services are “for everyone”— that is, anyone would be interested in or need the products. But even if your business appeals to a broad market of diverse consumers, you need to identify who your ideal consumer is. After you’ve identified your primary market, your advertising should match that focus.

  • Research your market. Knowing your target audience is critical: Your ads won’t work if they don’t appeal to what your potential customers want or need. Research and find out as much as possible about the people you want to sell to.

    Your market research can take many forms:

    • Demographics: If you oversee the advertising for a new business (or you want to go after a new type of consumer for your business), you can start by checking out some basic demographic information. The best research comes from primary sources — in other words, you should call around for information.

    • Publications: You may also be able to find information in publications, which may track demographics, sales information, trends in your industry, and other useful consumer information.

    • Potential customers: Conduct an informal poll by asking potential customers — especially those you've identified as your target audience — what they’re looking for that other businesses don’t provide.

Differentiate your business from your competition (in a good way) by targeting customer needs and attracting business!

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