Checklist to identifying your target market

One of the most important aspects to marketing, if not the most important, is understanding your target market. Without knowing your target market you will not be able to ensure that your message resonates correctly, and many hours (and dollars) of work will be lost.

For a small team that can't afford any wasted time or money, that's a death sentence to your marketing strategy. Fortunately identifying your target market isn't especially difficult. It just takes some time and dedication.

Why craft buyer personas?

Marketing is not about blasting your message for all to hear, that’s what soap boxes are for - let me ask you, when is the last time you paid for something sold off a soapbox? When marketing is done well it shouldn’t look like marketing at all, it should look like the right message at the right time for the right person.That’s because people are complex. People do not like being talked at, they like being engaged with.

Right now you’re thinking this is a bit more difficult than throwing an email together or a series of social posts linking back to your website. And you’re right. Being able to pull that off doesn’t require a crystal ball though, it requires good targeting. Fortunately, good targeting is pretty accessible (and we can cover it in this quick guide). Let's break it down into a series of tips.

Get granular

Our first tip when it comes to defining your target audience: get granular, really granular. There is a temptation in writing these buyer personas to stop half way. Don’t. Make a cup of coffee or grab a beer and have some fun.

Really consider who is buying from you. How old are they? Where did they go to school? What are their hobbies?

Asking these questions forces you to truly understand your buyers and prospects. If you find yourself stumbling here or coming at a loss for words it may be time to step away from the computer and pick up your phone to have a conversation. Or better yet, grab some time to meet in person. Getting granular puts yourself in your customers’ shoes and sets you up for success with your marketing strategy.

Be honest and realistic

While we want you to be granular that doesn’t mean we want works of fiction. Are there really men aged 25-35 who dye their hair a mixture of green and red, have been married three times, are on the run from the IRS, and desperately need your financial services, new toy for their child, or cream that cures athlete’s foot?

Essentially: be granular but don’t write the part that fits your story. Write down what you observe, because by doing that you’ll know if your solution is the right one for that type of person. The goal here is to be scientific.

If you find that you need to draw inspiration from your favorite novel, then maybe you’re trying to force a round peg through a square hole. This may be a sign it’s time to go back to the drawing board and consider your offering once more.

Remember what happens to u and me when you assume

Somewhat related to the above, try to avoid assumptions. In fact, avoid them like the plague. Go off what you know to be true from examining your customer base and having real life conversations with as many people as you can. If you assume, you risk following a rabbit hole that leads nowhere but hours of wasted time.

Just like the previous section, the goal here is to be scientific and jot down what you’ve observed. Not what you imagine.

Map their journey out

Be honest, have you given much thought to how your customers actually end up making that purchase decision? What steps do they take? How many variations of steps could they take (and do different personas gravitate towards these steps)?

Do they ask for opinions of their friends, family, or the internet first? Do they talk to your sales team or buy on their own? Being able to map out the journey from prospect to customer allows you to customize that experience in a way your personas can understand it, and feel comfortable with it.

If your persona is used to doing everything self-service a sales call will drive them away. Understanding that in advance ensures that you are catering towards the right set of people and maximizing the effort you put in.

Let it evolve

Our last tip is to let the personas evolve. The people buying from you today may not be the exact same subset of people who will buy from you 10 years from now. And that’s okay. Businesses that survive are ones that evolve.

Otherwise we’d still be driving these

Make it a habit to engage with and understand your customers, prospects, and product offering. Don’t go back to the drawing board every week or month, but perhaps every year it would be a good idea to review your personas with your team to make sure you’re on the right track.

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