Imagine that you have just opened a new yoga studio offering heated vinyasa flow classes. You decide that you need to get the word out to the community, so you place ads in a local newspaper. After a month, you realize that you haven’t gotten any clients in from this ad, so you do a little investigating, only to discover that the newspaper’s readership consists primarily of retirees—not exactly the most likely people to sign up for a vigorous hot yoga class!
Congratulations, you have now learned that successful marketing isn’t just about getting the word out; it’s about getting the word out to the right people and through the right channel. The “right people” are the ones who actually have a need for your business, and therefore are your potential clients. In order to market to the right people, every business should identify its target market, and focus their efforts on reaching that particular group.
What’s a target market?
A target market is a specific group of consumers at which a company aims its products or services, and is made up of individuals who are most likely to purchase from that company. In today’s highly differentiated marketplace, consumers can be broken down by demographics, lifestyle, level of brand loyalty, socioeconomic standing, and technological sophistication, among other things.
Although marketing to the masses may seem safe, it’s like shooting an arrow wearing a blindfold—you don’t know where to aim or what you’re aiming for. “But if I’m marketing to everyone, I’m bound to capture my target market too, right?” Wrong. Instead you are simply getting passed over by most while not capturing the attention of the ones you want, not to mention wasting money in the process. Targeting a niche market doesn’t mean that you’re excluding others from becoming clients. It just means that you can now develop a clearer marketing message to be aimed at those who are more likely to come to you instead of going to other studios.
Defining Your Target Market
Start by taking a look at your current clients. The first step is to gather basic demographic information about them and enter that information into a program so that it can be easily analyzed. Ideally, you will be using software that can generate reports on your clients’ sales, location, and demographics. You may uncover surprising patterns, like most of your top customers live in one neighborhood, or there is a clear trend in age groups that frequent your business.
When evaluating your clients, pay attention to key demographic categories such as age, location, gender, income level, occupation, and ethnic background. These are all factors that can help you tailor your marketing message.
Take advantage of any trends that you uncover in your analysis. Perhaps after discovering that a large number of your clients live in a certain area, you choose to create a direct mail piece that will be mailed out to that ZIP code. Maybe you will realize that the reason for most of your clients being in this area is the result of a promotion you ran there earlier, so you will run this same promotion in a different area. Once you start to pay attention, you will notice trends that can help you in your marketing efforts that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
Next, you can take your marketing efforts beyond demographic and geographic segmentation and start looking at psychographics. Psychographics are basically the motivations behind why people come to your business. These motivations can come from their personality, lifestyle, or interests.
For example, there are many reasons why someone may want to take a yoga class: Maybe they go primarily for the workout or benefit to their body, or maybe they go mostly to relax or to clear their mind; perhaps it’s to perform an activity with friends or to meet new people. When you uncover why your clients come to your business, you can incorporate these reasons into your marketing messages. One example could be, “Bring in a friend and receive a discount on your next class.”
Putting it All Together
Now that you have a picture of your current clients, you can formulate your target market. Put together all of the information that you have gathered, and use it to describe the typical person who would come into your business. For example, the yoga studio with the heated vinyasa flow classes may define their target market for females ages 22-30 who live within a 5-mile radius of the studio, and who keep up with urban trends and pop-culture.
Once you have defined your target market, make sure that you ask yourself a few questions. Are there enough people in this market to sustain my business? Can I reach them with my marketing efforts? Do I understand what drives these people to my business? Can my target market afford my services? If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” you will want to re-evaluate your definition of your target market.
After you have gathered initial information, don’t stop re-evaluating it. As time goes by, your clientele can change, and it is important that you always understand who your customers are and tailor your marketing message to them.