Be Specific! Defining Your Target Market

The role of defining your target market is to focus and refine your marketing efforts. As the old saying goes, if you try to be everything to everyone, you will end up being nothing to everyone. But some target market definitions are more effective than others.

In the Mad Men years, it used to be enough to say your products or services were targeted to women aged 35 to 54. Now we must ask, “Which ones?” Are those the women who still have children in the home vs. the empty nesters? Are they your current customers or prospects – or even lost customers? Are they heavy or light users of your category? Or are they the ones who behave a certain way, such as avid gardeners, or endurance athletes?

The more specificity you can inject into your target market definition, the more guidance you will get for your marketing. Understanding the characteristics of your target audience can guide the language you use in your messaging, your media choices, your distribution channels, and of course, your pricing structure.

Consider these generational differences (from consulting firm KPCB’s Mary Meeker):

Clearly, your approach to marketing to each of these generational groups would be different based on your category. Selling financial services, real estate, or travel to the Silent Generation, the Boomers, and Gen X are very different. And that is true for nearly every category. But there are some similarities within generations.

Let’s use everyone’s darling target market – the Millennials as an example. In general, what must you keep in mind when marketing to Millennials? According to Nick Sims of Edge Insights, here are some things you need to consider:

  • Socially conscious. Millennials favor brands with strong social values. In fact, 69% of Millennials want businesses to engage in social justice issues. Think Tom’s Shoes and Bombas.  Pick a cause and go for it.
  • Mobile marketing. 85% of U.S. Millennials own smartphones and almost half of 18 – 34-year-olds have downloaded a mobile shopping app. Clearly, this is the way to go for marketing to Millennials.
  • Authenticity and Accountability. Millennials, authentic and accountable brands means dealing with brand issues head-on. If you screw up, they will let you know on social media. Deal with it – fast. Forget the hard sell – it won’t work with this group. But influencer marketing may be a very effective strategy.
  • Social Media. Not every social media platform works with every generation, so make sure you’re using what they’re using. And don’t forget to encourage user-generated content!

Looking at your target market generationally is a good first step, but consider that each of these generations include 70 million consumers or more. There is certainly additional segmentation and definition that should be completed to make your marketing optimally efficient and effective. And don’t forget that all these generations are aging and changing as we speak – nothing lasts forever. But the good news is also that new generations are constantly being born as well. Generation SpongeBob, anyone?

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