Any business worth its salt knows that, if you want to build a solid and profitable business, it’s crucial to identify a typical customer and create the perfect marketing pitch for them.
Broken down very simply, a target market generally consists of consumers who have similar characteristics (such as location, age, lifestyle and income) and are considered likely to be interested in a business’s product or service. However, in today’s increasingly crowded and complex market, if you keep things too simple, you’re likely to misunderstand your market.
When visualizing your market, you will need to make some generalizations, but you have to avoid stereotyping. Not only will it fail to attract consumers, but it could also fall foul of the Advertising Standards Authority, which monitors adverts to make sure they aren’t harmful, irresponsible or offensive and is currently cracking down on gender stereotypes. So how can you target enough customers to make your marketing a success, without falling into generalizations? Here are five common customer targeting mistakes you need to avoid.
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Targeting people who are unable to buy from you
Targeting customers who are either unwilling or unable to buy from you is a rookie marketing error, but one that is often made. If someone doesn’t have the money to buy from you, then you can market to them as hard as you like but no purchases will be made. A good example of this is marketing to children and younger teenagers; whilst they do have ‘pester power’ they aren’t the ones with the money, so your marketing will still have to appeal to parents as well.
Before you roll out your marketing or advertising, ask yourself whether the people you are targeting have the cold hard cash to actually make a purchase. If they don’t, it’s time for a rethink before you spend all of your money reaching out to people who won’t be spending theirs.
Targeting a market that is too small
Having a specific market is very important, but if you get too specific you’ll be left with a very small population of leads and prospects. If you’re selling a niche product at a high price, this could make sense, but otherwise you’re just limiting potential. A very small target market plus competition with other companies means that your market will get saturated quickly, translating into restricted sales opportunities.
So how can you identify new opportunities to widen your target market? You need to think creatively about who your product could appeal to and how you can reach those people. It’s easy to get stuck in some very narrow assumptions about who you think your audience is and then refuse to step outside the box and appeal to a new market. Use hard data, such as market research, surveys and online analytics, to reassess current and potential customers and figure out how to widen your market.
Targeting a market that is too vague
Of course, at the other end of the scale is a market that is so big and vague that it ends up not being a target at all. The pot of gold that lies at the end of every marketer’s rainbow is the ability to appeal to absolutely everyone, but, just like the pot of gold, it doesn’t exist. When you try to create a marketing message that communicates with absolutely everyone, it’s going to end up communicating with no one, simply because it’s far too broad.
Say, for example, you decided that your target market is “women”. It’s a good place to start, but not specific enough as there are a million different types of women in the world. Break your target market down into further segments by thinking in terms of demographics, such as age, geographical location, occupation, marital status, education, industry and so on. Google Analytics is a great place to find details on your customer demographics. If you have built the website for your business using an online store builder, you will also have a wealth of further information available, such as behavior reports, marketing reports, and sales reports. Making use of this raft information will allow you to target a market that is precise, not vague.
Neglecting psychographic profiles in favor of demographics
However, really good targeting goes a step further than demographics, into the world of psychographic segmentation, which categorizes customers by personality, values, interests, lifestyle and other factors. This is a very powerful way of marketing the same product or service to people from otherwise very different demographics. Understanding these different types of market segmentation can be understood by looking at a customer example:
- Aged 28-34
- Co-habiting, no children
- Income $75k-$95k
- Concerned with health and appearance
- Does Pilates every day
- Believes in contributing to society
- Values time with family and close friends
Psychographic information is a sophisticated, intuitive and often highly accurate method of understanding your customers and will enable you to craft your marketing messages in a way that will appeal much more directly than only using traditional demographics.
Relying on segmentation instead of personalization
Psychographic segmentation offers an incredibly insight into your market, but it’s a mistake to stop there when you have the information to hand to go a step further with your targeting into the land of personalization. Personalization involves optimizing experiences and messages to individuals, rather than the group they belong to, and is increasingly important: a survey by the Boston Consulting Group found that companies fully invested in personalization will outsell their competitors by 30% in 2018.
Thanks to the abundance of data we now have on consumer buying habits, and the analytics available to make sense of it, it’s becoming much easier to personalize the customer experience on an individual level. For example, if you are running a restaurant booking site, a personalized experience won’t just factor in geographical location but would take into account previous customer interactions and make suggestions based on type of food, price, dietary requirements and more. Already brands like Kinn, Away, and Rails are taking advantage of the potentials of personalization. If you ignore its benefits you do so at your peril.
To succeed in a tough market and keep your business growing, you need to know your customers on a demographic, psychographic and personal level. Consider your current target market and ask yourself if you’re making any of these common mistakes. With a close look at your customer data and a little bit of creative thinking, you can undo any errors and transform your marketing campaigns.
About The Author
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on ecommerce and how companies can improve the way they represent their brand. She is passionate about using her experience to help brands improve their reach.