Targeting in marketing is extremely important – probably the most important thing about marketing. If you are trying to talk to and please everyone, you won’t actually make a connection with anyone. And making a connection is the most important part of marketing. A message that is vague or generic will most likely be ignored.
To help bring this into an everyday context, think about the last party or large event you attended.
Maybe you were trying to make friends or networking connections. You probably walked up to one person who looked like fun, or a small group of people who seemed to be talking about something you were interested in, and joined their conversation. Or maybe you asked someone a question about something they were wearing or something they were eating. From that organic connection, a conversation was able to grow and both parties could benefit. You found common ground.
You didn’t shout a question to the room in general to see who would answer. Targeted marketing is the same way.
WHAT IS TARGETED MARKETING?
The idea of targeted marketing is to identify a large market and break it into smaller pieces. You want to concentrate on one segment, based on who they are and what they want. This smaller segment is your target market.
A teenage boy in high school is interested in very different things than a 62 year old retired woman. It is true, they may have a few things in common, but even those things will be for different reasons. You target your marketing because differences in interests and reason leads to differences in choice.
You will want to segment your audience by characteristics that determine the things they need and want, like:
- Age range (kids, teenagers, 20-30s, 40s-50s, 60+)
- Education level
- Family (marital status, if they have kids, if they have grandkids)
- Race and ethnicity
- Religion, or lack thereof
After that, you may want to focus on more lifestyle-related characteristics, like:
- Their inherent values and beliefs (politics may come into play here)
- Their interests and habits (what they do in their free time)
- Their professional or industry of choice
- Their geographic area
Understanding who your audience is allows you to focus on a specific group of people who will be most likely to need or want what you’re selling.
WHY does Targeted Marketing MATTER?
You may be thinking “well, if my message applies to a large swath of people, I have a better chance of attracting more people.”
Think about playing darts. If you throw 10 darts at the board at once, you have a 1 in 10 chance of hitting a bullseye (generally speaking, I’m not a statistician!) But you waste a ton of darts in the process.
On the other hand, if you take your time, practice, and focus on the way you throw the dart and where it’s supposed to go, you can throw one dart at a time and hit a bullseye much more often.
Crafting a marketing message requires the same level of time, practice, and focus to reach and resonate with an individual.
If you create a message that is vague and indirect, in the hopes of appealing to as many people as possible, most will lose interest. This is because they do not feel like the message applies to what they need, want, or believe in.
Take the Shea Moisture ad incident from 2017. A brand whose main demographic was black, curly-haired women (because their product most benefited black, curly-haired women) saw that white women were not buying their product. They tried to be “inclusive” by including more white women in their ads to garner more sales. As a result, many black women felt ignored and that the brand was erasing “the loyal demographic who supported the brand from day one: Black women with curly, kinky and tightly coiled hair.”
Adding more kinds of people in your messaging doesn’t mean more kinds of people will buy. But the right kind of person in your messaging means that the right kind of person will buy.
Targeted Marketing Saves You Money
Having a smaller audience of people who are perfect for your product or service is better than risking/wasting resources to achieve a larger, less-perfect audience.
Say you’re creating a Facebook ad to sell purses. You know, from doing a bit of research, that the people who already buy your purses most are:
- In their late 20s-early 30s
- Who live in urban areas
But you don’t want to exclude teenagers – maybe they can get their parents to buy one?
Which means you shouldn’t exclude older women – maybe they want to purchase a purse as a gift for their daughters and granddaughters.
That also means that men should be included so they can get the purse as a gift for their wives or daughters.
And we shouldn’t just target Latina women, right? It’s that discriminatory?
And maybe a woman might be on vacation or have just moved to a more rural area; we want the ads to show up no matter where she is!
So now your audience is:
- Men over 30
- Women from 14 to 65
- Of all backgrounds
- Of all ages ages
- In urban and rural all areas
You’ll have to pay quite a bit more for this larger audience. Even though plenty of men like purses, the likelihood that a man would click on an ad for a purse is much, much lower than a woman. And if your purse costs $1,000, the likelihood that a person who makes $50,000 per year would click is much higher than a high school student.
Why would you pay more money, to reach more people, when you already know the type of people who have already expressed interest in your product?
What market is your market?
Take a look at the people who have already been buying your product or service. Who follows you on social media already? What kind of people have been signing up for your email list? When you look at your existing audience, trends and patterns will begin to emerge.
From this information, you can build a Buyer Persona. This is a model of a fictional person who represents an amalgam of your best clients or customers. They contain all the characteristics of the people who are most likely to buy from you.
Your Buyer Persona should include:
- A name! This will help you to really imagine this as a real person with agency
- Age range You can stick to decades or even titles like Millenial or Gen X
- Gender Are they “stereotypically female” or “stereotypically male”? Gender isn’t just one thing.
- Income You want an idea of how much disposable income they have – money can determine a lot about someone’s priorities.
- Geographic location What area do they live in? Is it the same as the area they shop, work, or go to school in?
- Family structure Are they married? Do they have kids? Pets?
- Education Similar to money and location, education level can determine interesting things about someone’s priorities and interests
- Their goals and challenges Are they dealing with an illness? Are they preparing to run a marathon? Are they about to have their first baby? What problems or goals do they currently have that you can help with?
- Past buying decisions and habits Do they favor a certain store or do they only shop online? Do they splurge on sales or cut coupons?
How to Research Your Audience
Maybe you don’t have a pool of people to look at yet to determine who your target market should be. That’s okay
My first tip is to always look at your competitors. Who is out there, providing a similar product or service to you? Look at the type of people being represented in their ads/website. Read their product/service reviews. Take a look at their social media following. While you always want to differentiate yourself from the competition and you may have something they don’t, this is a great place to start.
WHAT BENEFITS DOES TARGETED MARKETING BRING?
Get Leads Who Will Actually Buy
When you’re speaking directly to the people who need and want what you need the most, they feel heard. When that happens, a connection is made. This connection means warmer leads and a higher likelihood of actually making a sale.
If you market to someone who thinks that maybe sorta you seem like a good fit, that isn’t a high-quality, qualified lead and that won’t turn into a paying customer.
Good targeted marketing means that the traffic to your ads or website is more likely to turn into a sale. It’s as simple as that.
Create a Differentiation from the Competition
Once you connect to your ideal client, they are more likely to believe that YOU are the one who can meet their specific need. It will make you stand out from the pack. If the client or customer feels heard and catered to, they will be more likely to choose you or remember you. You’ll seem more unique and more special, as opposed to companies with generic and vague marketing.
Create Repeat Customers
We are creatures of habit. Most people find a brand that they like and stick with it. If they are getting exactly what they want and need from that brand, why change? If you are consistently meeting the needs of your ideal clients and customers, they will come to you first everytime they need what you sell.
Very rarely does a brand provide the same thing forever. We want to be able to grow; provide new and improved services as the industry changes. When you have a deep understanding of your target audience and what htey need, you can anticipate more of what they need. You can learn what features or services to add, where you can improve, and how to meet their growing needs.
Many thanks to Dave Shrein for his help and advisement in writing this post! Check out what he does here.
have questions about your marketing?
There is no one simple easy answer when it comes to finding your perfect target market. All companies and brands are different. But there are some tried and true ideas that can get you started on your journey.