How to Define Your Target Market & Make Them Love You

target market

Get a grip on your marketing vision: Figure out who your ideal customers are and focus your marketing efforts on them.

I’m sure you’ve heard some variation on the old adage: When you try to be everything to everyone, you end up being nothing to no one.

And although sayings like this are often repeated, the true wisdom behind it may not be given the appreciation it’s due. Because if everyone knows it, why are so many small business owners still trying to appeal to the faceless masses instead of focusing on pairing their products with the right customers?

Being more pointed with your marketing efforts isn’t just about saving money. It’s the best way to give your business a solid foundation of steady customers so that you can ensure sustained growth.

Sure, we’d all love to turn every person into a customer. But when a small business is just starting out, marketing budgets can be thin, and most owners would benefit much more from speaking directly to a clearly defined target market.

So how do you do that? You’ve already created an amazing product, so turn your attention outward to figure out what your customers look like and the best way to speak to them.

Identify Your Early Adopters

target market

The main focus of any new marketing plan should be identifying early adapters of your products.

Word of mouth marketing is created by the early adopters – those cool kids who saw the benefit of your products before anyone else did. These customers will become the loyal regulars who tout your benefits to anyone who will listen,and are the first customers who matter. But how do you find them?

Let’s take it back to fifth grade and have a brainstorming session (idea trees not required). Before you try to cast the widest marketing net possible, take a moment to conceptualize the exact customer you are trying to reach.

When you’re thinking of the type of customer who should be the focus of your marketing efforts, ask yourself a few questions to help you both narrow and expand your vision – and don’t forget to include corporate clients:

  • What type of person can use my products right now? Think about the customers who are always going to need your products, and focus your efforts on them first.
  • What do they look like? Where do they live? Where do they work? Compose an outline of what your most common customer looks like. Include interests, age range, and social media habits.
  • What about corporate clients? What type of industry would you call an obvious fit for your products? This includes considering the supply chain and all the back-end uses your product could provide, no matter how far-fetched.
  • Where are similar products found? Identify markets where products similar to yours are in demand – these are your ready made sales grounds.

Speak Their Language

Now that you know what your target market looks like, consider both why your product matters to them and how to speak to them.

Is it a productivity enhancement? It is a lifestyle perk? Specifically, what makes your ideal customer value your product? Maybe you’ve created an attachment to an already popular product, or you’ve improved upon an old design. Whatever it is, locate the most valuable part of your products in order to communicate more effectively with your target market.

Next, learn to speak their language.

Let’s say you run a bicycle shop in an urban area. Instead of chasing down bikers on their way to work to hand out flyers, consider biking groups and clubs as your early adapters. The people who have an affinity for the type of products you sell will be the first to recognize the value. And if you’re just starting out, the best way to find these clubs will be online.

Start with Facebook and Twitter. Do a search for bicycle clubs or meetups in your area and you’ll start to get an idea of the local marketplace. This is also a great segue to creating promoted posts on Facebook, which you can target directly to people who are either interested in biking or part of a local biking club.

Whatever your product is, by focusing your initial efforts on a smaller but more precise section of the population, you’ll be doing wonders for the longevity of your business. Sure, it would be nice to have buckets of sales overnight, but the most realistic way to grow your business is to concentrate on your ideal customers, and grow your visibility from there. Once you’ve captured the trust of your target market, it won’t be long until outsiders begin to venture toward your business.

Bring On The Love

Remember: Chain stores push products. Small business owners provide solutions.

Framing your marketing message in terms of how your products can enhance a customer’s life will allow you to make an emotional connection with your target market. You aren’t here to be everything to everyone. You’re here to provide a quality product to the person who wants it most.

How do you identify your target market? Share your thoughts below!

About the Author

April Atwood

April is a freelance writer who combines her marketing and writing experience with a love for supporting small businesses. She writes, bikes, and uses a coffee press, but not in the pretentious way.


  1. Azizul Yusof says

    A better results from Marketing can be achieve if a Business (any size) knows who is the Audience, do the Segmentation and finally do the Targeting.

    No matter what channel you are going to use, always start with the above.

  2. says

    Small business owners are able to focus on their clients but what happens if it’s not your passion? It better be. Find a way to channel your passion and make sure clients know it is. I find that price doesn’t matter when a personal relationship with respect becomes the primary driver of why clients come back. Stay passionate about about your business, your client relationships will endure through good times and bad.

    • April Atwood says

      Great comment! It’s easy to focus on the aspects of business you love, and let the tedious ones go by the wayside. I think if you remain passionate about the success of your business, it’s easier to see small jobs like market research as an extension of that.

  3. says

    Identifying your target market and focusing on it is the key to success for any business. I always like to say what you decide NOT to do is more important than what you DO decide to do. Target market helps you decide who NOT to sell your product to.

    • April Atwood says

      Thank you for your comment and I completely agree! Sometimes it’s difficult to hone in on who your ideal audience is. But identifying who your audience isn’t can sometimes be a better place to start.

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