How to Find Your Target Market

Written by Sarah on 13th February 2017

So you’ve got your new business idea, and you’ve set up some basic tools to help you get going. But before you go any further, ask yourself, do you have a target market?

Ideas are great but if you’re gonna make some money, you need someone to sell it to.

But how do you know who your target audience is?

Many businesses make the mistake of diving in without considering who their customers are. In today’s post, I’ll show you some of the other mistakes people make, and how to avoid them to find your target market.

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Identifying Your Target Market

1. Lack of research

I’ve already mentioned this step previously, but the biggest mistake is to not do any research in the first place.

Diving head first into sales and marketing is just asking for trouble. How will you decide on your marketing messages? Where will you promote your business?

While the motto with startups seems these days to be ‘fail fast’, you’re surely setting yourself up to fail at superspeed.

2. Your Target Market is Everyone

The next mistake that people make is to make their target audience too broad. ‘My product can help everyone’ you say. That’s great of course and could be absolutely true.

You might even throw out some examples of other companies out there who target everyone – Google, Facebook, Twitter for example.

You might also think that because your audience is so broad you’ll be raking in the cash.

You’d likely be wrong.

Each of those examples above started out with a much smaller target market. Facebook started out as a network for college students.

Why?

There’s a great quote from Susan Chritton that sums this up “Think about a game of darts: You have to aim in order to hit the board.”

Making your audience too broad stretches your resources and doesn’t give you the right direction in which your business should grow.

If your target customer is ‘everyone’, you’ll need to create a brand message that appeals to ‘everyone’. But then you’ll wind up with a message that’s too generic and bland.

Even if you break everyone into segments, you’ll have to create a new message for each one, stretching your time and budget. Far better to be focused and get the most out of your resources.

When it comes to adding new products, features or services, you’re making it harder still for yourself. Each demographic will require different things from your business, and you won’t be able to please everyone. (You can try but it’ll be exhausting). You’ll end up pulled around from customer to customer unable to keep everyone fully happy.

3. Your target market is too small

Instead of going too broad, sometimes business’ go too small when defining their target market.

It’s great to be able to identify a niche that’s perfect for you, but sometimes it could be too niche to sustain your business. You’ve essentially put a cap on how far your business can grow.

Could you expand the audience by adding another demographic element to it such as location, age, gender?

4. Not targeting the right people

Finally, you might have done some research and uncovered a great target market for your business. But it turns out you’re actually targeting people who won’t convert. Sure they’d be interested in your product or service, but for whatever reason, they’re not willing to convert, no matter what you do.

A great example I recently read from Alexis Rodrigo was of someone setting up a Virtual Assistant business for Work at Home Moms. Seems like a great idea, right? These Moms are busy running their business and looking after their children so of course could use the extra help from a VA.

The problem is these Moms don’t have the budget for a VA. They’d love the idea of having one, but right now it’s not something they’re willing to pay for.

In essence this person was setting themselves up for failure from the get go.

These 4 mistakes are actually very easy to make when starting out. You get excited at the prospect of unleashing your idea onto the world, and you want to rush ahead and get started without thinking properly.

It’s how many startups end up failing, unfortunately. Just taking them time to plan and research can actually save your business in the long run.

So how do we avoid those mistakes and properly define our target audience?

3 Steps to finding your target audience

1. Do your research

It was the biggest mistake we listed, so naturally, the first thing you do to is your research!

Start by thinking about what features your product or service has and the benefits they offer. Who has a need that your benefits could fulfill? List them and use those as your starting points.

Your competition is the perfect places to get some pointers. If they’re already successfully selling a product to a target market then you know they’re likely to buy from you, you just need to create some extra added value to encourage them to purchase from you and not your competitor.

2. Talk to people

In the world of the internet too often we rely on emails, and surveys to glean information from our customers. But the best way to find out who to target is to actually get out there and talk to people.

You need to make sure you’re asking the right questions too. As Rob Fitzpatrick explores in his book The Mom Test (more on that in a later blog post), asking people straight up about your business will get you the wrong responses. Using the Virtual Assistant idea from above, you could start by asking people how they’re currently managing their business. What tasks do they hate doing? Have they ever thought about outsourcing these tasks?

From those three questions, without letting them know that you’re in this business, you’ll know what kind of services you should offer as a VA, whether they’re likely to consider it, and if not, why.

3. Choose one primary market

Throughout your research and your conversations with potential customers, you might have identified a couple of different target audiences.

You now need to decide which one to target. Choose the one you think you’ll be able to help the most and the one that gives you enough room to grow.

This step is vital – as we mentioned above, targeting too many markets can be detrimental to your business.

And with these three simple steps, you’ll have a much more defined target audience. You’ll find that making decisions will be much easier to make for your business, and your business will grow quicker too.  So what are you waiting for?