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Finding Your Target Market

Marketing and targeting your products and services to a specific area with a real need will prove beneficial and successful for your business.To learn your target market, you must conduct research in the area in which you plan to open your business. Ask yourself these four questions to begin your research.

Key phases of the target market research process (STP and Stakeholder Analysis model) that align with each question are in parenthesis:

• Who are your existing customers and potential customers? (Segmentation)

• How would you describe or profile your customers? (Target Market Identification)

• Where are your customers located to appropriately position your business? (Positioning)

• Are you offering the types of products and services customers want --- at the best place, at the best price, and in the right amounts? (Stakeholder Analysis) Now that you know the questions, actually conducting the research takes action.

A few methods to get you started include:

• Learn demographic information by conducting internet searches, connecting with economic development agencies and trade groups, and reviewing Census and Labor Department publications.

• View local maps using the internet to gain perspective of potential sites.

• Develop customer surveys.

• Get to know your competition.

Who is your target market?

Look at your current customer base.

Who are your current customers, and why do they buy from you? Look for common characteristics and interests. Which ones bring in the most business? It is very likely that other people like them could also benefit from your product/service.

Check out your competition.

Who are your competitors targeting? Who are their current customers? Don't go after the same market. You may find a niche market that they are overlooking.

Analyze your product/service.

Write out a list of each feature of your product or service. Next to each feature, list the benefits it provides (and the benefits of those benefits). For example, a graphic designer offers high-quality design services. The benefit is a professional company image. A professional image will attract more customers because they see the company as professional and trustworthy. So ultimately, the benefit of high-quality design is gaining more customers and making more money.

Once you have your benefits listed, make a list of people who have a need that your benefit fulfills. For example, a graphic designer could choose to target businesses interested in increasing their client base. While this is still too general, you now have a base to start from.

Choose specific demographics to target.

Figure out not only who has a need for your product or service, but also who is most likely to buy it. Think about the following factors:

  • Age

  • Location

  • Gender

  • Income level

  • Education level

  • Marital or family status

  • Occupation

  • Ethnic background

Consider the psychographics of your target.

Psychographics are the more personal characteristics of a person, including:

  • Personality

  • Attitudes

  • Values

  • Interests/hobbies

  • Lifestyles

  • Behavior

Determine how your product or service will fit into your target's lifestyle. How and when will your target use the product? What features are most appealing to your target? What media does your target turn to for information? Does your target read the newspaper, search online, or attend particular events?

Evaluate your decision.

Once you've decided on a target market, be sure to consider these questions:

  • Are there enough people who fit my criteria?

  • Will my target really benefit from my product/service? Will they see a need for it?

  • Do I understand what drives my target to make decisions?

  • Can they afford my product/service?

  • Can I reach them with my message? Are they easily accessible?

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