How To Define Your Target Market

Cartoon of person fishing for target market

Many business owners, when asked who their target market is, tend to think big.

‘Everyone!’ They declare.

But trying to advertise to everyone is expensive, time consuming, and if you’re a small or startup business, downright impossible. And those are just a few of the reasons why you need to define your target market.

By not defining a target market, you end up wasting time and money advertising to customers who aren’t even interested in your business.

Instead, you need to think like a fisherman. What type of fish do you want to catch?

Cartoon of person fishing for their target market

It’s a lot easier to catch a mackerel if you know that’s what you’re fishing for. By knowing what you’re aiming for, you can begin to work out what bait you’re going to need.

Targeting a specific market doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re excluding others who may be interested in your brand. It just means that you’re focusing your money and marketing on a specific group that you know are more inclined to buy from you.

So ask yourself, ‘who is my target market?’ and ‘what bait do I need to lure them?’

Find your mackerel and bait your hook.

So How Do You Determine Your Target Market?

1. Look at Your Current Customer-Base

If you’ve been in business for a while, look at your current customer-base and try to find any characteristics or interests that they have in common. Look for patterns that may give you clues as to the kinds of people that are interested in your business.

You can even put out surveys to find out what categories your current market falls into:

– Age

– Gender

– Location

– Education Level

– Income

– Ethnic Background

– Values

– Lifestyles

– Hobbies

– Dietary Requirements

Find any common characteristics that tie the majority of your customers together.

2. Look to the Competition

If you haven’t been in business long, or even if you have, take a look at your competition (this is where social media can come in handy). Look for any common features in amongst their followers and client base.

Once you’ve found their target market, don’t copy them!

It would be unwise, particularly as a new business, to directly compete with an established company. They’ve got a massive head-start on you, and you’d be facing an uphill battle.

Instead, try to find any areas that your competition might be overlooking. Maybe you can find a niche where you can direct your attention without having to compete for customers.

Within your niche, you can safely incubate your startup business without having to battle for customers from the get-go. Don’t worry, you can always branch out and expand your customer base once you’re on your feet.

Going into an industry as a new business with the intention of bullying others out of your way is unlikely to go well for you. Think of the monumental and costly failure that was Masters vs Bunnings in Australia a few years back, and you’ll see what I mean.

By offering something unique, targeting an overlooked market, and simply not setting yourself up in direct competition with the industry juggernaut (I’m looking at you, Masters), you give yourself time, space and freedom to allow your business to flourish.

3. Write a Features and Benefits List

cartoon of business owner asking customers questions

The importance of a features and benefits list cannot be stressed enough. Not only can it give you an idea of what you can offer your target market, it can also help you define your target market.

Write a list of all the features of your product. Next to it, write down what benefits that feature offers the customer. You might want to check out this helpful infographic listing some of the most common benefits of buying a product. Now, think of people who are likely to have a need for that benefit.

For example, a clothing brand offers affordable children’s clothes with a free measurement and a buy one get one free offer.

This product would benefit potential customers in a number of ways:

– Saves money (discount offered)

– It helps them look after their loved ones by providing them with clothes that fit (free measurement)

– Saves time (free measurement means not having to try on dozens of sizes)

– Educates the customer (now the customer knows their child’s proper sizing)

– Get recognition from peers (well-dressed children will make you look good too).

So who is likely to benefit from this product? Likely time-strapped parents who want their children to look good without having to spend a fortune.


Now you have defined your target market!

So get out there and find out what kinds of people might be interested in your business. Then sell to them! It really is that simple.

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