The first job of any good entrepreneur is to determine their target market. In other words, discovering who their customer is. But it’s equally important to understand who your customer IS NOT.

As a marketing communications expert, always attempting to communicate on behalf of my clients, I have on occasion asked the question, “Who is your target customer?” and have received the reply (typically from clients with consumer products), “Everybody.”

Wrong, I want to scream.

But instead, I get out the proverbial shovel and begin digging to get the information I need from my client. After all, I need to know who their target audience is before I can begin communicating on their behalf. For most clients, finding their target market is a daunting task but it’s also at the heart of effective marketing. So, without meeting with you, I may not know who your customer is. However, from where I sit right now, I certainly know who your customer IS NOT.

Your customer is NOT “anyone who will buy”

Having a target market this large will lead to frustration. Plus, it makes putting together a marketing plan completely impossible. How can we decide where to spend the marketing budget when the audience is…everyone?  Divide that chunk of the audience into specific, smaller pieces. Easier to chew that way.

Your customer is NOT “everyone in the world”

It’s better to put a geographic constraint on your target market so you can find a more manageable audience to talk to. You may have a great product but are you really going to sell it overseas immediately? Try marketing in phases. Today, Chicago. Tomorrow, the Midwest. Next week, the coast. And so on.

Your customer is probably NOT “from age one to 100”

It’s the rare product that can appeal to both age groups. I don’t think they’ve started giving credit cards to babies yet, nor do many octogenarians spend all day glued to their cell phones. Define your target market by age. This helps determine which marketing channels to use, as well as the tone you use to communicate. Respect the generation gap and communicate accordingly.

Your customer is NOT both the “rich and poor

The price point of your product and services will play a role in defining this demographic. Not everyone can afford a $100 shirt. Then again, maybe nearly everyone can afford a $10 shirt, but would they want to buy it? The socioeconomic level of your audience is important because it will determine the access they have to different marketing channels, for example digital ads or cable television. This in turn will help you determine how to spend your marketing dollars.

Your customer is NOT everywhere

Strategic placement of your marketing message is key to reaching your audience. Think about the specific places your target audience moves, lives, goes for information and entertainment. Yes, we can access the internet from our pockets these days, but a strategic plan will arise in terms of other places your audience can be reached.

You may notice that the categories above reflect the five “p’s” of marketing which are product, price, promotion, place and people. Each one helps determine how you can best reach your target market, and what you need to say to turn them into customers. We can help you on your journey. If you need to determine your target market and write a strategic plan to reach them, Big Ideas Writing can help. Call us at 630-778-6182.