5 Steps to Choosing Your Target Market

by Brooke Ness
May 24, 2017

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the best ways to talk to your target market, but we need to take a step back and talk about defining that target market. It seems simple.

Isn’t a local body shop’s target market anyone who drives a car? Nope. While they’re willing to serve anyone who has a car, their target market could be owners of Japanese branded cars that are out of warranty.

For restaurants, going from anyone who can eat to diners who are looking for a go-to date night restaurant can have a huge effect on their marketing and their bottom line.

So how do you pick that target market? There are a few key questions to start with:

1. Whose problems are you solving?

Look at your business and what problems you solve. Go back to the old school features and benefits that you list out in basic business plans. Take a look at the benefits and determine who they serve the most. Is the benefit of your business that you close custody cases fast? Then your target market is likely to be divorced moms with kids. Or is the benefit of your business that you’re a one stop shop for all dental work? Then look at busy professionals who don’t have time to run around to multiple specialists.

2. What makes you unique? Who’s going to appreciate that?

Now, what makes you special? This is key for local businesses where location is often the make or break for companies that are just the closest grocery store, restaurant, doctors office, etc. Do you have the best choice of organic produce? Or are you the only kid-free restaurant in the city? Find something that makes you stand out from the crowd and then figure out who is going to care about it.

In our organic produce example, that leads to a target market of health conscious, high-income earners. While the kid-free restaurant, can lend itself to two different markets, couples without kids OR couples with kids who want to get away for the night.

3. Who are your best current customers?

The best place to look for your target market is with your best customers. What makes them different? Look for patterns in age, gender, job titles, company size, lifestyle, the car they own, etc. Anything that they have in common will be critical in determining what your target market looks like

4. Who are your competitors targeting? Don’t choose the same one.

It seems counterintuitive. Typically we hear business owners talking about stealing customers from their competitors, but that’s not your best strategy. You are better off finding an untapped market vs. stealing market share.

If your HVAC competitor is working with long established customers, why not target brand new home owners? Or specialize in rental managed by remote landlords? It is easier to tap into a new market than to try and break the loyalty to an existing competitor

5. Who is most able to make a purchase with you?

This should be obvious, but it’s often overlooked in today’s world of marketing to millennials (heck, we’re at Gen Z marketing these days.) While marketing to the elusive millennial may seem like the newest marketing trend, it doesn’t make sense for a lot of business owners. Estate and trust law firms may get a cult following of 25-year-olds, but they aren’t going to bring in any more billable hours. Figure out who makes purchase decisions about your product and focus there. Otherwise, you could be going viral with zero effect on your bottom line.


It’s going to take some time to narrow your target market down, but that’s ok! Start with these questions, give targeting that group of customers a try for a few months. They great thing about marketing and especially digital marketing is that it’s not fixed. If you find out that the market you thought you served best isn’t working for your business, change it up. We’re not writing marketing plans in stone – they are as flexible as you need them to be.


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