When you are not sure where to start marketing or how to market, a key focus area to learn first is knowing who your target market is. Understanding your target market will help define your message, your advertisement designs, and the geography you choose to market in and around. Local businesses generally do not have the luxury of focus groups or hiring large companies to perform this function and pay for the data. What data can you rely on, then, if you don’t have the resources in being able to hire a large company to do consumer research?
The role of this type of research is to help identify your target market. It can be quite costly to market to an audience that is indifferent to your product or service, just like it can be very expensive to create a product nobody wants. If you aren’t getting sales then you might think that nobody wants your product or service, but it could be that you are targeting the wrong audience.
Sample Case Study – Imagine you just created a line of markers which are washable (this product does exist by the way,) and you are starting your marketing campaign. You don’t have a good grip on who would purchase this product, or maybe you simply haven’t thought about this problem yet. Turns out, the key purchaser of this product is going to be typically women with children. A quick internet search would tell you the average age of first-time mothers in the US is 26, according to this Forbes article, and a couple more Google searches show a good age for children to begin using these type of markers is about three. Some quick math would say the target market for this product would be 29, with some variance, so 25-35 would be the ideal age. What kind of message resonates with this age group? What media do they consume? What causes them to be influenced by media in making a buying decision? These are the questions you’ll need to ask yourself when you begin your marketing campaign.
How Do I Do This on a Budget?
So, we’ve ruled out focus groups and consumer research companies, but what data do you have available? Most companies that have been in business at least a couple of years have started compiling this data and may not know where to find it. If you are just starting out your business, you can do a visual, if possible, of a competitor and see what this may look like. Yes, finding a competitor and visiting their location would do wonders in helping with this – don’t count this out – even if your company has been around for a while. If your business has been around a bit, this data may help you. Some of the data mentioned below not only curates age, gender, and geography, but it also speaks to interests and other key demographic pieces of information.
1. Collect Customer Information
- Addresses – the information on zip codes of your current (paying,) customers will give you an idea of where they are really coming from (no guessing here.)
- Age, gender, education, or other relevant demographics – maybe you can’t get this information, but if you do, it certainly can be helpful.
- Email addresses – you can run some split email campaigns to different groups of people and see which message they respond to better. If the email addresses come from your existing customers, you can test messages to see which message produces better results. You could also send out customer surveys to get more information.
2. Social Media Channels
- Major social media channels will give you an idea on who your fans/followers are. On your business page you can access a breakdown of age, gender, and geography. Some platforms to look into include:
3. Track Your Website Visitors
- Keeping updated on knowing who your visitors are and the pages they are going to can give you a better idea of what you need to focus more on.
- There are many different tools to track your website visitors, but Louvre Media is partial to Google Analytics.
4. How Else Can you Collect Consumer Data?
- If you are retail/restaurant, when people come in, ask them to map where they were just prior to coming in and where they live (have two different map boards for this.)
- Scope out competitors (referenced lightly above and worth repeating)
- Online research – there is so much information out on the internet sometimes just Googling the question will help.
- Asking family, friends, and business associates may be good to consider, but they also may be inclined to tell you what they think you want to hear – be careful here.
So I Know My Target Audience, Now What?
Finalizing where you market (what geography you are targeting or what media you are utilizing,) and your message (content, offers, creatives,) are the next keys. These can be somewhat different depending on your business type, so many factors need to be considered. If your target market is young adults 18-24, advertising in the phone book would most likely be a waste of your hard-earned dollars. Many of them don’t use phone books for reference, so advertising to them there wouldn’t make any sense.
Target Market – Geography
If 90% of your business comes from a 3-mile radius, targeting much further may not work well, though this certainly can be tested to see if you can change consumer behavior. This is especially true for retail/restaurants where the consumer comes to you. Consumers get into driving patterns and shopping habits, and trying to change those is not easy.
If you are a service business and you go to your customers homes, you may want to market outside of your current customer base in one specific direction. The service vehicles, if they are wrapped with the company logo, create a billboard on wheels and generate some good branding. If these vehicles are too spread out it will lessen some of the benefits of the branding, people need to see a message multiple times. We recommend service companies expand their territory like a ripple effect – ripple out from the center and as it grows, they can go out a bit further. Do not spread yourselves to thin.
Target Message – Content, Offers, and Creative
We mentioned this a bit earlier, but it is worth another review. Your business message will consist of multiple pieces. You want to have the creative connect with the consumer you are targeting, but the information and (potential) offers will need to create results. If you are running offers or coupons, here are some things to think about:
- Price too low – This may make the consumer devalue your product or service. You may also encourage consumers to wait for a deal again in the future and train them to look for deals.
- Price too high – This may make them think about the money they are spending. If an offer is $500 off, how much will it cost to purchase the item? Especially if they have no idea of what the full price cost may be.
- Frequency – You may be training your customers to look for your coupons before purchasing in the future, and this could take away from sales down the road. You may also be telling people you are overpriced normally, and we know it takes a coupon to get you to come in. With email marketing there is a science to this, including trial and error with your specific customers. The expiration date, specifically a short expiration date, may drive the immediate traffic you want. Most grocery stores run weekly specials to get you to come in weekly and to take advantage of the sale items in hopes you also purchase additional items at regular pricing. You must believe they wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t know it worked in the long run.
These are things our team talks about on a regular basis. If you would like to find out more about your target market, understanding the right message for you customer, and the best way to deliver your message to your ideal customer, let’s have a conversation and see if we can help you in improving your marketing!