Your Target Market - Know Who You're Aiming at for Miraculously Better Results
It's an unfortunate, but true fact that a large percentage of home businesses fail. The sadder fast is that even more online businesses fail, but many of these failures could easily be prevented.
The startling thing is that most online business hopefuls DO NOT do ANY target market research prior to launching their online businesses. They are given the advice you hear everywhere that "You should build a website on what you know," or simply, "Take your passion and make it your business."
That's just a crying shame because although we agree that you should love your business, not all of our passions, hobbies, etc. will translate into a profitable business.
Fortuntely, you are WAY ahead of the game because you are going through this training here and you are taking the steps you need to define your profitable target market.
But Let's Back up. What is a Target Market?
Target Market: Your target market is your ideal customer in the specific segment of the population you attempt to reach through your marketing efforts.
Unless you've got a million-dollar budget (and if you do, what are you messing around with the Internet Based Family website builder for anyway...hehehe), you need to get really specific. Marketing yourself to the mass market is expensive and better left to the likes of Walmart, Amazon and other Dot Com Giants.
Getting Specific about Your Target Market
When you create any marketing materials, you should be able to imagine your ideal customer sitting in front of you and you should be able to speak directly to the needs of that ideal customer.
This might mean pinpointing their gender, income, education level, geographic location, interests, dreams and desires, problems they want to overcome and so on. The more specific you get, the easier it is to find and market to your "target visitor".
Other reasons you want to get very specific in who your target market is:
1. As we already mentioned, big businesses attempt to reach a general population (ex. eBay, Amazon, MSN, etc.). Try using big business tactics on a small business budget and you'll have too much competition that will outspend you any day.
2. You will have an easier time getting your website to stand out from the crowd. What will make your website different from the rest? It's easier to craft a Unique Selling Position (USP) when you have a clear picture in your mind as to who your market is.
3. You'll develop stronger customer relationships by targeting the needs of a specialized group. For example, if you're target market is helping divorced women who want to get into the dating scene again and you provide them with good advice and guidance, they are likely to come to you and recommend you to others. By concentrating on your specific target market, you can put all your energy and funds into fully serving that market.
4. With a general focus, your website content and advertising will have to appeal to a wide variety of visitors and this can be a difficult, time consuming and expensive task. If you target your market, it is much easier to define the needs and desires of your potential customers and to target them in your copy and advertising.
Some Ideas to Start Defining Your Target Market:
1. If you already have customers, then analzye that data. Specifically what type of person is buying your product?
2. Make a list of the benefits of your product. By benefits, we don't mean the features of your product. Features are the basic characteristics of your produce, while benefits explain what desired result those features can bring. For example, some benefits might be:
- Save time
- Make you look younger
- Make you smarter
- Reduce spots on dishes
Making a list of benefits will help you determine who your target customer is.
Through this exercise, you may find that you have a couple of different profiles or markets. That's okay. Doing targeted business online is inexpensive. You can create websites to target as many different markets online as you'd like.
Market Research Tools
There are plenty of tools on the Internet and off that can help you find a profitable target market. Here are a few to help you get started.
Keyword Research Tools: There a variety of keyword research tools available on the Internet that provide you with data on the types of things people are searching for at various search engines.
- WordTracker is a huge database of keywords that people are searching for on search engines. There is a free trial, so take advantage and the paid version is well worthwhile.
Just enter the general topic you are thinking about...for example: "gardening" and see what comes up. You can click on each phrase to dig deeper and see what people really want to know about. WordTracker also has a thesaurus, so you can search related phrases. This will give you an idea of what topics people really want information on.
- Google Keyword Planner (formerly Google Keyword Tool) also gives you ideas on what people are searching for at Google specifically. You can enter a single word and it will give you more specific phrases to help you target your results more. You can also choose to have it show you synonyms, so you can broaden your results. You will need to create a Google Adwords account to use the Keyword Planner. From there you will access the Planner under the Tools and Analysis drop-down menu.
Keyword Research Tips: When conducting market research, be sure to look for terms that would indicate people BUYING product in addition to looking for information.
For example, if you want to start a website about horseback riding, keywords like:
horseback riding techniques
horseback riding injuries
…seem to indicate searches for INFORMATION, while terms like:
horseback riding vacation
horseback riding apparel
seem to indicate an interest in shopping. You’ll want a nice combination of both.
Magazines as Market Research: If there’s a magazine dedicated to a certain subject or target market, there is likely a market to sell products here. Magazines are fueled by advertising sales and if people are buying advertising, they are likely selling well to this market. Take a look at the magazines and try to see what is selling well to these markets.
You can look at your local bookstore or quickly and easily search a site like magazines.com.
Discussion Groups: It's a very social Internet out there these days and discussion type websites are an amazing source of market research information. People talk about what problems they need help with, what products they like, what they hate and more. If you have a specific target market in mind, find out where they hang out online and start reading what they have to say.
There are so many websites you can potentially research, but here a few that might help you get started:
- Yahoo Groups and Facebook Groups: These are groups where people with common interests get together to chat. Some discussions are online, via email, etc. In many cases you'll need an account and/or be registered for a group to see the discussion details.
- Yahoo Answers: This is a places where people can submit questions that they need answers to. This a great resource for finding the problems your target market might be facing.
- Message Boards, Blogs, Podcasts: Wherever people get together to share opinions, you can find information to help you in your research. The links here bring you to directories where you can search for the websites you're looking for.
Research Your Competition: Before jumping in with both feet, check what other products are being offered to your potential target market. See what types of products they are selling, what type of information they provide their potential customers and get an overall picture of what is being done out there already.
Word of warning: If you find a target market and don't see anyone selling products to that market, keep doing some research. It is possible that many people have already tried to sell to your market and have failed. You don't need to be the first to find a new market to sell to them. It is much easier to move into a proven market, differentiate yourself and get your chunk of the sales.
Now that you have defined the target market you wish to sell to, it's time to decide on a business model for your online business. In our next tutorial, you'll discover some of the perks of choosing a particular business model.
Click here to learn more about Online Business Models in Part 2 of our online business training.