A while back I wrote on “The Art of Segmentation: Creating a Customer Profile,” which if you haven’t read yet, you should do only after reading how to first identify your target market. Regardless of whether or not you’re an established business, there are a couple reasons why it’s a good idea to first set in mind who your core audience is. It’ll help you define or redefine all stages of marketing, from concept, branding, and outreach. Essentially how you market is determined by who you market to.

So how do you figure out who your market is? First ask yourself these pivotal questions:

  1. Who do you believe your target market is vs. who you’d like to have as your target market?
  2. Where are they located?
  3. How are they best reached? Are you using the most efficient platform to reach them?
  4. How do you want them to feel about your brand?
  5. Who’s the competition? What sets you apart from them?
  6. Is your competition doing something you’re not?

Past buyers

If you’ve already reaped from the benefits of past sales, then you’ve got a great starting point. Take a look at those customer profiles to see what those buyers were like? Were they concentrated in one demographic? Did they purchase the same products? Did they come to you through the same channels? There’s as much benefit in their diversity as well as in their similarities. Starting off with past clients is a great jumping point.

Get to the Bottom Line

There are a dozen different markets you can tap into, but each one won’t give you the same rewards. They each have their own income bracket in terms of what those buyers can afford based on their financial value. Determining what kind of sales you want to hit per unit or in gross sales can help you weed out between different target markets.

Reverse Tracking

Just like a detective finds a culprit off the clues, so can you find your core audience by taking a few “reverse” steps. Using Google’s Keyword tools, you can determine which sites have keywords relevant to your business – and then start from there. Guy Levine and Richard Baxter pitched this idea at a Search Love Conference. The goal is sourcing your audience from competitor’s content and finding platforms your ideal audience will engage with. They followed it up with a precise seven step plan. There’s a bit of a science behind it but the post breaks it down beautifully, and with a little elbow grease there’s no reason you can’t apply it to your needs.

Go the Competitor Route

See what worked for your competitors. Is there a route they took that was favorable for them. Would the same apply to you if you followed their path? Factor in necessary variations to get an honest answer. For example, maybe their timing was right or they set up shop in the right zip code.

Dig Into Social Networks

Most people completely forget they have an entire network at their tips…their social network. There’s no reason you can’t tap into that to get feedback. These people already have a trusted relationship with you and are likely to invest their time into giving you advice and sharing their thoughts.

Once you have a better idea of your market, you’ll be able to execute a more strategic marketing plan to access them. The goal is to have your business grow and to set goals to exceed your brand value. That said, it’s important to re-evaluate your brand and target market every six months, at which time it’s recommended you reach higher and (if needed) wider.