No matter what industry you’re in, identifying your target market is the most critical step in planning a successful campaign. Content marketing is no exception.
Note that this does not mean making assumptions about the people you want to reach—but rather, doing in-depth research to find out who they are, where they’re from, and how they behave. Choosing the right target market means narrowing down your audience to a group of people with similar characteristics, shared traits, and even niche hobbies and interests.
Besides, not all brands can afford to target EVERYONE. And—even if you do have the resources to market your brand to the general public, you probably shouldn’t. Not only will this dilute your message for the sake of making it universally relatable, it will also hinder you from building strong connections with those who are most in need of your products or services.
While some brands may argue that marketing to a large audience is the best way to reach the most number of potential customers, there’s proof that this traditional shotgun approach is no longer as effective as it was in reaching the right people. Even the Super Bowl is seeing dwindling TV reach each year as viewers turn to different platforms to watch it! In short, blasting your message to an audience with diverse tastes, lifestyles, and priorities simply won’t work.
Okay, but what does this mean for those who do not have the marketing budget of the Super Bowl?
For brands with limited marketing budget, it is important that your message reaches a well-defined target market in the most cost-efficient way possible.
Trying to reach a wide audience with a single message is often a waste of your time, money, and energy. In fact, small brands can compete better with large companies by targeting a niche market. Take for example some of the most successful companies today:
Under Armour started by marketing compression shirts to a small group of football players.
Amazon initially targeted book buyers who were comfortable buying their books online.
Facebook started out as a social networking site for Harvard students, and from there expanded to different universities.
As their brands grew and new markets started showing interest, their campaigns also targeted new audiences.
Why does choosing the right target market work? There are two main reasons.
#1 A clear target market points you to an audience that’s already looking for what you have to offer. You’ll know what group to speak to, what publications to write for, and which influential people to reach out to. In short, you’ll know where to find potential clients or customers and where you should be if you want to be found.
#2 You can better tailor your message to make it more compelling if you know your audience. In fact, you can make your message so powerful that you build a community that will spread your message for you. It doesn’t matter how small or specific your target market is. Better a small group of advocates than a large group that doesn’t care.
Addressing the challenge
Target marketing allows you to focus your resources on a specific market that has the strongest potential to purchase your product or avail of your services. Still, the challenge of determining the right target market for a campaign have left marketers lost and perplexed. The main concern is more or less the same: How can I choose a specific target market if my product has the potential to appeal to a larger group of people?
This is a valid concern, as most businesses can indeed service more than one type of customer, or sell products useful to a wide demographic. However, it is important to understand that targeting a specific market is not about excluding people who do not fit your ideal criteria. Rather, it means choosing a market segment to focus your current resources on—and to grow with.
Thinking long term
When you have mastered how to communicate with your initial target market, you’ll eventually have to expand your reach by identifying key audiences from different market segments.
Once you get positive results from a particular campaign that is targeted to one of your key audiences, it will be easier to scale your efforts to include a bigger group, or to start targeting a different segment, with enough research (and zero assumptions!).
Following this process is advantageous in the long run, as it opens up possibilities for more cost-efficient ways to reach potential clients/customers and generate business.
Take Disney, for example. By strategically creating content for different audience segments, this mass media and entertainment giant keeps all of its fans happy and engaged. One proof is the Star Wars revival, which effectively drew in fans of all ages—from millennials to older generations—by using the Star Wars official Instagram account to tailor unique messages for each of the franchise’s target markets. Again, they couldn’t have done this without first knowing their initial set of fans and knowing the best way to reach them.
So keep drawing inspiration from brands that you admire, but don’t forget to take the time to do your own research. Assuming that you already know who your target market is and how they think is dangerous, and will limit your ability to develop strategic marketing campaigns that work.
Lastly, building your campaign around your target market involves choosing the right people to represent and market your brand. Remember, your message is only as good as the people who share it. Our network of thousands of creators is a good place to start looking for the right content partners for your brand.