No inbound marketing plan is complete without a clear definition of the ideal audience. Those who are exposed to your marketing efforts won’t become customers unless they’re receiving content that speaks to them, so you need a working target market definition before you can expect to start making sales.
What is the Definition of “Target Market?”
According to Investopedia, “a target market is the market a company wants to sell its products and services to, and it includes a targeted set of customers for whom it directs its marketing efforts.”
Target markets can be broken down based on numerous criteria, such as geography, buying power and demographic information. By clearly outlining your ideal audience, you can get the right message to the right people.
How to Identify Your Target Market
Now that you’ve got a target market definition to work with, how do you actually flesh out your own audience? Many inbound marketers develop buyer personas (sometimes called “marketing personas”), or fictional representations of the people you would ideally sell to. While creating content, marketers keep those buyer personas in mind, and tailor the content to them.
The more thoroughly researched and developed your buyer personas are, the more successful your marketing efforts are likely to be. Next up are some of the best practices for establishing buyer personas of your own.
Speak with Real Live People
Though personas are ultimately fake people, drawing inspiration from real ones is essential.
Interviewing your current customers about their pain points and behaviors may reveal some insights you would have never guessed. This includes both “good” customers who are delighted with your business, and “bad” ones who are less than pleased with you.
Prospects and leads also prove to be very useful interviewees. Since they’re not yet customers, they probably don’t know an awful lot about your business. That gives you the perfect opportunity to find out how people generally perceive your products or services.
Last but not least, interview internal stakeholders in your business. Figure out their thoughts on who your ideal customers are. Different roles within your company may have varying viewpoints, but all of them are valuable.
Look for Patterns
After you’ve gathered enough information, look for recurring themes. Does the data suggest that your buyers are mostly of a certain gender? Do many of them have the same job role? Are they all from the suburbs? Note anything that stands out for the next step of this process.
Create and Fill in Persona Templates
Set up a template that contains fields for the information you’ve gathered during your research phase. HubSpot, our marketing software of choice, offers several you can download for free. If you’d like to create your own, make sure you include as many of the following details as possible:
- Background information (such as job title, job history, family life)
- Demographic information (such as age, gender, income)
- Goals and challenges (in order to understand if they’re qualified buyers of your product/service)
While filling in your templates, use any patterns you’ve noticed to create several personas—generalized, fictional representations of the real people on whom your data is based.
Outlining your target market isn’t as simple as sitting back and assuming things about the people who patronize your business. It requires real data obtained through hard work and research. The good news is, that hard work will pay off when you can create the exact type of content your personas are looking for!