3 Critical Steps to Identify Your Target Market


By Sue Brady

Archer targets with Bryan

Knowing your target is critical to your success. Once you know what your typical customer looks like, it’s much easier to find others who look just the same. Especially if you are selling as a business (B2B), it’s important to remember that your product is bought by a person, not a business. You will be more successful selling if you can identify commonalities among your buyers.

Step 1: Analyze your current customer file to tease out the demographics.


If you sell directly to the consumer (BtoC), you need to know, at a minimum, three basic things:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income.

It’s also helpful to know education level, where they live, occupation and/or employment status, ethnicity, children in the home, and marital status.

If you are selling B2B, gender and age of the buyer is still important, but add to that:

  • Job title
  • SAIC code (business classification code)
  • Company size (employees and revenue).

This analytical exercise will help you paint a picture of your target and make it easier to find ‘similar’ buyers. You’ll be able to better target both your online and offline marketing.

Step 2: Determine behavioral characteristics of your buyers.

To figure this out, again turn to your current customer file. This is easier (IMHO) if you are targeting customers directly, but also has a B2B application.

In the case of B2C it’s important to know what your customers like to do. Do they tend to be outdoorsy, are they car fanatics, do they love to cook? Knowing this information will make your customers easier to find. If they like to cook, try running ads on recipe sites, if they like to hike, look for them on hiking trail sites. You get the idea.

There are a number of ways to figure out what your customers like to do:

Look at the Twitter feeds of some of your most active buyers. Do some analysis to see what they are tweeting about. Visit the links they share. See if you can determine any patterns. You might find that a portion of your buyers spend time doing research on cars. Perfect! Now you know where to target some advertising.

Analyze your Facebook posts to see which ones resonate more with your followers. Do you get a lot of engagement when you post about your company’s charitable activities? If so, think about how you can use that in your marketing.

Analyze how much time your website visitors spend reading various content. Especially in B2B, if your visitors tend to gravitate towards particular topics, you can continue writing about those, you can reach out to influencers in your field to see if you can publish on their blogs or you can figure out appropriate conferences and see if you can speak on that topic. The goal is to establish yourself as an industry expert on a topic that’s important to your buyers.

Step 3. Do some research.

For both B2C and B2B, survey research can yield dividends. There are many tools available that enable surveys (paid and free!). Don’t be afraid to reach out to past buyers to ask questions. SurveyMonkey is an easy to use tool that has a free and paid version. You can survey without revealing who you are, or as your brand. You can run a survey on your website, or rent a list of folks who have opted in to take online surveys. Do your research to come up with a list you know is ‘opted-in.’ Be sure to consider survey bias with online surveys. You might find that there are different behaviors with people who have opted in to take an online survey vs those who haven’t (they might be younger, older or have other characteristics unique to the group). Always ask demographic questions (age, gender, income, etc.) in your surveys and use those answers in aggregate to see if they look similar to your customer base.

Once you survey your customers, you can ‘cut’ the data in a number of ways to see where nuggets of information might exist.  For instance, you may discover that one product feature is more important to your male buyers, and another to your female buyers. Or that your older buyers tend to buy your product for others, or that your tech savvy customers spend more.

Do some research on your competitors’ customers too. Why are they buying from him instead of from you? This type of research will take more time than surveying your existing base because it may be harder to get a statistically significant sample size, but is a great way to gain insight into why your competitor sometimes wins out. For instance, if you sell Internet service, you can ask questions like: What Internet service do you use? What is the most important feature your Internet service delivers? Do you know the speed of your Internet service? There are a few options for these types of surveys. You can hire a survey company to find appropriate email lists that might include both your customers and your competitors’ customers, or try to find lists yourself. The information gathered can be enlightening!

This is the 2nd in a 3-part series. Original post is here.

How to Use Goals to Be the Best You Can Be


By Sue Brady


Last month I briefly covered some important marketing planning topics. My next few posts will focus on each topic one at a time. This post focuses on goal setting.

Setting goals is incredibly important. But why? Without clear goals, your department will be unfocused and is unlikely to take your business where it needs to go.

Goals are a tricky thing. If you are in a position to set goals for your department, you want them to be achievable, while at the same time not being an easy slam-dunk. Goals should encourage employees to stretch a little bit. You want to have over-achievers, not ‘business as usual’ experts. Tweet that!

The methodology of setting goals definitely varies by company. I’ve worked in places where the goals were simply ‘10% higher’ than the year before. I’ve also had goals set through careful analysis of run rates to determine where the business has to be (and yes, those sometimes ended at 10% higher than the year before). And, I’ve had goals set for me that look at run rates and go up from there.

Use goals to motivate! I’m a believer that if you set goals too high, where you know the chances of them being achieved are low, all you end up doing is demotivating your staff. You really want the goal to be one everyone can get behind and strive to reach. I don’t mean easily reach by doing what they’ve always done, I mean stretch to reach because they are incented to do more, or to do things better.

A story:

While at AOL, I spent some time working in the Customer Retention department (no snickers please!). My boss set the goals for the department, and one particular year he put a goal on ending customers, the number of total customers the company would have by year-end. He came to the number through analysis, gut, and the knowledge of programs we were launching to entice customers to stay with us. It was not an easy number but we all knew what that number was. We watched our monthly numbers like hawks to drive to our goal. And guess what? In a year where we had over 10 million customers by year-end, we ‘missed’ our number by 71. 71! We celebrated the huge win!

Hitting your targetThe point of that story is, however you set your goals, they should serve to motivate. Most places I’ve worked have weekly meetings where sales numbers are reviewed. The reason for those meetings is to keep everyone focused and on track.

Use Goals to Drive Innovation. Someone at my current employer decided to launch an initiative called ‘Leave no Customer Behind’ as a way to achieve one of the goals for her team. It’s brilliant! Her group is totally focused on uncovering points where we lose customers, and closing those gaps. Not only is it innovative, it has given her staff clear direction on where to focus because there are goals associated with the effort.

Review what’s key to your business success. Is it sales, leads, cost per order, social sharing, hits to your blog? Create goals to drive achievement of each important metric, make sure everyone knows what those goals are, and work together to achieve them.

Good luck!

Please send me a message to let me know of other topics you’d like to read about.