Friday, January 29, 2010

Where are they? Finding Your Target Market

You've got a great product. People are telling you to get out there and sell it. You've joined Etsy, eBay, Amazon or the like and have posted numerous items. Problem is, you aren't making as many sales as you'd like.

The foundation for all selling - branding, advertising, strategy - is the consumer. If they aren't convinced to buy, they won't buy it. If they don't like it, they won't tell their friends about it. And if they don't tell their friends, you'll never get sales by word of mouth.

Don't worry, you aren't the only person with this problem. Every major corporation today has this problem. Coke wants people buy more Coke. Adidas wants you to quit buying Nike. Convincing a consumer to make the decision to buy your product is a challenge. You have to get inside of their heads - and that's the trouble.

Etsian artrageousclay asked for help in defining her target market. The easiest place to start is your past sales. If you don't have any previous sales, ask yourself where you might get sales when answering these questions.

Are your customers primarily male or female?
If your customers are mostly female, then you're in luck. Women make up 85% of purchasing decisions in a household. Men and women shop in very different ways. Men usually know exactly what they want and go to the store to pick up that specific item. Women are more likely to browse and enjoy the experience of shopping. (For more on Men vs. Women, see the link Men Buy, Women Shop).

How old are your customers?
Professional advertising agencies typically break their customers into these age groups:
  • Under 18
  • 18 - 24
  • 25 - 35
  • 35 - 45
  • 45 - 55
  • 55+
You might be more familiar with these age groups if you think of it terms of generations - the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and beyond. Our Etsian said she made sales to all age groups. What I would encourage her to do is to think about what attracts each age group to a specific product. Maybe young teenagers buy the outrageous, wild pieces to make a statement? Maybe the older women buy unique beads to match what they wear to work? Think about the broader implications of how age affects a purchase.

Where do your customers live?
Selling online, where you customers may not seem like a big deal. But it is! Look at what regions your customers live in. Also determine if they are city-dwellers, rural, or suburban. If you are selling very traditional crafts, target the Midwest. If you sell urban chic, target Ann Arbor, New York, and L.A. You'll know if you have hit a hot spot if sales repeatedly come from the same geographic area. (For an in-depth look, try reading about creative cities in Richard Flordia's Book.)

Where do your customers work? Or, What do they do for a living?
Again, examine your previous sales. You may not know everyone's professions, but look for keys in your customer's sign-in names, profiles, etc. Are you seeing teachers? doctors? lawyers? stay-at-home moms? Now you know what shops to target for retail sales and what publications to advertise in.

How much do they make?
Income affects purchasing decisions. One ad agency found that low-income families are the last ones to cancel cable during a recession. Why? Because cable is sometimes the only form of entertainment the family can afford. Income can surprise you because what one person views as a need, another person will view as a splurge.

Think of any other aspects of their lives that would affect a purchase.
For my shop, it boils down to readers. If you like to read, you probably need a place to store all of your reading materials that pile up around the house. If you don't want to read, well, a pillow with a pocket is somewhat useless. It's like this: If you sell house siding, then you want to target people with houses. I had a retailer try to sell me house siding for two years in college. They called at least once a month. Not once did they make a sale - I lived in a dorm!

Once you have answered these questions, put it all together into a group. For example:

The Urban Mom: She is between the ages of 25 - 35 and has several children at home. She lives in a suburb based around a large city, such as Chicago, New York, or Seattle. She likes to be trendy, but needs to be practical in order to keep up with her busy life. The Urban Mom works part-time right now, but hopes to re-enter the workforce and wants to keep up with her business skills. She used to make over $50,000, but now she makes about $25,000 since she cut-back her hours at work. Her husband makes over $75,000 and helps support her family.

That was hypothetical - don't rely on it! But now you can see how these questions, when pieced together, puts a face on your elusive target market.

Questions? Comments?

1 comment:

  1. Wow this is good I will be back. Great blog and lots of great info.

    Thank you