Let’s get back to fundamentals today: Target markets.  Chances are if you have done any research on how to market a business, you have heard of them.  You know you are supposed to hone in on the right audience for your message.  But how specific do you really need to be about who your target markets are?

I’ll give you a frustratingly simple answer: Get as specific as you can.

If you’re asking this question, I challenge you to get more specific with your target markets.  Most business owners seem to err on the side of too general, even when they start feeling uncomfortable with how precise they think they have gotten.

I challenge you to get more specific with your target markets. #marketing #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #entrepreneur #biztips Click To Tweet

When I lead workshops on this topic, I’ll ask everyone to think as specifically as they can, and very often that still yields responses that can be boiled down to a few words. A couple words isn’t enough detail.

Let me give you examples from my own business.  If I told you that my audience is small businesses, you might think that is a perfectly suitable answer.  It seems clear.  But is it sufficient?

If I narrow it down to small businesses on a budget, that seems clear too.  But I can do better than that.

If I am doing a presentation in New Zealand for small business owners on a budget, I want to let them know that all of those keywords matter.  Any one of those keywords could stand out for the people who need to see it.  If I specified an industry, then I would get those businesses to pay more attention to me.  The more keywords I can call out, the better chance I have of getting the attention of the people I am trying to reach.

When I wrote the words “target market” in my title of this Marketing Tip of the Week, it made you want to click and read.  Why?  I always talk about marketing.  What made you decide to click on this one?  That’s why the words target market were in there.  There are also people who decided not to click on this one.  They might have already worked through these questions in their business.  They might have been in business much longer.  This tip isn’t for them, so they were right not to click through to it.  If I had done a more general title, and they thought they were going to learn something new-to-them about small business marketing, they would have been disappointed.  I’d rather they click through to something relevant for them!

So many business marketers are afraid to get specific.  I understand that it may feel like you are ruling out everybody that isn’t that audience.  It may feel like you are losing that potential income.  This is the argument I get all the time.  It comes from a place of fear.  In reality, the results are the opposite.

The truth is, people only pay attention to what appears to be relevant to them after a few seconds of scanning.  What catches their eye has to resonate on some level to do that.  With all the input we are getting from minute to minute, we may only spend a few seconds deciding if something is relevant to us and worth closer inspection.

People only pay attention to what appears to be relevant to them after a few seconds of scanning. #marketing #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #biztips Click To Tweet

I want you to assume that people are paying no attention to you unless you make it clear that your message is for them.  It’s your job to show them quickly that you have something to say that really will matter to them.  Otherwise, they won’t even notice it.

Think about what that means.  The more specifics you can load in, the more chance you are giving for your message to resonate with someone.  The more matches you make in calling out what has meaning to them, the more you are compelling them to check out what you have to say.  On your audience’s internal relevance meter, you want to rank as high as you can.  That’s what will make them want to listen.

On your audience's internal relevance meter, you want to rank as high as you can. #marketing #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #business #biztips #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

Think you have more than one target market?  Fear not!  Most of us do.  That doesn’t mean you get more general to try to hook all of them in with one message.  It means you get specific in each message you send to the audience you want to reach.  (Read here if you want to learn more about marketing to multiple target markets!)

Don’t be afraid to revisit who your target markets are.  You may have different target markets for different offerings, different times of year, different campaigns you run.  Take the time to get clear on who exactly you are trying to reach.  Only then will you reach anyone!

If you’re looking for help in defining your target markets and want support to get as specific as possible, I have a couple of worksheets that will help you with this.  Click here for a B2B versionOr click here for a B2C version!