An effective content marketing strategy relies on sound marketing fundamentals. One of the fundamentals is carefully choosing a target market. Some marketers like to say their market is ‘everyone’? And why shouldn’t it be everyone? The bigger the pond, the more fish, the more we catch, right? Wrong!
Let’s go a bit further with the fishing metaphor. In the pond are thousands of different types of fish who like hundreds of different types of food.
You’ve manufactured a new type of bait that you’ve designed to appeal to all fish. You eagerly bait up your hook and toss it in the lake from your boat which is randomly positioned in the middle of the pond equidistant from any and all fish. One hour goes by, two hours go by, only to see a few nibbles, but the fish aren’t biting. How can this be? Your friends all said it was a great idea. My new bait is designed to appeal to all types of fish. I’m the global leader in fish bait with cutting edge technology and unparalleled knowledge and I’m excited to introduce this new bait technology. Sound familiar? Take a look at your own press. I bet it sounds a lot like the bait manufacturer.
Meanwhile, you glance over at another fisherman who seems to have strategically placed his boat in a small cove. He is hooking fish one right after the other and having a wonderful time. You nonchalantly paddle over within shouting distance. “Ahoy, I’m the global leader in fish bait, what’s your secret?” you ask him.
He responds that he has carefully chosen his bait to appeal to only 3 of the hundreds of types of fish in the pond as his ideal prospect for supper and he doesn’t care about the rest. He says he has been studying those particular fish in this pond for many months to learn exactly what they like in the way of food, where they congregate and when they eat. He says he also chose fish that like a particular type of worm which he grows organically with a unique proprietary soil formula. His final secret is that he regularly gives away the worms to the fish as free supper so they engage with him on a regular basis even when he’s not catching them for supper.
Even Coca Cola and Pepsi define an ideal prospect and/or target audience.
The Modern Marketer must choose a target market and carefully segment it to fit his ideal prospect profile. What’s that you say, everybody is your target market. Au contraire Pierre! Your firm has strengths and weaknesses, a core competence, and a unique differentiator. These characteristics make your offering good for some, bad for others, and indifferent to many. The top notch Modern Marketer realizes this and selects a target market that fits with the strengths, core competence and unique characteristics of their firm.
I’ve seen some companies who choose a market segment simply because they like the segment; maybe it’s a high growth segment or the companies in this segment are flush with cash. But they have nothing really unique to offer. A target market is a poor choice if you do not have something the people in that target market want or need.
A few basic rules:
- Choose a target market that can be defined and captured. If you can’t access the people in a target market and make a list, the definition is no good.
- Choose a target market that you can efficiently reach with your message. The target market should congregate in one fashion or another. (picture fish in a cove)
- Choose a target market that has a need your firm can meet with its core competence, uniquely if possible. Should you develop a product to meet a certain market’s needs? Maybe, but if you’re firm is already established, there is an infrastructure already in place that supports your core competence. Going to something new might take a lot of resources to change. Think Delta Airlines and their establishment of ‘Song’ back in 2003.
- A good starting point is to define current heavy users of your current offering