Tips on how to define your target market

When I worked in media, new customers would often sigh and say “I don’t know what to say in my ad!” This would generally be at the point where they had decided they wanted to grow their business and spend some money promoting what they had to offer, but didn’t know what to do next. It was like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an on-coming car – if you have a plan and know where you’re heading you won’t be blinded by the lights. Here are some tips I learned along the way that really helped my customers.

If you don’t know what to say, it’s because you’re not clear on who you’re talking to

If you’re not going to tell them what you can offer them, how are they going to know? Most people are happy to support local businesses and would rather do that than support some big multinational. This is especially true for business owners, because – just like you – they’re building their business and need the support from their local community.

Where the big multinationals succeed over small businesses, is in the way they communicate with their customers and target markets. They have done the market research, know who the influencers, decision makers, buyers and users of their product or service are and they know what is important for these people.

As a small or medium sized local business there’s a wealth of information to be found online and just by talking to people, and it doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars to gain a better understanding of who your customers are.

Let’s look at some key people you should be talking to


These people may be using your product or service, or may just be familiar with it. The key thing is they can influence potential buyers. A simple example is a happy customer who writes you a testimonial that you then use to influence other people’s buying decisions. Social Media is a hugely important medium for influencers and some influencers get paid good money for posting about a certain product or service to their followers.

Decision makers

They are not always the ones holding the wallet but they do decide on what is purchased. Imagine this traditional example of a stay-at-home mum who’s been researching washing machines because their old one needs replacing. She will have looked at the options and decided which one would best suit their household. Hubby is the one earning the money so he’s the buyer, but the decision is made by his wife.


This may be the same person as the decision maker, but doesn’t have to be. In short, buyers are the people who will put up the money to complete the purchase.


These people will actually use your product. They may also be the decision maker and buyer, but don’t have to be. If they’re not, they are most likely an influencer. Think of parents doing the house hold shopping, but their kids asking for specific foods or brands (influencing the decision making and buying process) they actually want to eat.

Different groups require a different way of communicating with them. So decide who you’re wanting to talk to and read on to the next tip.

Turn your ‘target market’ into a real person and describe what your perfect customer would look like

OK, I admit this sounds really weird but trust me it works! Here’s a real-life example; when my partner and I owned a custom-made furniture and joinery company this is what our target market looked like when we turned them into a real person; Anna is in her 50s, lives in Nelson with her husband and they own their own home, a do-er up-per they bought over a decade ago. Over the years, they’ve updated their home and now that the kids are independent they have the disposable income to spend on the upgrades they really want. There were some odd corners in their kitchen so they contacted us for that and were really impressed with the quality of work and service offered. Anna and her husband have now come back to us 3 times to get their study fitted, a hallway side table made and have a dining table made to fit right in. PLUS they’ve raved about us to their friends and family which has resulted in more business for us.

So Anna is someone we want to talk to; she’s an influencer (talking to her friends and family), decision maker (telling her husband what they should spend money on next) and user (living in the house that we made the furniture and joinery for). That first original job we did for them might not have brought in a huge amount of money, but the flow-on effect was considerable and all we had to do was stay ‘top-of-mind’.

Ways to connect with ‘Anna’

  • We always sent our customers a card thanking them for their business and repeating our assurance that if they ever had any issues to please contact us so we could fix it.
  • We followed up after we had finished a project to make sure they were happy with the outcome. My partner would go see them in person so it would give him an opportunity to do any adjustments if required, but invariably he’d end up staying for a coffee and chatting about other jobs he was working on and giving them ideas.
  • We added customers to our e-mail list and e-mailed them with regular updates about our business. This included photos of work we’d done at their house (make sure you get approval before doing something like this!) and other jobs completed.
  • We also shared this on our Facebook page which they could then like and share with their friends.

It’s OK to have multiple target markets

…But every target market is unique so only communicate with one of them at a time. My example of Anna was quite unique in a sense that she was multiple target markets in one person. The thing is, it’s OK to have multiple target markets, but they all respond to different messages so don’t try to talk to them all at the same time.

Another real-life example was one of my customers when I worked in radio. This physiotherapy practice would see a range of different patients throughout the year. from ‘weekend warriors’ who were neither particularly young or fit anymore and got injured playing sports in the weekend, to gardeners who over-did work in their gardens come spring and ended up injuring their back. Completely different target markets that both required physio to get over their injuries. Rather than trying to appeal to them with a one-size-fits-all approach, we developed a range of ads targeting different patients and ran them on different radio stations and at different times of year.

If you want to better understand and communicate with your target market(s), give us a call today to schedule a meeting. We’d love to hear from you.

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