Defining Your Target Market

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Guest post by Mallory Whitfield of Miss Malaprop.

I’ve been working with a truly fabulous program for entrepreneurs this year, called the Urban Entrepreneur Partnership. I’m trying to push my shop to the next level and I’m working on a plan to expand to a brick and mortar location here in New Orleans. So far, one of the most valuable things I’ve learned through this program is about defining my target market. I thought I had a pretty good handle on this concept before starting the program, but the work I’ve done in the past few months has gone above and beyond what I thought I knew. I thought I would shed some insight onto this concept and why it’s so important.

What is a target market?

Your target market is your core group of customers. Even if you sell to all different types of people, you probably make most of your money off of one demographic. For me, that is women between the ages of 25-34 with a college education who are already interested in environmental and social issues and/or shopping handmade. (See how specific I was? Get as specific as possible about who your target market is!)

Why should I care?

If you not only know exactly who your target market is, but where they hang out (online and in real life), and how many of them there are, you can make more accurate financial projections for your business and save money on marketing and advertising expenses because you can really target your ad campaigns.

How do I know who my target market is?

If you’ve already been selling your work for awhile, you can figure this out by looking back at your past sales. Are your customers mostly men or women? Where do they live? Have they dropped any hints about their lifestyles via customer comments? Sometimes even email addresses can tell a story about your customer likes or dislikes. If you sell at craft shows or other events, you should likewise have a good idea of who your primary customer base is. Surveys are another great way to find out who the majority of your customers are. Encourage survey participation by offering up a prize or special discount to your customers.

How can I use this info to make me more money?

Once you know exactly who your ideal customer is, you can stop wasting money on slapdash advertising. Request a media kit from the places you’d like to advertise with. If they can’t provide reader demographics, and if those demographics don’t fall in line with your key market, move on. You can also analyze census data (find United States census data here) to figure out exactly how many people are in your target market. You can even get an idea of how many potential customers you have in your own zip code. If you have this kind of information in hand, you will be more likely to secure a business loan when you need one.

Defining your target market is a really important part of your business. Knowing who your primary customer is will inform almost all of your business decisions. If you don’t have this figured out yet, now is the time to get started!

{image credit “Shopping Ghosts” – photo by Ohad Ben-Yoseph via Flickr}

Mallory Whitfield is a proud resident of New Orleans, Louisiana. She started her blog, Miss Malaprop, in 2006 as a place to share her finds and document her personal journey to live a more sustainable lifestyle. In 2010 she expanded her offerings to include an online shop dedicated to the very best in handmade and eco-friendly gifts. She designs recycled clothing, accessories, and costumes, including the now infamous FEMA blue tarp dress, and she recently started a new site, Creative Business Growth, as a place to share her business tips & tricks.

7 comments | Click here to reply

This is a really helpful post and also, thanks for the informational links!

B. Xiomi Skerbec | July 19th, 2011 at 10:17 am

Good thinking , thank you so much for this post!
Annamaria Potamiti recently posted..What was in the mail and some new work-

Annamaria Potamiti | July 19th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

You’ve given me some serious food for thought. This makes a lot of sense, especially regarding spending advertising dollars on a very specific market, etc.

Tammy | July 19th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

This is a really useful and interesting post. Thanks.

http://n-drewblog.blogspot.com/

Nancy | July 20th, 2011 at 2:35 am

Thank you for sharing this…I’m just starting to think about it. I now have enough sales to begin defining my target market. So far, they have all been professional women in the 30-45 year old range, college educated. That’s what I have so far. I’m working to find the home decorating blogs they are reading! Thanks for your thoughts…I’ll keep trying!
Upscale Downhome recently posted..Utilitarian Decorating: Love it or Leave it?

Upscale Downhome | July 20th, 2011 at 8:11 am

Thanks again Mallory for a wonderful post. Great to hear that you commenters are finding Mallory’s information helpful. And Upscale Downhome- good work. Sounds like you are on the right track!
-Brittni

papernstitch | July 20th, 2011 at 12:05 pm

[…] guests posts on various business related topics for some fab blogs. Most recently, I did a post on Defining Your Target Market, over at papernstitch. A few weeks back, I did another one on Working as a Blogger AND a Brand: […]

Defining Your Target Market & Bloggers and Brands | July 21st, 2011 at 2:54 pm
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