Let’s start with a little hypothetical here.
You own a wedding venue, and you’re using your blog to attract organic traffic to your website. Good for you! That’s what I would do in your situation, too.
So you’re doing a little brainstorming, trying to figure out what potential brides and grooms would be interested in that could get them to your site. You settle on a blog about how couples can save money wedding planning.
You write it up, make sure it’s got some good SEO juice for the keyword “how to save money on wedding,” and wait for the visitors. Over the next couple of weeks, your blog post climbs the rankings on Google and you get a decent number of clicks through to your site.
But you’re not getting any leads. Users are clicking through to learn more about your venue, but no one is taking the next step to schedule a visit. Why?
Because the content wasn’t reaching the right potential customers…aka the target market.
Who are your people?
Before you can try to market to your people, you have to know exactly who those people are. Until you’ve locked down your target customers, you’re running around a cave in the dark, hoping to run into someone ready to buy.
When you know exactly who the audience is for your product or services, it’s like lighting a candle in that dark cave. Suddenly, everyone without a flashlight can see you and comes running.
Target Market Definition: the overall group of people that your goods or services are trying to reach
Now how do you identify your audience? In many marketing circles, people advocate creating an Ideal Customer Avatar (ICA). This is when you identify all the common characteristics of your “ideal customer” so you can market specifically to them. These exercises include getting hyper-specific, calling out traits like:
- job title
- income level
- marital status
- number of kids
- homeownership status
- type of car
- favorite movies (seriously)
- favorite books & magazines (again, seriously)
They may even name the person.
Do you really need to invent all these little details to connect with your market? In my opinion, you don’t. (A bit controversial, but…shrug.)
If you’re a wedding planner, do you care what your bride does for a living? Now, if you’re a high-end planner who charges a premium for your services, their income level may be important. But we’re more interested in how couples connect with the benefits that your services offer.
Maybe you’re a “do it all” planner who takes the pressure off of couples during wedding planning. Your ideal customer is busy and may prioritize their time over money. So we’re looking at overbooked, well-off couples who want to make their lives easier and don’t mind paying higher rates for the service. Does it matter what their names are and if they’re getting married in their 30s vs. in their 40s?
So I give you permission not to name your ideal customer avatar and not to assign demographic data to them, like specific age, job title, or their thoughts on yoga vs. pilates.
The useful part of the ICA
However…we do need to explore what problems your ideal customer is facing, how you can solve them, and how your product or service will make the customer feel. This part is the bread and butter of the ICA. A true connection doesn’t come from surface level demographics. Reducing our customers to a list of traits encourages us to treat them like stereotypes, not people.
Now that’s not to say that all traits should be abandoned. In the example of our wedding planner, obviously we’re looking for engaged couples. If they’re not engaged…they don’t need you. There will also be a location requirement, since weddings are in-person affairs. But does a hotel that markets to business people attending conferences in town care if they’re married or how many kids they have?
Not so much.
Instead, we can look for more general similarities that will help us understand where our people are coming from.
Are they price conscious? Or do they want the best of the best, no matter the cost?
Where do they hang out online? This will help you know where to concentrate your marketing messages.
What is their number one problem…and how do you solve it? This is the key. Your customers need to have a problem big enough that they’re inspired to take action. When you really, truly understand that problem, you can share what makes your product or service the number one solution.
And that’s how sales are made.
Let’s take a look inward…
You may have a specific target in mind, but does it match your current customers? In other words, is your marketing bringing in your buyers? Or are your buyers finding you on their own?
If your actual customers don’t seem to line up with who you’re trying to target, then maybe your marketing is unfocused and attracting the “wrong” people.
Or maybe you decide that you like the “wrong” people just fine. Turns out you tapped a market in need of your services that you hadn’t actually considered before. And you need to be marketing to them more, not less!
Target market segmentation
“But what if I have more than one target market?” I can hear you saying.
That’s okay! We can identify multiple market segments.
A high-end hotel downtown may want to attract couples looking for a fun-filled getaway…AND executives attending the big conference at the event center down the street. One space, two target markets. So they’ll need two different marketing strategies to attract potential customers from both niches.
The conference-goers will be interested in your proximity to the convention center and restaurants nearby where they can take colleagues. The couples will want to know where the darkest, coziest corners are for canoodling and smooching.
Market segmentation may include blog posts and social media marketing aimed at both groups, as well as emails specific to each group. It could also include targeted social media ads.
Back to our venue…
So what was the problem with our hypothetical wedding venue?
They cast too wide of a net, for starters. A blog post about a general topic like saving money on a wedding will attract readers from all over the country — maybe even international readers. If your venue is in Seattle, a reader in Florida isn’t going to buy. (There may still be value in the post for SEO reasons — just not for immediate sales.)
The other reason? Their blog post was about saving money. And in my hypothetical situation, the venue is priced at the absolute top of the market. So they attracted engaged people, but not the kind of engaged people who will spend top dollar for their wedding venue.
They focused on the wrong target market. Instead, this venue should write content all about a local luxury wedding experience, and how their customers deserve (and can get) the best that money can buy.
They will get fewer readers. But their readers will be more likely to convert to customers. And that’s what marketing is all about.