In one week in April 1991 two baby girls were born to home owners on one West London street. Their Mums quickly became friends so the girls did too. They started school together, they shared birthday parties and they played together all the time. This April those two little girls celebrated their 25th birthdays. They shared their 5th birthday party with help from entertainer Wallygog the Wizard but their 25th birthday celebrations were very different. One celebrated in the pub surrounded by university, school and work friends and had one humdinger of a hangover the next day. The other celebrated more quietly with her husband and three month old, prematurely born, son. Look at their Facebook posts and one is posting photos from Cuba, Venice and London the other is posting baby and doggy pictures and news of bingo trips with the in-laws. Two very different versions of a 25 year old woman in 2016!
So when I ask business owners who their target market is and they say women between 25 and 50, I say think again. If two 25 year olds, born 3 days apart and starting out with so much in common, can be so different then how can women between 25 and 50 be one target market? I know some of my school friends became grandmothers around the same time I was having my children! So whilst I was footloose and fancy free pursuing my career, ruining my friends’ address books with my constant moves to the next posting, they were at home managing the juggling act of work, children, partner and homes. We still had some things in common but there was more that was different. The chances are that your target market will be more easily defined by their stage in life or business, their ambitions and their plans rather than their age.
What do you need to know?
Getting really clear about your ideal customer will help you to refine your offer to meet their needs and then to promote it so that they recognise themselves in your marketing and take the action you want them to take because your message is so right. Mothers of new born babies have one thing in common… their new babies, but the things they don’t share may be the differentiators for your business. For instance you may design a service to new mothers with older children or maybe your target is a professional woman returning to her career after a short maternity break. Being more specific about the mothers you are targeting will set you apart from other businesses selling more generalised services.
The following are some of the elements that go into creating your ideal customer’s profile:
- Marital status
- Number and age of children
- Where they live
- Home owner of renter
- Level of academic achievement
- Professional qualifications
- Work and whether it is full time/part time/self-employed etc.
- Hobbies and interests
- What they read, listen to and watch
- What do they care about
If your customers are other businesses the elements that make up their profile include:
- Age of the business
- What the business does
- Their customers
- Where they are located
- Nature of ownership e.g. sole trader, partnership, limited company or PLC
- Their routes to market
- Their decision making process and who their decision makers are
- What trade or business organisations they belong to
- Where they advertise or promote the business
- What do they care about
To get really clear about your target market you need to flesh out these elements as fully as possible and turn it into an avatar of your ideal customer. As you do this exercise you may find yourself describing more than one target in which case your target market will be segmented into different portions, but that is an article for another day!