Since we were assigned this project, I’ve been thinking about what my target market would be from the get-go. That may be skipping a few steps as far as the timeline of the startup project goes, but it can be a tedious process. The readings this week from Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism and Inc. explained that defining a sound target market establishes a foundation to your business.
Inc. explains that targeting a specific, concise market is a way to save marketing dollars, and be more efficient when connecting with customers. When finding the market that suites you best, or rather that you suit best, all sides of the equation have to be explored. Your target market should answer, ‘who, what, when, where, why?’ Inc. suggests the following steps:
- Look at current customer base: Who and what are consumers buying?
- Check out your competition: What else is out there?
- Analyze your product/service: What makes this so great?
- Choose specific demographics to target: Who wants this?
- Consider the psychographics of your target: What are the customers like?
- Evaluate your decision: Is this going to work?
In the Tow-Knights article, the same steps and questions to ask yourself are reinforced, specifically in the launch of a site. The four areas of focus the article provides are content, distribution, people, and revenue. In the same way that defining your audience allows your business to experience longevity and success, holds true for website launches. Defining your audience early, says Tow-Knights, will ‘help you more clearly define the scope of your site and plan for several years of operation.’ Knowing that you are doing something with a concise purpose keeps all efforts centralized to one goal.
One personal experience that these readings keep bringing me back to is a recent study abroad trip I attended through Michigan State’s marketing department. I went to London for two weeks over winter break to accumulate six necessary credits to graduate. Two weeks, six credits. Piece of cake, right? WRONG. The premise of this class was to work as an extension to Pure Michigan’s marketing team, and develop a business model to attract Europeans to Michigan. We had a few weeks of preparation courses before we left, intended for each group to determine a target market and sound strategy that we can put in use while abroad. We were given over a month to find our targets and develop a surface-level presentation. We went through our information and findings together about a day before the presentation and thought we were set.
My professor ripped our assignment a part. We said that we would send Millennials to Northern Michigan to go hiking. Well, that was extremely vague and the total opposite of what he was looking for. We had identified no niche markets, had not explored our competition in any way, and basically were our way to failure. We had to scrap our entire project, find a new target market, and start from square one.
This assignment, these readings, reinforce just how important figuring out your target market is. With a specific cohort in mind while performing your business endeavors, each decision will be deliberate and focused on reaching a consistent end goal. If you don’t know who you’re catering too, then you miss a major opportunity to be super successful. I think of target markets as quality over quantity. As Knights article focuses heavily on actual content, I will have to reference back frequently, as the creative side of things is not as familiar to me.
In cases like this, it’s neat to see marketing, journalism, business in general, become one. At the end of the day, the differing areas are very much the same: Communicate a story, sell it to a specific audience. It’s all storytelling and if done correctly, it’s very effective.