If Target Market is a Dirty Word, Make it Less R-Rated

by: Sarah Ormon

Are your executive meetings getting a little dull? Perhaps you’re feeling a little mischievous and want to “stir the pot”.  The best pot-stirrer I’ve found in my marketing career is to bring up the term “target market” during an executive meeting.

You’ll quickly find that everyone seems to have a slightly different version of the target market and fears that excluding a particular market sector would be bad for business. But if you’re looking to scale your business and focus your efforts where they’re going to matter most, “target market” mustn’t be a dirty word. In fact, it should be what you talk about most!

Having a unified understanding of your target market is necessary so that you can best serve your current and prospective clients. It helps drive your business decisions, not just your marketing decisions, and give you the ability to reach your market in a way that matters. If a product/service is not going to serve your target market, more than likely it’s not worth the investment. In a recent blog post, Seth Godin writes:

“The best way to build a brand that matters, a story that spreads, an impact that we remember, is to understand a simple but painful trade-off:  If you want to stand for something, you can’t stand for everything.”

You need to conquer your FOMO (“fear of missing out” for all you kids not up on the lingo) and embrace what a well-developed target market can offer your business.

Three Tips to Make Target Market Less R-Rated

Here are three things you can do to make target market less R-rated:

  1. Talk to sales. Really good sales people know the working meaning of target market (although they may call it something different). To a sales rep, the target market is the group of customers at the top of their call list. The ones that are quickest to close because they align best with the product/service offering and have the resources to commit to the purchase. That’s not to say that sales reps don’t call prospects not on this list, they just focus their efforts where they will get results – the target market.
  1. Nail down a few key personas. Now you may be thinking…”Sarah we are B2B not B2C, this persona approach will never work!”  I’m here to remind you that you still sell to people not a faceless business. By developing personas, you change your marketing approach from “Would company XYZ buy our services/products?” to “How and where can we engage Bob at company XYZ to buy our services/products?”. Using personas allows you to humanize your target market and helps your team visualize the person within the acount that is the most important to engage. It is central to an account-based marketing approach because it puts a face to your prospective clients (aka your target market) and their behaviour.

(If you need a little help learning how to develop key personas for B2B, my next blog post will help walk you through the steps. Sign-up for the blog to make sure you don’t miss it! SUBSCRIBE HERE)

  1. Understand and clearly articulate the problems you solve. At Stratford Managers one of the challenges we have when marketing our services is that we have several “product lines” (ie. a total of 6 consulting practices) and between 6 and 30 services within each practice.  It’s a bit of a marketing nightmare that becomes increasingly unwieldy as we scale the business.  To manage this challenge we selected a common theme that anchors our marketing and unifies our target market selection:  we help companies overcome the friction points caused by rapid growth in order to enable them to achieve scale. By understanding and clearly articulating this internally and externally we are able to focus our limited marketing and sales efforts to achieve maximum results.

By following these three tips, the next time someone utters the phrase “target market” you’ll get knowing looks rather than shocked and confused ones (and you won’t feel like you have to wash your mouth out with soap either!).

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