Hitting the bull’s eye: Defining your target market!

Increase sales and grow your business by understanding your customer.

Learn how to better your sales by creating a target market. | MSU Extension
Learn how to better your sales by creating a target market. | MSU Extension

Your customer base is an important part of your business. Without customers, you would not be in business. It is critical to carefully analyze who your customers are and why they do business with you. According to Michigan State University Extension, the more you know about your customers –how, where and why they buy- the better you will be able to market your product or service to them.

Defining your customer base or target market is an affordable, efficient and effective way to reach potential customers and generate business. Targeting a specific market does not mean that you have to exclude people that do not fit your criteria from buying from you. Rather, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing efforts on a specific market that is more likely to buy from you.

What are the characteristics of your target market? Demographics, such as gender, age, income, occupation, location, family status, education and ethnic origin can all influence buying behavior. For example, a teenage boy from an affluent neighborhood will have different buying habits than a  middle-aged educated married woman with children. In addition, understanding your customer’s values, lifestyle, interests, hobbies and attitudes (psychographics) can provide important insight into their purchasing decisions. Do they value image, appearance, prestige, price, quality, pleasure, comfort, ease, health or security?   

Mass marketing is another aspect that appeals to all people. To better define your customer base or target market from the mass market, you should segment your potential market according to their wants, needs and motivations.  Market segmentation allows you to better define who your “real” customer may be based on their characteristics. It takes  the larger market and divides it up into smaller sections based on both demographic and psychographic  characteristics.  Once you know who you are targeting, you can create a customer profile. This makes it  much easier to figure out how to communicate with them and create a marketing message that will appeal to them.

Whether selling livestock at the 4-H auction, vegetables at the farmer’s market, clothing at a retail shop or handmade items at a craft sale, understanding your target market better can help you increase sales and grow your business.

To learn more, visit MSU Extension. Here you will find many resources, programs and articles on business development and entrepreneurship for both youth and adults. 

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