- Age: children, teens, young, middle, elderly
- Gender: male, female
- Education: high school, college, university
- Income: low, medium, high
- Marital status: single, married, divorced
- Ethnic and/or religious background
- Family life cycle: newly married, married for 10 – 20
years, with or without children.
This information should be available to you through your
local town , hall, library, or Chamber of Commerce – and the
more detail you can get, the better.
Next, you need to segment the market as much as possible
using 'psychographics' as your guide:
- Lifestyle: conservative, exciting, trendy, economical
- Social class: lower, middle, upper
- Opinion: easily led or opinionated
- Activities and interests: sports, physical fitness,
- Attitudes and beliefs: environmentalist, security
*Note: if you are a B2B company, you'll also need to consider
the types of industries available to you, and their number of
employees, annual sales volume, location, and company stability.
In addition, you might want to find out how they purchase:
seasonally, locally, only in volume, who makes the decisions? It
is important to note that businesses, unlike individuals, buy
products or services for three reasons only: to increase
revenue, to maintain the status quo, or to decrease expenses. If
you fill one or more of these corporate needs, you may have
found a target market.
By now you should have a picture emerging of who you think
your 'ideal' customer is … or who you want it to be. Depending
on the nature of your business, you might even be able to write
a description of your customer. "My target customer is a
middle-class woman in her 30s or 40s who is married and has
children, and is environmentally conscious and physically fit."
Based on the numbers you uncovered in your research, above, you
may even know, for example, that there are approximately 9000 of
those potential customers in your area! It may well be that 3000
of them are already loyal to a competitor, but that still leaves
6000 who are not, or who have not yet purchased the product from
anyone. Do the research!
Lots of times prospective customers don't know about your
company, or can't tell the difference between your company and
others. It is your job, once you know who your best customers
are, to 'target' the group that you've identified – even if you
In addition, you may decide, using the example above, that
you'd also like to extend your target market to include women
from 50 – 60 years of age. If you go back to the basic reasons
why people purchase goods or services, and can find ways to
target your efforts to that age group, you may be successful in
capturing a bigger share of the market!
On the other hand, what if you 'specialized' your product or
service and then researched your target market, only to discover
that there are probably less than 75 people who will buy from
First of all, if those 75 are corporate customers who will
spend hundreds on your product or service annually, then you
have nothing to fear. But if those 75 are only going to spend
$10 every decade on your product or service – then you need to
go 'back to the drawing board' of planning your business and
perhaps determining a wider target market – but at least you are
armed with all the information you need to start again, or go in
a different direction.
Let's face it – there's a market, and a target market, for
If you don't think so, remember pet rocks?
Author Marilyn Guille owns Comprehensive Virtual Editing
(CoVE) Services, which provides press release writing and
distribution, general and business writing, editing, and
ghostwriting services. Guille has been a professional freelance
writer for over a decade, and lives on a classic boat on which
she and her husband do sightseeing charters.