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How to Figure Out Your Target Market: Simple Steps to Getting it Right

Finding Your Target Market

Not everyone is in your target market and that is ok...actually, that is good.

How are you supposed to create authentic messaging (written or visual) if you are trying to talk to everyone at once? 

Often times when new clients are responding to our "Start a Project Questionnaire" we will get responses about demographics or target markets that say things like, "Anyone who cares about 'X' or is willing to take the time to invest in 'Y'" or the real killer is, "Well, everyone is my target market!" 

No they are not. From this day forward you are not allowed to say "everyone is my target market," you must be more specific.

How to Figure Out Who is ACTUALLY in Your Target Market

Step 1
Take a step back and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Who do you actually serve right now and/or who do you want to serve in the future? (who are your stakeholders, constituents, clients, customers, etc.) 
  2. Who have you served in the past?
  3. Has this changed over time? Why do you think that is?

Step 2

  1. Break them into groups or "themes" (age, location, socio-economic...really anything that will help you group similar characteristics and then separate things that make each group different.
  2. Try making little profiles of imaginary people using the characteristics you discovered above. Describe their age, what about their current place in life attracts them to your organization/company?
  3. Where do they like to shop or read or hang out with friends/family? What other organizations are these people a part of?

Step 3
Now you have created some target markets and you can take action. Think about ways you can insert yourself/your organization into these people's "normal lives." The idea is to raise awareness through the right marketing channels with an authentic message. 

The goal is to think more deeply about the real people you are trying to reach— be thoughtful...and if you find you do not have a target market, make one up.

Here is another good article on this topic by Ana Melikian, Ph.D» The attached picture was from her blog post, so I want to give credit where it is due.  :)

Val Neumark Mickela - director of strategic initiatives & education, founder, headshot

Val Neumark

Val is a brand strategist, educator, facilitator and coach focused on using communications, design-thinking and technology as vehicles to advance equity. Through partnerships and collaborations, Val endeavors to co-design anti-racist, anti-oppressive spaces and tools that facilitate strategic-thinking, community building and sustainable growth for non-profits and social impact organizations.

Val has a Bachelor's Degree in Visual Arts & Media from University of California San Diego and a Master's Degree in Education from Pepperdine University. A 2016 recipient of Pepperdine University's inaugural 40 under 40 Award. In their free time Val plays soccer, loves to hike, watch baseball and read Mia Mayhem books with their daughter.