It can be hard to pinpoint your target market, especially if you don’t know their specific attributes or buying habits. This three-step process can help you get smarter about customer targeting.
Pinpointing your target market can be tricky. You may have a general sense of the customers you’d like to attract, but may not have given much thought to the specific attributes or buying habits they possess. Or, your business may have historically targeted broad swaths of the population in an effort to reach as many potential customers as possible, not realizing that isolating a specific type of customer and catering to their needs could actually win more loyalty, more passionate viral communication and better sales.
If you’re considering a new approach and want to get smarter about customer targeting, I recommend following the three-step process below.
1. Be Specific About Your Target Customer
To cater to the preferences and needs of your ideal target customer, you need to know exactly who they are. Are they in their 20s and fresh out of college? Are they an urban 30-something with a busy career? Are they a mature parent balancing family, home and social responsibilities?
At Pink Lily, we set out with a very specific vision of our target customer – a mom and/or professional woman in her 20s or 30s who loves trendy fashion, but prioritizes affordability, comfort and convenience. I know exactly who this woman is, because I am this woman.
When I started buying for Pink Lily, I was really buying for myself. But I also knew that the products I loved would be similarly appreciated by thousands of other women just like me. Having a specific vision of my ideal customer helped immeasurably when it came to making decisions about our brand – whether it was choosing accessories to add to our product line or determining the best form of content for our social media platforms.
As another example, knowing that our target customer was price-conscious led us to make the initial strategic decision to keep 95 percent of our merchandise under $50. I still step into “customer mode” on a regular basis, to get into the headspace of what a customer like me would really want.
2. Review What’s Working and What’s Not
Once you’ve established a vision of your target customer, it’s time to actively monitor for what they like and don’t like. This means monitoring your sales and tying the findings back to your target customer’s preferences, personality and buying patterns. Every sales spike or failed product will tell you something about your target customer, if you let it. At Pink Lily, we noticed that our easy-to-wear, super comfortable styles were outperforming other fashions. As a result, we added that knowledge to our vision of our target customer and altered our future buying decisions based on what we learned.
In addition to evaluating your sales successes and failures, I’d also recommend watching what’s working well for your competition. If you’re able to identify what’s most popular for the brands that are targeting customers similar to yours, you can be inspired to move in a similar (yet still unique) direction. Overall, the ongoing and careful monitoring of the likes and dislikes of your ideal target customer will be invaluable to refining your approach.
3. Maintain A Dialogue With Your Customers
Finally, it’s important to keep the lanes of communication open between your business and your customers. This practice is more involved than simply sending out email blasts and other communications. In order to understand the changing preferences and demands of your target customer, you must take the time to solicit feedback and criticism from your current customer base.
Pink Lily achieves this primarily through surveys. We ask a series of brief questions to determine what our customers want to see more and less of in the future. Customers often express appreciation that we would inquire about their desires, and take the opportunity to provide candid comments. This effort has also unveiled several helpful insights about our customers (including the desire for less evening wear and more casual leisure clothes), and helped us to further hone our vision of our target customer. As a result, we’re able to provide more of what our customers want and further increase their satisfaction rate.
Finding and understanding your target customer is undoubtedly an art, and one that doesn’t end with a good sales year. If growth is important to your organization, every tidbit of information is valuable, and will provide more complexity and nuance to the vision of your ideal buyer. As you come to understand them better and better, you can more effectively shape your business to exactly meet their preferences. It’s a win-win situation.