How to Define your Online Business's Target Market
Dropshipping and eCommerce gives you a lot of leeway and freedom when it comes to starting your own business. The options are pretty much innumerable, and you can sell anything that you can think of, from Himalayan salt blocks for your feet to very nifty watermelon slicers. With the seemingly unlimited options, you might ask yourself why pick a niche and target audience when you can just target everyone? What could go wrong?
Since you may be wondering this yourself, targeting everyone just isn’t practicable, and a lot of unsavory things can happen with such an unfocused approach. Even the big players like Amazon started as a niche-oriented online business that sold only books for years. Starting your online business with the idea of “targeting a wide range of people” could be fatal because it means that your marketing strategy does not have a clearly defined aim at its very core. If you decide to go and target everyone, then you might as well target no one.
It’s best to think of your marketing message as a dart and you are aiming at the bulls-eye. It would be easier for you to focus your energy and attention on hitting one mark at a time, than simultaneously hitting two separate bull’s-eyes with one dart in each hand. If you want your marketing effort to be worthwhile, then you should clearly define what you are selling and the individuals who will ultimately be more receptive to purchasing your products.
When starting your online business, instead of dispersing your focus and money in all directions, focus on the greatest potential instead.
Makes sense, right? So let’s move on to the coming topics on defining your target market. If you want to learn about how to focus on potential and reach the right audience, then let’s keep on reading.
Understanding the Difference Between Target Market and Target Audience
Before we talk about defining your target market, let us first delve into the meaning of target market and target audience itself.
A target market is a group of consumers who share similar characteristics, whether it be age, gender, hobby, lifestyle preference, etc., that make them more likely to need and want certain products because it caters to their specific needs, desires, and lifestyle. Take note that the target market is the intended end-user of your products.
Defining your target market for your online shop can benefit you and your marketing strategies in so many ways, mainly because it saves you the marketing effort of reaching a bigger audience, who don’t really care for or even need your products. If you have a specific target, you can generate more revenue while expending fewer resources to a limited audience who actually wants and needs what you are offering them.
Now let’s talk about your target audience. The words “target audience” are often interchanged with the words “target market”, and they can be synonymous. However, this is not always the case. While we think of the target market as the end-users of your products, your target audience is the receiver of your marketing message. The receiver of your marketing message and its end-user may not necessarily be one and the same.
For instance, if you were dropshipping baby clothes, your target audience cannot be infants. Infants cannot process your marketing message, so they cannot be your target audience. Instead, your target audience are parents and other adults, while your target market or end users are babies who cannot even begin to care about clothes until later in life.
The target market and target audience can be different, but they can also be the same. For example, if you were to sell streetwear and your target market comprises of young adult consumers, then you will most probably want to focus your marketing message on the very same people. This makes the target market and the target audience one and the same.
Identify the Problems your Products Solve
Now that we understand target market and target audience, let's talk about solving your customers' problems with your products and your product niche. Take note that you aren’t just selling products and services, you are creating a business that is positioned to solve your potential customers' problems or pain points.
A pain point is a specific problem that your potential customers are experiencing. Knowing your customers' pain points will help you solve their problems more effectively and you will also be closer to knowing how to convince them to buy your products.
An effective way of selling your products is not to focus on the product itself, but to put emphasis on the end results of satisfying your customers’ needs and desires. If you want to start a dropshipping business selling outdoor equipment, don’t just sell your customers thermal jackets, sell them a break from monotony. Sell adventure and excitement!
To identify the solutions that your products provide to your customers, you must first analyze your products. List your core products and categories, and ask yourself:
- What desires and needs do my products fulfill?
- What problems do my products solve?
- Who is most likely to have this problem?
For example, a dropshipping store selling innovative and smart kitchenware gives its customers the benefit of being able to cook meals more quickly, more neatly, and efficiently. You are solving the problems of busy men and women who don’t have as much time but want the benefits that come with a home-cooked meal; you are selling them great convenience in the kitchen.
Once you have identified the problems your product solves and the benefits that they can provide your consumers, you will begin to have a clearer picture and understanding of the type of person who may need your products.
Know your Target Customer
Now that you have figured out the problems that your products are designed to solve, we can begin to create a profile of the people who are most likely to buy them.
To do this you must ask yourself some specific questions about your targets. Ask yourself who your target customer is. Important factors you must determine also include:
Age or Generation
This will be one of the more important aspects that you will have to determine. How old is your target market? You don’t have to know the exact age of your consumer, the age range will do. For instance, you can target Millennials, who were born between the years 1981-1999.
You must know where in the world your customers reside for an optimized marketing strategy. Knowing where your customers live will let you know when your customers are more active online, and when you can get the most out of your social media ads.
Hobbies and Interests:
Ask yourself if your target market has any specific hobbies or interests that align with the concept behind your shop. If your store is centered on a certain hobby or interest then you must make sure that there is an existing group of people that will be interested in your online shop.
You have to know the income level of the people that you are targeting because income level affects purchase power. For instance, if you are targeting those who are fresh out of college, then you can expect that they have lower-level income, and you must adjust your product price to their circumstance.
We all go through numerous stages in life, so you must ask yourself what life-stage your customer is in. For instance, your customers can be newly-weds, retirees, fresh college graduates, parents of young children, etc. These life stages can affect people’s interests. For example, new parents will be interested in baby accessories. Life stage can also affect purchase behavior, like in newlyweds who may be more likely to make more purchases on average.
Purchasing Power and Frequency
Things like how much your target customer makes in a year, how much debt they typically are in, and how much disposable income they have are factors that you must take into consideration because it affects purchase power, habits, and frequency.
Having all these factors down will help you paint a good mental picture of the people you want to target. Don’t be afraid to go down into details and to get specific!
Evaluate your Findings
Your business needs to be profitable. Just because you have identified the benefits of your products and the target market for your store, does not necessarily mean that you should jump in immediately. You must first evaluate your findings because the market you are eyeing may or may not be worth serving.
You must ask yourself:
- Are there enough people for this target market?
- Is my target audience easily and readily accessible?
- Can my target market afford these products?
- Are there a lot of competitors in this niche?
The kind of information that you require may already be readily available online. Try to do some online searches on your target market, read blogs, and check out some analysis and stats on the kind of market you are targeting. If you can find survey results, even better. If you can’t, you can begin a survey of your own and ask for your customers’ feedback.
Back to You
Defining your target market may take some time, research, and objective consideration on your part, but when you finally know who you can target, marketing your online store and products should be easy because your marketing message will be hitting the right audience, and leaving an impression where it matters.
Make sure to understand what benefits your products can impart and what demographic will need and benefit the most from what you are selling. Building your online store with a well-researched target market will help you save time and money, and help you make those sales.
What’s your take on the importance of determining your target market? Are you also in the process of finding the ideal target market and audience for your online store? If you are, and if you have any concerns or questions, then please feel free to start a conversation with Ecommerce Pro today. We love to discuss the future plans of your online business ventures and to share practical solutions that help you meet your eCommerce and dropshipping business goals.
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