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Target acquired: How to define and use your ideal target market

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Ironically enough, when it comes to promoting themselves, many businesses jump straight into marketing and forget to really think about the most important part of marketing: their target market.

This problem isn’t just limited to new entrepreneurs or start-ups, either. I’ve talked to plenty of well-established companies who can only describe their target market in broad generalities.

This is a real problem because knowing exactly who you’re targeting with your marketing is the key to successfully reaching, connecting with and convincing them to buy what you’re selling. So, while it’s tempting to jump right into building your marketing campaigns and putting together creative, it always pays to stop and think about your target market first.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at how to identify your target market and use what you know about that market to create target marketing campaigns that sell.

Who am I targeting?

Whether you’re a new business or a decades-old company putting together a new ad campaign, you should always be asking yourself “who am I targeting?” Even if you sell products with broad appeal, this question is still important. Specifics sell and the more specifics you know about the market you are targeting, the more effective your marketing will be.

For example, if you sell lotion, you might think that your target market is too big to define. I mean, almost everyone gets dry hands at some point, right?

While that might be true, there are a lot of different reasons why people buy lotion. Some people live in a dry climate. Some have a skin condition like rosacea. Some people want a lotion that smells good, while others want a scent-less lotion because scented lotions irritate their skin.

Would it make sense to use the same marketing for all of these different groups?

Even if your scent-less lotion happens to be great for people who live in a dry climate or have rosacea, it’s hard to effectively market to all of these markets simultaneously. After all, if someone searches for “rosacea lotion” on Google, they aren’t looking for lotion because they live in a dry climate. They want a lotion that will treat their specific skin condition.

Even within a more targeted market segment like “rosacea sufferers”, there is often room to refine your target market further. For example, you’d want to use very different marketing tactics to market your lotion to moms with young children suffering from rosacea than you would if you were trying to sell to middle-aged men with the condition.

Can you see why understanding your target market is so important? The more clearly and precisely you can answer the question “who am I targeting?”, the more focused and effective your marketing will be. Obviously, you have to balance market size with market specificity, but understanding who you are targeting and what motivates them is the key to create compelling marketing campaigns.

With all that in mind, here are a few easy questions you can ask yourself to help you define your target market(s):

How do my current customers use my product or service?

As I mentioned above, even people who use your product or service for the same thing may use it for different reasons or in different ways. For example, if you offer invoicing software, you may have some customers who use it for every client and transaction, while others only use it for certain clients or situations.

Odds are, invoicing software addicts are probably your most valuable customers and you will want to both target them more aggressively and with different messaging than you would more casual users. Your software will be an integral part of their business, so certain selling points about your software will appeal more to them than they would to your standard users.

Segmenting your current customer base by how they use your product or service can give you a lot of insight into your target market(s). Odds are, if your current customers love your business for a particular reason, potential customers who are motivated by the same things will be likely to respond to marketing that focuses on that same issue.

What am I trying to sell?

This might seem like an obvious part of any marketing campaign, but when it comes to defining your target market, knowing what you are trying to sell is important, especially if you’re changing what you are selling. Many businesses try to use old marketing tactics to sell a new product and then wonder why their results are bad.

Whether you’re trying to market something new or simply get more sales for a particular product or service, it’s important to think about who your new target market is. Different products and services appeal to different audiences, so even small tweaks to what you’re selling can have big effects on how well your marketing works.

For example, if you sell cookies and decide to add organic, egg-free cookies as a new product, you need to market them differently than your standard cookie line.

Let’s be honest, most people who buy organic, egg-free cookies aren’t buying them because they are the best tasting cookies. They care about the ingredients more than the flavor, so your marketing should focus on how healthy and environmentally friendly your cookies are.

At the same time, if most of your customer base loves the flavor of your standard cookies, they aren’t likely to start buying your organic cookies because they are environmentally friendly. They want the delicious cookies they know and love, so you should focus on marketing the flavor of your core cookie offering to your less ingredient-conscious target market.

Ultimately, what you are trying to sell has a huge impact on how you sell it and who you sell it to. As a result, “what am I trying to sell?” should be one of the first things you ask yourself during the marketing process.

What is the competition doing?

While I’m a big advocate for standing out from the competition, you can also learn a lot from the competition—both about what to do and what not to do.

For example, take a look at the ad below:

You can clearly see that this business is targeting high-intensity people who probably lead high-intensity, busy lifestyles. To appeal to this market, their ad copy is high energy and focused on the flexibility of their offering.

If you happen to be a competitor of theirs, there’s a lot you can learn from this. On the one hand, if you want to target the same market, you can look for keywords or phrases they are using to try and catch the attention of their target audience.

Alternatively, if you want to differentiate yourself and try to target an alternative market, you could try focusing on price, a different exercise option or offering lower-key classes that might appeal to less intense potential customers.

Whether it’s a gym down the street or an international conglomeration, your competition can teach you a lot about who your target market is (or should be) and how to approach them in your marketing.

Is my target market niche … or non-existent?

One final thing to keep in mind as you identify your target market is the size of that market. As we discussed earlier, the narrower your target market is, the easier it is to create specific, highly targeted messaging for them. However, if you can only target 10 people with that messaging, it may not be a market worth targeting.

Given the massive reach of online advertising platforms like Facebook and Google, this isn’t a common problem, but it is something to keep in mind as you define your target market(s). If you find yourself struggling to effectively target the market you’ve selected, you may need to take a step back and expand your audience a bit.

As a general rule of thumb, I like to assume that 3 percent of the people you can target with a given marketing channel are ready to buy today and 3 percent can probably be convinced to buy. If that 3 to 6 percent of your identified target market isn’t enough potential business to be worth your time and money, your market is probably too niche to be useful.

Conclusion

While it can be easy to assume you know who your target market is and what they want, taking the time to really think about what you’re selling, who you’re selling it to and how to best sell it can significantly improve your marketing results. It might not be the most glamorous or exciting part of marketing, but it’s a key part of every good marketing campaign.

The post Target acquired: How to define and use your ideal target market appeared first on Marketing Land.

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10 questions with… Carter Murray, chief executive of FCB

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The Drum speaks to people across the global media and marketing sector who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what little insights they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are answered by FCB chief executive, Carter Murray.

What was your first ever job?

My first ever job was cleaning boats. My first proper, steady job, however, was as an assistant account executive at Leo Burnett Chicago.

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?

“Guru” (as in “marketing guru”). Most people called gurus actually are not. And this misnomer often causes havoc within client organizations and the creative process more generally.

Who would you most love to share a coffee with?

My mother and father. I lost them both two years ago, within six months of each other, and still miss them terribly.

Highlight of your career (so far?)

The first was getting to work with Harry MacAuslan, THE gentleman of advertising (now retired) and the second was persuading Susan Credle to come to FCB and be my creative partner.

What piece of tech can you not live without?

Sadly (and my wife will very much attest to this) – it's my bloody telephone.

What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?

Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay. I read it when I was thirteen and it absolutely got to me. I loved the boxing, wildlife, Africa and personal narratives, but most of all, the constant reminder to “think first with your head and then with your heart.”

What one question do you never want anyone to ask you?

Why are you so obsessed with dim sum?

Best advice you ever heard or received?

Shut up and listen.

What do you still want to achieve in your career?

Balance.

What industry event is most important to you to attend and why?

Cannes. It saves me multiple trips around the world, as everyone is centralized there, and I get to talk about our industry with some of the most groundbreaking work all around us, to inspire and push us to always do better. It’s always long and busy work hours, but it all happens in a ridiculously civilized setting.

Check out other interviews as part of the 10 Questions With… series.

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‘Bang for our buck’: how MSIG's first-ever CMO plans to reinvent insurance marketing

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As the first-ever person to hold the chief marketing officer role at MSIG Holdings (Asia), Rebecca Ang Lee believes her most immediate priorities is to ensure alignment of the insurer in the online space, develop a regional sustainability direction, and promote digital transformation through innovation within the company and industry to stay relevant.

MSIG, which is a part of the Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company within the MS&AD Insurance Group, promoted Lee, who oversaw brand and communications and business excellence across ASEAN, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand as senior vice-president, in October.

Lee has wasted no time in getting down to work, ensuring that MSIG customers can expect dynamic websites with better user experience across its markets in the region. MSIG Vietnam was the first to complete the revamp early this year, with Lee pushing for more markets to complete their respective websites in the next couple of months.

“The new website was built with the users’ experience in mind and I am looking forward to getting our customers’ feedback. Content on our social media channels are also progressively evolving to better serve our customers,” she explains. “A success story to quote is MSIG Indonesia – we started out with less than 1k followers and achieved a substantial leap to about 90k today just after a year of introducing refreshed content.”

“We hope to replicate this success in the other markets, taking local preferences and nuances into consideration. Ultimately, our goal is to engage our customers with useful content that can aid them in their insurance purchase journey.”

MSIG’s sustainability agenda is now managed by the brand and communications team, which is led by Lee, after the creation of the sustainability taskforce for Asia. She explains this means she can embed the key messages into the group’s internal and external communications, therefore strengthening its brand building efforts.

“The goal is to ensure MSIG’s medium-term management plan ‘Vision 2021’, which emphasizes sustainability as a key focus for the group, is carried on. “With the creation of the sustainability taskforce for Asia, we hope to complement our group’s initiatives and achieve greater impact together,” she says.

“As sustainability is becoming an issue of growing importance around the region, and in the world, we have a responsibility to support this agenda. We will need to build a sustainability mindset and culture from within the organization, and are looking to collaborate with partners to engage and educate all staff.”

Lee is also trying to promote innovation within the company and industry through partnerships to catch up with its rivals like NTUC Income, which ranked the highest in Singapore when it comes to being future ready for digital transformation, while MSIG came in 22nd. It has since signed a deal with start-up accelerator Plug and Play which will see it become a founding anchor partner of Plug and Play’s Insurtech platform.

The platform aims to invest in and help local and international fintech and Insurtech startups to grow through connecting them to major financial institutions and insurers. It will also allow MSIG to build relationships with start-ups that are developing new technologies and solutions.

According to Lee, this partnership will help MSIG innovate and explore revolutionary ideas as technology is changing at a pace where it is forcing the industry to undergo digital transformation especially in the more mature markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

“From the angle of internal communications, we explored different ways to engage our employees, creating thematic town halls that infuse the creative use of digital apps and tools to create a mindset change from within,” she says.
“The pace of technology also impacts the media channels and landscape. Digital no longer just means website and social media channels. While people are consuming news through social media, they are also getting their entertainment from Netflix, using more smart devices and creating smart homes to manage their lifestyle. This means that consumer digital touchpoints are increasing with new channels to reach out to them. However, budgets are always limited, and the challenge is deciding where to place them to reach out to our desired target audience.”

MSIG's marketing strategy and its relationship with its agencies

With limited budgets and facing the challenges of reaching out to its desired target audience even as they get more connected than ever before and expect seamless experiences when they interact with brands, MSIG wants to focus on its unique selling points of providing great service quality and offering a seamless claims experience for its customers.

Lee, who spent more than two years in total working at agencies like Leo Burnett, Dentsu and Y&R before joining MSIG, is keen to tap on her experience as a communicator and a leader having been on both sides of the fence, to ensure MSIG’s marketing strategy over the long term is relevant and that the company will continuously innovate to improve customer experience.

For example, in Singapore, she points out MSIG was the first to introduce straight-through claims payout using FAST bank transfer, eliminating the time to process cheques and in Thailand, it introduced MSIG SpeeDi, where motor insurance customers are able to get phone assistance within 60 seconds with the touch of a button, have their location triangulated by GPS and sent to a motor surveyor who will arrive on scene within 30 minutes. For Malaysia, MSIG optimized its processes to save claims processing time by over 98% so that customers can get their payment quickly.

“It’s about putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes and challenging the status quo. We have a few customer segments depending on the insurance need, and we target them through consumer insights, behavior and content marketing both offline and online,” she explains.

“The advantage of using online channels is that we’re able to measure our KPIs. However, it does not just stop there, the data needs to be analyzed with follow up action plans to improve on future communication and targeting of our products to customers.”

Lee is also keen to stress MSIG’s marketing strategy cannot succeed if it is not open and honest with its agencies, the key to forging a successful partnership, as they will help them understand the company’s challenges. MSIG’s creative agency is M&C Saatchi and its media agency is Wavemaker.

In addition, she also sees agencies as an extension of her own team and will take time to share information and insights in MSIG’s discussions with its agencies.

“When I joined MSIG two years ago, our branding efforts were only beginning. We were looking for partners who understood our starting point and were keen to grow with us. Two years on, we see both agencies as partners in this journey of brand building, supporting us in our vision to develop MSIG Asia as the centre of excellence,” Lee explains.

Cutting through the noise

Presently, the insurance industry is a saturated one with both life and general insurers vying for a share of voice. It also does not help when there is little differentiation between life and general insurance brands in the eyes of a consumer.

Moving forward, Lee says MSIG approach is to get a ‘bang for our buck’, to be more strategic and creative in its messaging, positioning and targeting. Digital is always a part of MSIG’s media mix as it enables the insurer to target its customers better and is a more cost-effective channel.

“However, we still try to adopt a holistic approach as our research has shown that a combination of traditional and digital media still works best for us to achieve high awareness for a campaign. Also, apart from advertising, it is important to integrate all other customer touch points in the entire buying cycle, from discovery to purchase to repeat customers,” she explains.

“It’s about the synergies of messaging through 360 marketing including in-store experience, PR and research. Pre- and post-campaign research is crucial in understanding the most effective media channel and the research results are always used to improve the media mix for the next campaign.”

There are daunting tasks facing Lee as she tries to future poof MSIG for the future, but moving Lee into the newly-created CMO role is the first step by the insurer to getting there.

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Marketing Day: Pinterest retailer partnerships, the smart speaker market, Facebook Ads

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Here’s our recap of what happened in online marketing today, as reported on Marketing Land and other places across the web.

From Marketing Land:

Recent Headlines From MarTech Today, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Marketing Technology:

Online Marketing News From Around The Web:

The post Marketing Day: Pinterest retailer partnerships, the smart speaker market, Facebook Ads appeared first on Marketing Land.

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