Targeting & Positioning

I find myself walking through some marketing basics with our clients time and time again. The first question I usually ask is “Who is your target customer?” The answer I often get is some variation of “anyone who wants my stuff.” The problem with that answer, is that it becomes very difficult to position your goods and services in a unique way if you’re going for the lowest common denominator. As counter-intuitive as it might seem, limiting your target market (within reason of course) is often a first-step to successfully marketing your stuff.

So, if you can find a way to be the coolest thing ever for a smaller slice of the market- you’ll likely capture more sales from that smaller slice than if you try and be everything to everyone unsuccessfully. Which leads us to the second question I ask, “What do you differently (for your target customer) than your competitors?” You’ll hear this referred to as your “value proposition” or your “unique selling proposition” or your “differentiation” or “reason to buy”… whatever it’s called, it’s the thing that makes your clients want to buy your stuff instead of someone else’s stuff. And, it’s much easier to communicate it when you’ve successfully identified your target customer.

So I suggest, you think about who your target customer is? And give him or her a name… like Sally, the 30-45 year old mom who lives in the suburbs and doesn’t want to have to get in the car all the time… or maybe it’s Jack, a geek-y guy who wants to have the latest tech-gadget… or in the business-to-business (B2B) world, maybe it’s Simon, a small local business person with a retail store who has been in business for five years and is interesting in growing sales at a faster rate. Imagine if you’re offering online ordering to Sally and an online widget to Jack and a web site to Simon… you can describe it in terms of a solution to their needs/wants—instead of just as a description of your products.

You can even think about how some large companies might imagine their target customer – and how it plays out into their marketing. For example, who is Apple’s target customer for their iphone? For the ipod? Who is it for their first generation products? Vs. their second or later generation products? Isn’t that how they get people to pay $600 for an iPhone when it’s first launched- vs. $200 a year later? Having the iphone when it’s first launched means you’re a cool, hip, design-oriented person who can afford a $600 phone. And, the folks who buy the $200 phone (that’s probably much better), are willing to be a little less cool and hip by waiting the year.

So, who is your target customer? What is it about your product that is different from the rest..?