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Steps for determining your ideal target market

Marketing, we all know, is hugely important for success in business of whatever kind, because marketing is how we talk to our customers and potential customers. It's how we establish who we are, what we stand for, what we provide, and how we provide it. Marketing is our sole means (initially) of describing for customers and potential customers what sets us apart from our competitors.

But there are a lot of potential customers out there, and some of them, obviously, are more likely than others to gravitate to our particular product, service, etc. That is, we have our ideal customers, those who go hand in glove with what it is we're marketing, and then we have those who have to squeeze a little to make the glove fit, as it were, and those who have to really tug at the thing, and so on. Now, as businesspeople, as marketers, we're there for all our customers, however ideal, but an important part of marketing strategy is to (a) determine who our ideal target market is, and (b) develop a way of marketing that speaks specifically to them, knowing that the others will by a natural process follow. Let's look at this idea in a little more detail below.

- Let's say we develop running shoes. So, what we're going to do now is determine who our ideal target market is. Running shoes are becoming ever more specialized these days, as research becomes ever more scientific as to what best protects the foot from the harsh wear and tear of running, what best maximizes the relationship of muscles running from foot to ankle to calf etc., and so on. As developers of running shoes, then, our ideal target market is serious runners, that is, runners who try to keep abreast of this new information and implement it into their running regime.

- Now, these may not be professional runners, but they are runners-i.e. it's more than a hobby, it's more than an on again, off again way of keeping healthy, and so on. Why is it important that we determine our ideal target market in this way? Because if we come up with strategies to speak straight to the hearts and minds of our ideal target market, we'll develop a solid core of customers around which less ideal but every bit as desired costumers will gather.

- It's finding this "solid core" that's so crucial when marketing, as it will be our mainstay throughout the years to come. Our ideal target market will, ideally, stay with us even as technology, trends, and so forth change. Our ideal target market will ideally stay with us because they know that we are adapting to new technology and trends in order to continue to provide the best product possible for our best clients.

- Staying with the example of running shoes, our ideal target market is "real" runners because they'll always be running, that is, our importance to them will be an ongoing, indeed daily, thing, as they wear out one pair of shoes after another and continually seek a better shoe. The beauty of determining your ideal target market and marketing to them is that (in this example) your "weekend warrior" types of runners won't be left in the cold; they'll be glad just to know that we're catering to the best; and even though they won't go through shoes quite so fast as our ideal customers, they will go through them, and we'll be here for them when they need to upgrade.

- The secret to determining an ideal target market, then, is to take quite literally that word "ideal." It is a mistake, when determining an ideal target market, to try to talk down to our customers, try to cater to the half serious or quarter serious or not really serious at all with the vague idea that this is the sole means by which we'll gather all types of customers into our net. Starting with the "ideal" customer, that is, the wholly serious customer, and marketing specifically to them, will give us a consistent customer base on which to build.

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