The Hunt is On – Finding Your Target Market Online

Posted by on Nov 7, 2011 in Marketing Strategies | Comments Off

The Hunt is On – Finding Your Target Market Online

This is a follow up article to Sniper Scope – Increase Sales by Defining Your Target Market which describes what a target market is and how to identify the people most likely to be attracted to your product. If you haven’t already done so, go ahead and give the article a once over to bring yourself up to speed.

Marketing is a major component in your business’ development. Without an effective internet marketing strategy that brings in customers and generates sales, your internet business is just an expensive hobby.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Hobbies are great for relaxing. I have quite a few of my own which include writing fiction, decorating cakes, playing casual games, and collecting music. However, they’re not so great if you are trying to put food on the table or pay your rent. For that, you need a money making business. To make money, you need customers and to get customers, you have to market your business well.

Identifying your target market makes selling your products a whole lot easier. Instead of running around the internet posting your sales message in every online nook and cranny, you’ll save time and money by advertising in places where your clients are most likely to view them.

Creating an effective internet marketing campaign that captures the attention of your target market requires you to think about the ways people find products and services online. In 99.9% of cases, when people need something, they go to sources they trust.

  • Search Engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing
  • Referrals from their social network (friends & family)
  • Favorite websites
  • Online news sources
  • Online classified ads

To show up on your target market’s radar, you have to be in the places where they hang out. I’ll use myself as an example. I am a fiction writer. I’ve been writing fiction since I was a child, which means I’m pretty passionate about this particular hobby.

  • I use a search engines to find tips on writing better
  • I read the blogs of other fiction writers
  • I visit websites that publish news about the publishing industry
  • I own a website that provides creative writing tips
  • I usually buy books about fiction writing in an offline store, BUT I first research them and look for coupons online
  • I belong to several writing forums
  • I used to subscribe to a fiction writer’s magazine but now I go to their website to read recent issues

If I’m part of the target market you’re trying to sell to, then you have to be where I am online. That means having representation in the search engines for the keywords I use as well as advertising on blogs, forums, and online magazines that I visit.

To figure out where your target market spends their time online, you need to use your imagination and put yourself into the shoes of your potential customer. Let me tell you a little story.

You’re Overcharging Them!

For a number of years, I worked in the hotel industry. I loved it. Sometimes I think I might get into again. Long ago, I had a sales manager who was aggressive about squeezing as much money out of our guests as she possibly could. Since her bonus depended on how much revenue the hotel generated each month, this was understandable.

One year, she decided to raise our rates. At the time, I was in school and worked as a front office clerk so I could eat Kraft macaroni and cheese instead of the cheap store brand. In fact, most of my coworkers were just like me – young college kids with no real business experience.

One day she overheard us bitching about the rates and how difficult it was selling people at the higher price point. Understanding that it’s hard to push a product you don’t believe in, she decided to give us a valuable lesson in sales. Though the lesson lasted about half an hour and I’ve pretty much forgotten everything she said at this point, there is one thing that always stuck with me.

“Our clients are not like us. Most of the business customers that come to our hotel have their rooms paid for by their companies. But even our leisure guests have incomes of $50,000 or more. They can afford the $80 per night we are charging to stay at the best hotel in the city.”

And she wasn’t kidding about us being the best hotel in our town. There were, at least, 5 other hotels and none of them came close the quality of our hotel. But enough bragging.

The point she made was a valid one. Our guests could afford our hotel rates, but because we (the employees) couldn’t, we were overlaying our poverty mindset onto our customers and unintentionally putting up roadblocks to selling them on our hotel. Stepping outside myself and looking at our product through the eyes of our target customer made me more comfortable selling our rooms at the higher prices.

Walk in the Shoes of Your Target Market

Just as I had to think like our hotel guests in order to sell to them, you have to think like your customers in order to effectively market to them. Take out a piece of paper and answer the following questions:

  • What types of forums are your customers likely to participate in?
  • What kinds of blogs and online magazines do they read?
  • Do they own web properties? (This is good to know because you can turn your loyal customers into commissioned sales people by having an affiliate program)
  • What types of social networks would they use to connect with people of like mind?
  • What types of keywords would they use to find information online through a search engine?*

(*Keyword research is a subject worthy of its own article series. For now, just jot down some general keywords you think your customers might use.)

Start searching the internet for websites that match what you’ve written down. Try to generate a list of at least 50 places where you can advertise to your target market online. This doesn’t mean you must advertise on every site you have listed but you want a good selection. For more marketing tips, visit the site’s archives.

Related posts:

  1. Sniper Scope – Increasing Sales by Defining Your Target Market

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