There seems to be some confusion about the definition of a target market. Apparently, some people still think this definition should be based solely on who their company has decided to sell to.Definitions like these are still commonly heard:The group of people your company wants to reach.Companies in X industry with >$50M revenues and 100+ employees.The people your company wants to buy your product.CXOs.
You may be nodding your head, but I ask you to consider who each of those statements are about.All of those statements are about what the company wants. There's no consideration in any of the definitions for the prospective customer. And yet, the top marketing priorities for most companies are finding new audiences and improving the results from lead generation efforts. Interesting, don't you think?
This is mostly because companies haven't yet ceded control of the buying process to the buyers. They seem to have a hard time in flipping their thinking to an outside-in perspective. Well, it's time to get with the program. Especially in this economy. Otherwise you'll waste more resources missing the mark than you'll spend getting results.Consider that the definition of target market is better served by something like this:People with priorities your products help them answer.Here's why:People are too busy to solve anything but their highest priorities.Budgets are constrained.
When a choice has to be made, the urgent issues will get the most attention.Even if someone meets your definition of a person/company you'd like to sell to, if they have no pressing reason to buy what you sell, you're done. A statement like the above puts the prospect front and center in your strategic targeting process. Which is exactly where they should be.Upon further thought, perhaps the definition needs further refinement.
How about:People with priorities your products and expertise help them answer.After all, products like yours can likely be purchased from a variety of vendors. Your expertise is what differentiates you from competitors and escalates your value beyond just your product. People are looking for strategic ideas that help them move their companies ahead-especially during a complex purchase process with a lot of moving parts. Prospects buy products from vendors. They rely on expertise from trusted partners and advisors. Those are the people they build relationships with for the long haul.Did you notice I'm using people and not companies? I'm doing that for a specific reason.
You help a person (usually a number of them) within a company buy from you. You need to know that person, their preferences and perspective. The "company" isn't going to interact with you. The people who bring the company to life are. In the age of conversation where there's higher levels of trust for peers and colleagues-instead of vendors-you also need to direct efforts toward those who influence their decisions.So, now we need to expand the target market definition a little farther:People with priorities your products and expertise help them answer; and the people involved in conversations with them about how to best achieve needed outcomes.
This is a wholly different focus than the old-school target market definitions orchestrated from an inside-out approach. It's not about the company, it's about your prospects and customers.It's not about what you want, it's about what they need.What you say during their buying process will not be interpreted as high value your prospects MUST have without corroboration from influencers. Obviously that means there's a lot more work involved in defining your target market than choosing the decision maker you want to sell your products to.How do you define your target market? Would you add something to my definition? Would you do it differently? Why?
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