Identifying a target audience for their marketing efforts is often one of the most difficult things for businesses to get their heads around. There is a commonly held misconception that in identifying and marketing to a particular target segment, you are somehow going to alienate lots of other people who may otherwise be flocking to buy your product(s). Surely, goes the thinking, it’s better to have a broad appeal and then your potential customer base is wider? Isn’t it?
Well, no. The problem is that in trying to appeal to everyone, you will actually appeal to no one.
Tom Fishburne summed it up well when he said:
A target market is not the same as anyone who could conceivably buy a product. It’s not a catch-all classification. A target market is deliberately exclusive. That’s what gives it teeth. It is what compels consumers to identify with your brand. It is what gives you insight to speak to them so clearly.
Successful brands evoke an emotional connection with their consumers. To achieve this, people have to know what you stand for and who you’re aimed at.
The classic example here is Apple – they have always, and continue to be positioned as being for creative types. This doesn’t mean that most of the developed world haven’t bought into the brand, whether they’re creative or not. But part of their success comes from the inherent strength of the emotional association that they have created – we know what Apple is all about and we know why they do what they do and who they do it for.
How well do you know your target market?
Update, 13 January 2014: just spotted a neat post by Seth Godin that builds on this.