Does Target Marketing Make Economic Sense?

I’m a big fan of identifying a target market that reflects your personal passion.

I believe that if you get it right you’ll not only increase your level of personal engagement, but drive meaningful growth. It’s fairly obvious why you’d feel more personally engaged, in this scenario.  However, the impact on growth is also very real because targeting, done well, impacts both profitability and referrals.

Now you might point out that personal engagement is nice, as long as it pays the bills. Good point. So before you jump into the target market deep-end, you’ll want to ensure your target meets two tests.

Test #1: Does the Plan Make Economic Sense?

At the risk of stating the obvious, your version of the ideal target client needs to reflect a meaningful economic opportunity. That opportunity will be influenced by:

  • the size of the potential market
  • your access to that market, and
  • the extent to which your business is built to effectively serve that market

Let’s look at two extreme examples to make the point.

  • If your goal is to work with farmers you can be confident, intuitively, that there’s a substantial market. If, however, you live in the middle of Manhattan, then access may be a problem.
  • Or, you may want to focus on brain surgeons and have a full list of those medical professionals in your community. You have access. But if there are only three brain surgeons in your community, then the access won’t matter—there’s just not enough of a target market.

While you may not need to know the exact number of people in your target market (e.g., because it’s obviously a sizable market), you’ll want to do some analysis on the impact on your existing business. Your long-term goal will, or should, be to transition to an exclusive (or near exclusive) focus on your target market and offer, but you’ll need to make some decisions as to how you make that happen.

Doing the Math

Let’s say your goal is to work with a defined target market, such as doctors. Start by determining what proportion of your existing clients are part of that target market. Based on that answer, examine the potential economic impact of each of the following three scenarios:

  1. What would the impact be if you transferred out any client who does not fit within your ideal target immediately? This is a straight calculation of the assets represented by clients who don’t fit today.
  2. What would the impact be if you kept your existing client base but only accepted new clients who are part of your target? This is an estimate of the growth you might expect if you focused all your attention on attracting your target market. You may also want to factor in some attrition among existing clients who don’t fit within your target.
  3. What would the impact be if you transferred clients who don’t fit, over time, and only accepted new clients who are part of your target? This is an estimate of the length of time it would take to complete the transition if you transferred clients out at roughly the same rate as you attracted new clients.

Your answers to all of these questions will determine if your target market is economically viable and over what period of time.

Test #2: Will the Plan be Meaningful to Your Clients?

Perhaps the bigger test is the one that determines if the target market you have defined will be meaningful to clients and prospects. To test if the plan is meaningful consider a trial balloon and the authenticity test.

Trial Balloon

Start by reaching out to a handful of existing clients and float the idea of a new focus for your business. This is a helpful process to ensure that you’re on the right path. Start by selecting a few clients who are in your new, ideal target market and ask if you can get their input. Try this on for size:

I love working with , just like you. It turns out that I’m already working with a number of clients who fall into this category. I’m thinking of making some significant changes to my business so that I can focus all of my attention on meeting the needs of this target audience. Specifically, that would mean that when I send out articles, they’ll be targeted to these clients and the same holds for workshops we run. And we’ll be adding services and expertise that are targeted to this kind of client.

Then get their reaction. Would they find it appealing? Why? Would it increase your perceived value? Would it make you easier to refer?

I don’t recommend that you ask if they would be more inclined to work with you if you focused exclusively on people like them. Because clients have a relationship with you already, this is too difficult to answer. They can’t go back in time to a point when they didn’t have a relationship with you. It’s a bit like asking if you would have preferred to have had a child with athletic ability; you might like the idea but you’re clearly committed to your existing children. At least I hope so.

The Authenticity Test

The second client test of a target market is something I call the Authenticity Test. You can read more about that here. If you don’t pass the test, go back to the drawing board.

The concept of target marketing is frightening for many of us. We worry if we’re limiting ourselves. We worry if our existing clients will react negatively.

My point is simple. Because working with a target market that energizes and inspires you is worth it, both to drive personal engagement and growth, you owe it to yourself to do the initial assessment. You won’t get there without some impact but it may represent short-term pain for long-term gain.

Thanks for stopping by

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