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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Caldwell

How to define your Target Audience (it's not EVERYONE!)

So in the last blog, I talked about the first step in becoming a loved brand being to define your target market and I’ve had a couple of people ask me how to do this for a tourism business, especially when you pretty much just want anyone who is travelling through your area to come and spend some money with you. And that’s true. But there is power in refining your position in the market and connecting on a deeper level with your customer. It’s all about relevancy and relating to the person on the other side of the counter.

So what exactly is a target market? It’s a set of individuals sharing similar needs or characteristics that your company hopes to serve. These individuals are usually the end users most likely to book your experience.

It would be fair to say that none of us has unlimited resources at the moment but if you have a really clear idea of who your target audience is, you can direct any resources you have to those customers who have the highest potential to visit and spend money in your business as they’ll be interested in what you have to offer.

Identifying a target market helps you develop effective marketing communication strategies.

Now let me be clear – if you determine a target market of say 35-50yr old females from Auckland who have children, that is by no means discounting the importance of 20 year old males from visiting! It just means that you are focused on the highest potential market to visit. If you have multiple product offers, you may need to look at defining a target audience for each.

You have put in the long hours and finally finished creating that killer tourism experience, but your work is not yet done – now you need to introduce people to this offering. While it is relatively simple to develop general advertising for the masses, devoting time and resources to identify more targeted markets can help you maximize your marketing ROI.

So you need to start by sharpening your focus – really prioritise your efforts.

Who is most likely to visit and purchase your experience? As you answer this question, consider factors like age, buying power, geographical location, and marital status. Take, for instance, a recent uni graduate who has just started her first job – she will have different needs than a mother of four teenage children. Both women require food and shelter, but at the same time, they might choose to spend their discretionary income in very different ways.

So think about and determine what needs your product fulfils, and that will help you to think through a sharper lens.

You could also use a funnel approach – you might start with gender, then age range, and then income bracket. As you move through these successive filters, you will eventually arrive at a more focused target market for your experience. You can experiment with the order of the sieves and different combinations of filters to see whether you receive a different final result. These final groups you arrive at will make it easier to find the sweet spot that is the intersection of “highly interested” and “able to buy.”

Choosing the right markets also means infusing conclusions with objective data. This data might come from a variety of sources.

This might mean conducting surveys via e-mail blasts or newsletters, some businesses call on market research companies to help too – especially if you’re launching a brand new business or experience. Either way, the key is to collect demographic data in your surveys. This can enable you to correlate positive responses to your experience with specific demographic groups – the same groups that you should later target.

Have a look inside your business currently – you’ll be amazed at what data you might have access to via your booking system and customer monitor data. What demographic groups are booking these experiences? When do they book them? Which specific experiences are most popular?

Talk to others around you, your RTO may be able to help, or other operators in the region. The next time you are with family or friends, look at travel they do and the experiences they book. Would they purchase your own product or experience? Asking questions as straightforward as, “Would you use this? Do you have a need for this product?” or, “Do you know anyone who would use this?” can provide you with valuable data. You can run famils with local industry as well and ask them the same questions. Be a sponge for insights and data.

Once you’ve established your target audience, create a complete description of the person. This is called a buyer persona and is a comprehensive description of your target customers that will create detailed, vivid images of the exact person your employees will think about when making every decision in the business.

Open a document and start writing the description. Include things like:

· Name

· Age

· Gender

· Job Description

· Hobbies

Go into extreme detail. Talk about the daily tasks the person does at their job. Talk about they do on the weekends with their family and friends. The more details you can include the easier it will be for you to target this person. Go as far as including a photo of the person. If it’s a real person, find their photo. If it’s not a real person, find a photo online that fits your vision and include it in the profile. Think about how this person shops, what media do they consume, what drives their decision making, what needs do they have that you can fulfil?

Defining your target market is the single most important business decision you’ll make and remember – not everyone is your customer!

I hope this has give you some insight into the importance of defining your market and some tips on where to start. It’s a really powerful methodology and will really help clarify your marketing message as well as where you spend your marketing dollars.

The incredible Seth Godin once said

"Don’t cater for the masses. Cater to your ideal customer. A product for everyone is a product for nobody. You must focus on your most profitable market segment, the one with the most growth potential, the ones that are most influential – and then design a product or service them.

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