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Whether you chose to use the services of an outside contractor or not, we will not repeat it enough, digital marketing should not be opportunistic. A good campaign is thought ahead, planned, implemented and analyzed.

Today I would like to highlight a few points that will help with the “thinking ahead” portion and help you identify your target market(s).

1. Don’t limit yourself
I highly recommend to define 2 or 3 target markets. One that will be your core target and 1 or 2 secondary ones. Putting all your eggs in the same basket has never proven to be a durable strategy. Unless your product ONLY appeals to one specific & very define target, think broader. Potentially, think about alternative use of your product or service. Secondary targets are not where you will be putting most of your energy but they are worth keeping in the back of your mind and understanding as you’re preparing your strategic plan.

On another end, defining your target market as “everyone and their brothers” is probably too general. Targeting a specific market does not mean that you have to exclude people that do not fit your criteria from buying from you. Rather, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing dollars and brand message on a specific market that is more likely to buy from you than other markets. This is a much more affordable, efficient, and effective way to reach potential clients and generate business.

How to define your target markets? Look at your customer base! You don’t have one yet? Check out your competition!

2. Define their needs & wants
Why would they be interested in purchasing your product/service? And what are their hidden motivations? More often than not that will be your key for a great content marketing campaign.

You may be asking, “How do I find all this information?” Try searching online for research others have done on your target. Search for magazine articles and blogs that talk about your target market or that talk to your target market. Search for blogs and forums where people in your target market communicate their opinions. Look for survey results, or consider conducting a survey of your own. Ask your current customers for feedback.

This last part is the most important one. One-on-one interviews with key representatives of your target market can bring out a wealth of knowledge. It can be as easy as throwing an event for your customers and navigating the crowd, introducing yourself and asking the most relevant questions in a nonchalant manner. You’ll get 2 things: the information you need and the gratitude of your customer for being listened to and feeling very special.

3. Do your homework
If you’re working on strategic plan for a digital campaign, you want to know what utilization your target markets are doing of the digital medias. Some handy resources:
Pew Internet publishes reports regarding internet use among various demographics. Type of info you can find there: “As of February 2012, some 15% of online adults use Twitter, and 8% do so on a typical day.”
– Scarborough issues press releases with useful data and sometimes publishes free studies. An example of press-release: “Denver, Portland and Seattle Adults Nearly Three Times More Likely than All Adults 21+ to Reach for the Local Brew.” (Philly people don’t even make the list, so surprised!)
– Also look for free studies by Arbitron. Some good stuff there as well…

Again, don’t be afraid to ask. If you have a customer database, a simple online survey might do miracles helping you understand where your customers fit the trend.

Do you have any tips & tricks in defining or surveying your target markets? Some success stories you want to share with us? Some unsolved issues that we might be able to help with? Express yourself in the comment section!