Target customer: what it is and how to define it for your business

Target customer answers what it is and how to define it for your business, in the process of devising an effective and successful marketing strategy, is one of the preliminary steps a company faces in the start-up phase to achieve its business goals.

This process is the pivot around which all business decisions revolve concerning the communication of one’s product, the evaluation of the price, and the desired positioning, with the objective of transforming the target audience into potential buyers.

The study of the potential customer, therefore, assumes a key role, whose profile is effectively defined by the volume of qualitative information available, helping to minimize and rationalize expenditure.

Currently, the most salient data for the purposes of a search campaign can be found on the Web, which is why it is a must to possess skills that can be acquired through a specific training course, such as the Digital Coach® Digital Sales Course in which you will learn how to increase your customers through new online sales techniques.

In the meantime, we are going to address this topic, allowing you to understand:

  • what are Target Customers
  • how best to define it and the profiling process
  • how to find it and potential channels

What are Target Customers?

The target customer is the group of consumers that the company considers to be most receptive to its offer and to whom it wants to turn to sell its products and services in order to monetize them. When it starts a business, the sales segment within which to act must be carefully studied through careful and precise market analysis, as nothing can be left to random assumptions and suppositions.

This is the only way to obtain salient information useful for the elaboration of a communication strategy consistent with the target audience and to customize the offer in relation to their needs and consumption habits.

The factors considered for a targeting strategy are variable in conjunction with changes in the target group, which is why a correct definition of the target group is essential, as it allows timely adjustments to be made to the offer and communication techniques used.

This planning process applies both to Business to Consumer, where the offer is as circumscribed and sector-specific as possible, and to Business to Business, where it is constructed by adapting it to the values and vision of the entrepreneurs.

Another fundamental point to consider is that a company’s marketing target does not always correspond to the final consumer of the product or service. In fact, sometimes, the person making the purchasing maneuver is not the same person as the consumer, and companies must build their strategic business considering this usual eventuality.

This situation can occur, for example, when parents purchase a product for their child, in which case the company can build its campaign by focusing on the quality of the product to entice and reassure the parents, while at the same time creating more engaging content or images for the child.

There is another concept that goes hand in hand with that of the customer target group, i.e. the Buyer Personas, which, unlike the previous one, in addition to the socio-demographic profile of the target group, also combines psychological and motivational characteristics.

Now that we have understood the nature of the customer target and its indispensable role in the initial sales phase of a company, let us look at what the process of defining it consists of, without which we would act indiscriminately on the entire economic fabric.

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How do you define the right target customers for your business?

The assumption to start from is that to make its business sustainable and effective, a company must ensure that there is already a market in the economic circuit that is interested in the products or services it provides, so a well-defined target customer is absolutely necessary. Once this first step has been taken, it is then necessary to narrow the field of analysis to the demographic factor, more specifically to the demographic and economic characteristics of the potential customer, identifying their priorities and purchasing preferences. We then proceed to understand the importance of the target audience.

The Target Audience

The Target Audience is the assumed target audience consisting of the consumers most likely to make the purchase step.

the term target customerThe customer target audience is organized into different levels of interest and different target audiences for an organization, depending on whether it is a brand or product and service promotion campaign, which is why the company is required to convey the message it wants to convey very carefully, adopting a tailor-made communication according to the different cases.

Defining the target audience is also important for the working synergy to be created between the marketing department and the sales channel of a company, in order to establish a common purpose.

There are several points to consider in order to arrive at an in-depth knowledge of one’s target audience:

  • Demographic data: these are criteria used to define a specific part of the population, such as age, gender, level of education, occupation, and marital status.
  • Localization: geographically circumscribe your target audience according to your strategy, while taking into account a possible expansion of your business in the future.
  • Identify decision-makers and possible influencers: you can provide yourself with databases, useful to indicate who influenced the purchasing process and who is using them after making the final decision.
  • Interests and opinions: reconstructing the personality of our end customers through their attitudes, ideas, and beliefs.
  • Ask the right questions: it is important to continue to question the concrete motivations that might drive a buyer to purchase one of our products or services, as well as to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of satisfying their needs.

Detailed profiling is then carried out, which should enable us to bring ourselves as closely as possible on the same level as the potential customer and to trace their characteristics as distinctively as possible.

The target market and segmentation

Market segmentation is closely related to the identification of the target market on which a company wants to start a targeting study. Segmenting means dividing the market into several similar subsets with common characteristics, so as to be able to circumscribe the segment of the population on which one wants to act.

There are respectively two methods of audience segmentation:

  • Rule-based segmentation: the audience is divided into groups of homogeneous subsets, based on pre-determined criteria from the outset and the results of previous analyses. Without in-depth knowledge, the extrapolated information will not be qualitative, so the segmentation will be ineffective.
  • Cluster-based segmentation: in this case, we limit ourselves to observing the similarities found between possible customers, for example by collecting information from visitors to our site, which leads us to discover similarities not initially considered.

Through segmentation, one has the opportunity to identify the main advantages offered to one’s customers, while remaining objective and avoiding being drawn into a self-confirming bias of interpretation.

Once the target market has been identified, there is also the possibility of further micro-segmentation, which allows companies to measure themselves against highly competitive market niches.

The study of competition

To ensure long-lasting sales activity, a company cannot avoid measuring quantitatively and qualitatively the presence of competitors in the market in which it operates.

It is not always possible to know clearly and precisely the totality of sales realities of products and services in each geographic area, which is precisely why it is useful not to neglect this analysis at all, as the more data one can collect, the more one will be able to develop a competitive and sustainable strategy.

The objective is to make oneself as competitive as possible by exploiting the different channels we have at our disposal, which nowadays are undoubtedly more and more indicative than in the past.

One can start with the pages and social profiles of other companies, concentrating mainly on customer comments and feedback, to arrive at participation in trade fairs and events organized by the latter where one can interact with those present, understanding their needs and requirements.

The main reason for studying customers and their behavior is to probe the level of trust that makes them renounce their status quo and push themselves to buy something unknown to their habits.

As we have seen, defining an optimal target customer requires a mixture of different elements that must be the driving force behind a marketing strategy that can be sustainable in the medium to long term, but above all has the flexibility to adapt to a world market that is constantly and rapidly changing.

These characteristics are necessary not only in business but also in freelance work, which is why technical preparation such as that of the course to become a Digital Coach online consultant is necessary.

How to find the target customer?

Once the process of defining one’s specific target customers is complete, the next step is to start the process of searching for customers in the offline and online worlds, to test the reliability of one’s strategic engagement plan and possibly revise or rework it.

To answer the question of how to find the target customer, one must consider that there are respectively two types of customers, the potential ones and the already acquired ones, i.e. those target groups that can be reached through careful social listening, i.e. checking and researching what are the most common needs and problems in the respective sector.

On the other hand, as far as potential customers are concerned, one of the most frequently used tools is the survey, which makes it possible to find out information about the tastes and desires of buyers and to push them to communicate the source from which they have come to know about our reality, already creating a certain base from which to start.

Nowadays, given the widespread use of Social Networks, the Social Listening mentioned above must coexist with Web Strategies, which together allow a company to be in step with the times and use the right recruiting channels.

Social Listening and Web Strategies

Social Listening is a customized human-centric communication practice, i.e. putting the focus on the preferences of our buyers. This profiling of target customers often takes place with a company check on community or competitor focus groups, which arise spontaneously and provide very reliable and useful data on the sense of belonging to a given brand. 

social listening and strategiesIn particular, they are crucial resources for improving the goods and services provided.

In order to fully exploit the enormous potential of Social Listening, the fundamental idea that is the company drive must be that it is always good to place ourselves on the same level as our target audience and demonstrate our willingness to take part in debates and conversations, to give the idea that the Brand, while being such, is always composed of individuals and therefore open to dialogue.

In addition to direct interventions in the community, companies can implement Web Strategies to monitor and circumscribe the areas of interested customers where they want to intervene or find information. These strategies are applied through the use of specific tools that act on the Web and social networks, where if we have an online business, we find our consumers.

Let’s get to know the main ones:

  • Google Analytics: a platform of excellence for understanding the volume of buyers who have actually purchased, but more importantly through behavioral profiling, the interception of indispensable information, and knowing how visitors found out about the site, the type of products they preferred, and those they purchased in the past. To start using the service, log in to the platform and create your account.
  • Google Ads: a platform that allows us to filter the target customers, and the various categories of people on which we have organized our sales campaign, giving us the advantage of proposing the right product at the right time, but above all to the right customers.
  • Google Alerts and Mention: they allow constant monitoring of the most frequently asked questions and issues in our target sector, as well as giving us a valuable indication of the places most frequented by our target customers.
  • Facebook Audience Insights: Social media also provide salient information, such as this Facebook tool, which highlights the latest trends concerning our existing or potential customers.
  • Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest Insights: if you have a business account, you can also find numerous data in these networks via Insights.

There are many tools we can use to store and then utilize important information about our demand, but the most commendable thing is that we can use it to plan our future business and target it in certain areas, saving money and time.

Social Selling

There is no doubt that Social Media is now a powerful and more than ever current means of increasing a company’s notoriety and consequently its business.

Strengthened by this awareness, companies have introduced Social Selling into their operational plan, i.e. an interaction through social platforms with their potential customers, based on an enhancement of their personal branding.

The objective is to achieve the loyalty of one’s own demand and to increase it more and more as time goes by; this process, however, takes place by respecting certain criteria for the realization of one’s own advertising, since one must try to be as clear and concise as possible, both towards the end customer and towards one’s own colleagues, who will have their work considerably simplified.

The process of Social Selling aimed at the action of our target customers of interest takes place through the interception of salient information that customers provide on Social, trying to extrapolate the best and most useful for the purposes of one’s own strategy.

Once these elements have been studied, one proceeds to the creation of funnels, where the drive must be to ensure that the customer has a unique experience with respect to one’s own product, imparting useful knowledge about its characteristics.

Another context that must undoubtedly be taken care of is that of the interactions between company and follower, where the former must always be available for dialogue and clarification of any doubts.

Market niches

In the collective imagination of sales realities, it is thought that continually acquiring as many customers as possible is a strong indicator of growth and business health, but this is definitely not the case.

Based on the assumption that if a business is a start-up, it is clear that the objective is to increase demand; however, if it is already well established, the priority is to increase the quality of the service offered by retaining existing customers.

So we need to segment our client right from the start, targeting a niche, i.e. a small number of people who share common needs, characteristics, and desires.

With this type of business policy, we will have a qualitative increase in the catchment area of our customers, who will not be generic resources induced to interact and buy from us just to make up the numbers but will be more predisposed to enjoy our services and products. With the study of these business ecosystems, we will not only guarantee a quality user base, but we will also be able to retain it, monitor it, and avoid unnecessary surpluses that would otherwise lead to inefficiency and wasted time.

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To take stock

Target customer is an indispensable arrow in the bow of any sound marketing planning strategy, allowing for long-lasting survival in the market and to be always current and competitive.

We started by explaining what this is all about and then went on to discuss how in the decision-making phase it is important to identify and define the target group on which to act and contextualize it in an optimal target market and its competitors.

Subsequently, they understood how and where to find and monitor their customers, with the help of tools that exploit the algorithms of the most popular social networks.

Lastly, we concluded by emphasizing how important it is to have a quality that can be acquired in a niche market, rather than an uncontrollable volume of customers that might paradoxically represent a deficit rather than added value.

There is no doubt about it: a sales business cannot in any way ignore the study of its customer target group if it wants to survive in an increasingly competitive world.

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