What Is Market Targeting?

By Madison Taylor
March 14, 2019
ladders but only one tall enough to reach the target

Market targeting isn’t completely new on the scene, but lots of businesses have been slow to adopt it. Think of market targeting like darts — you want to throw straight and score highly, but that doesn’t mean firing willy-nilly and hoping you hit something. It also doesn’t mean aiming for the easy targets or even the obvious ones — the bullseye at the center of the dartboard isn’t even the most valuable spot on the board.

The Old Days Of Mass Marketing

Back in the day, marketing meant “mass marketing.” There was no internet, no mobile apps, and no streaming services. There were far fewer TV networks, fewer magazines, and fewer newspapers. We used to market toys to “kids of all ages” and sell to demographics like “housewives” or “blue-collar workers.”

But such broad swaths of the market don’t make sense any more. Marketing means targeting your appeals to a specific audience. There are plenty of products with broad appeal, of course, but even those appeal to different segments for different reasons and are marketed as such. iPhones are bought by teenagers, c-suite executives, and construction workers, but the marketing efforts directed at them are very different.

That’s why mass marketing is dying out. The spray-and-pray approach doesn’t work any more, and even companies whose products have broad appeal have found that their marketing efforts are more effective if they target separate campaigns to each segment.

How To Get Started With Market Targeting

The goal of market targeting boils down to this: don’t go after opportunities that won’t be easy to close. Every marketer’s worst nightmare is a client who describes their target audience as “everyone.” Would it be great if every person on earth bought your product? Of course. But that’s not likely to happen, and it’s a waste of your time and energy to pursue leads that you can’t close.

That means that there are two aspects to market targeting — the first is focusing on the strongest prospects and how to reach them. The second, just as important as the first, is knowing who not to pursue. Some of your prospects are simply not likely to buy from you, so your time and effort are better spent elsewhere.

That’s the part that most businesses don’t understand. Rather than avoiding weak prospects — or simply prospects that aren’t a good fit for their business — they spend their valuable marketing dollars on reaching as wide an audience as possible.

Strong leads buy quickly, have low acquisition costs, and become loyal customers who will buy quickly and repeatedly. Weak prospects won’t become repeat customers, won’t renew contracts, and may not even have a lifetime value greater than what they cost you in the first place.

It’s easy to think that any acquired customer is a win — you made a sale, right? But if you’re not turning a profit out of the acquisition, which is even more likely the harder you had to work to acquire them, then you’d have been better off not making it at all.

That’s the purpose of market targeting. You need to establish a clear sense of who’s most likely to buy from you so that you can spend your marketing and sales efforts on finding more strong prospects, rather than expanding your search horizontally to include weak prospects.

Good market targeting doesn’t just mean having the wherewithal to find strong prospects — it means having the courage to say no to attractive opportunities that aren’t your best bet to turn a conversion.