If you’re a fisherman, you won’t throw bait in the water, walk away and expect the fish to jump out and find you. If you do that and it actually works, then there’s really no need for you to read any further.

Research

Let’s go with the fisherman analogy. What does a good fisherman do? He (or she) reads up about the area and finds out what the fish in that specific environment like. The fisherman might even talk to a few local fishermen to find out what works for them. Then he goes out and buys specific bait. He has one or two fishing rods, and he gets them ready with just the right amount of smelly goodies to attract the fish. The lines are thrown out and the fisherman waits. If he did his research correctly and spent some time on the details, he is bound to catch a fish.  

The aim for most startups or small businesses is to get clients. We are the fishermen who need to keep our lines in the water. Big companies—think Apple, Nike and McDonalds—are the ones who can just throw bait willy-nilly and the fish will come after them. I’m assuming that you don’t have the years of brand exposure and massive marketing budgets (yet) that these companies do. That is why you really can’t afford to target everyone.

Find your target market

So, how do you find your target market? Whether you are selling hairdryers or painting houses, you can identify a target market. Think…

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Specific Interests
  • Specific Areas

For example, if it’s hairdryers, focus on a specific age group and what they want. Let’s say you decide to focus on female teenagers, aged 16-18, who are interested in beauty products. What do they want? They want to look good and use products that look good. They also want to fit in with their friends. Market your product by focusing on these areas.

Everyone loves a freebie

To start, give a few hairdryers away for free and ask the recipients to rave about it on Instagram or Twitter. If you have a say in the design of the product, ask for bright colors or something different in the design that would appeal to teens. When it comes to placing advertisements—on social media or print—you already have a clear idea of your target market, so the focus of your content would be on them. When you’ve established your product and your profits look good, then you can start expanding your scope to include, for example, hairdryers for the adventurous traveler.

Focus

The important thing is that you are focusing all your time, money and energy on specific potential clients. You are doing the research on your target market and giving them what they want. Your chances of getting a “bite” increase when you become specific with your “bait.”

What about the guy who paints houses? Why not scrap houses and focus specifically on schools? He might need to buy a higher ladder and expand his collection of brushes and rollers, but he would be focusing his energy on his target market. His business cards and advertisements in the local newspaper would be different from the other painters, because he offers a unique service—specializing in painting schools. If you are the governing body in charge of hiring someone to paint the school, would you choose Mike the Painter or Harvey the Specialist in Painting Schools?

If you spend some time figuring out who your target market is, you will save so much energy and time. Marketing will also become less of a headache, because you have a clear focus and you eliminate generalizations and vague mumbo-jumbo.

Happy fishing!