How to grab business by targeting a highly specific market

Shampoo is marketed to specific target markets.I’m going to tell you something you already know. You know it, but I’m going to tell you again, because you probably don’t do it.

First, something to consider…

In our house, if you wander into the bathroom and poke your head behind the shower curtain. You will find quite a number of bottles crammed onto the tiny shelf. Including, not just one, but three separate bottles of shampoo. A white bottle with a blue lid for me, a tall architecturally designed cream bottle with a peach lid for my wife, and a transparent bottle of golden liquid for our kids.

Why the hell do we need three bottles of shampoo? They all do more or less exactly the same thing – clean hair.

We have them because shampoo companies know something. It’s the same thing that you already know.

You need to define your target market, and sell directly to them

Most small businesses, when asked who their target market is, have a version of the same answer.

“Anyone” or “Anyone with money”

The idea being that by targeting everybody, they have a larger potential market. Wrong! This strategy is leaving money on the table.

Back to shampoo… Do they sell less shampoo because one brand is targeted to only men? NO they sell more, a metric boatload more.

By targeting a specific, well defined market, it is easier to understand their problems and communicate how your product or service can solve it for them.

Everyone has hair that needs cleaning, but some have dry hair, oily hair, or an itchy scalp. Those are all specific problems that need solved.

Advertise specifically to your market

My shampoo says ‘for Men with sensitive scalps’. It’s a no brainer… That’s the stuff I need (or at least that I think I need).

By being specific you decommoditize your product or service. A product that fixes a specific issue is more valuable than a generic product.

But the market would be too small

Ok, here’s another example of a sneaky way to get around the problem with a small market. In the Internet marketing world, there is at least one dog training course that is marketed as train your Labrador, train your Great Dane, train your German shepherd and many other popular dog breeds.

It’s the same study course, the only way the course is differentiated is who it is marketed to (Labrador owners or German shepherd owners). Simple tactic but it works because all dog owners know their dog is the best dog breed, and training techniques tailored specifically to their breed is going to be better than general dog training.

Could you market the exact same product to two (or more) specific markets?


Who can you help specifically? Write a list of specific groups of people who you could tailor your product or service to fix their specific problem.

Can you add something to you product or service to make it cater to a specific group?

How-to reports and Tips work great:

  • ‘How to teach your child about bike safety’
  • or ‘7 critical accounting systems for a new service business’

Try something to reach a niche market.

— Rinse and repeat —

photo credit: Cormac Heron

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Targeting your brand

First, your brand won’t appeal to everybody.  Don’t worry this is a good thing;  it shouldn’t appeal to everyone, because not everyone will want to buy your products or services.  An 18-year-old boy isn’t going to buy a crotchet kit, and a 65 year old couple are highly unlikely to purchase a new wakeboard.  With this in mind, ANY time, effort or money spent marketing to these groups is completely wasted.

To increase the effectiveness of your brand and all related advertising and marketing, you need to know who your most likely customers are.  Lets be honest, you already know this… it isn’t rocket science.  It is easy to slip into the “I’ll take money from anyone” mindset (and so you should, but you shouldn’t market to them), or consider it too hard to define your core customers; I’ve been there myself.  But it is CRITICAL to the success of your brand.

Think about it.  If I told you, that you could have all the profits from any nappies you could sell to one hundred people, would you ask the first hundred people you meet? or would you do better asking the next hundred people pushing a stroller?

The more knowledge you have of who your customers are, the easier it is to target them with your branding and marketing.  You can draw better conclusions as to what they want to buy, and why.  What their likes and dislikes are, and how they want themselves to be perceived.  It also gives you an insight into what radio stations they listen to, and what newspapers and magazines they read.

Demographic information you need to know about your customers:

·        Age (range)

·        Employment – Are they management, professional, or owner

·        Location – City, town, region

·        Gender

·        Education

·        Occupation

·        Marital status

·        Ethnicity

·        Income – total household income. Can they afford your products or services

·        Family status – do they have children? What age and stage?


If you supply products or services to businesses, you can also collate demographic information for the businesses you deal with.  Such as:

·        Industry

·        Size of business (sales, no. employees)

·        Type of business (manufacturer, retailer, primary production)

·        Location

·        Geographic scope of the business (regional, national, international)


So how do you get this demographic information for your business?


The best way to gather demographic information is through using market research companies.  However, these can be expensive.

It is possible to do your own research: it is relatively inexpensive to run your own phone survey, or observation of your customers.  My favourite method is to ask your customers if they would be willing to complete a quick questionnaire during the purchase transaction.  You could even offer an incentive such as a prize draw, small discount (or better a bonus).