A 15-Question Process for Painless Target Market Research

Target market research is one of the most important types of research you’ll do throughout marketing your business. It’s also one of the most difficult.

I believe that most businesses are uniquely suited to serve a narrowly defined target market or ideal client.

Determining just who that is, and making their description a central theme of all of our marketing communications, is one of the foundational elements of good marketing strategy.

There are countless ways to research, measure, analyze and theorize about your target market or ideal target client, but experience tells me most small businesses don’t have to look very far beyond these 15 questions.

  1. What gender is your target market? Are they male, or female, or an even mix?
  2. How old is your target market? The age of your target market determines the presentation of your brand.  It also affects the tone and message you use when you connect with your target market.
  3. What habits do they have? This describes what your target market likes. Habits are also sometimes referred to as psychographics and relate to values, beliefs, and lifestyles.
  4. What is their income level? Is your target market middle-class, wealthy, or barely able to pay the bills?
  5. Where do they live? Is your target market national, worldwide, or just your local neighborhood?
  6. What are their hobbies and interests? Does your target market share any of your hobbies and interests?
  7. Do they have any special needs or health issues? It’s important to take special needs into consideration when researching your target market. For example, some people who have sustained a traumatic brain injury can have seizures if presented with bright, flashing colors. Does your target market have any special needs you need to be mindful of?
  8. What media do they read? Is your target market avid blog readers? Do they even know what a twitter is? Knowing what media your target market reads will help give you insight into the topics that interest them.
  9. What other websites do they visit most often? Again, knowing what websites your target market spends the most time on helps you understand what topics, issues, and leisure activities are important to them. It also gives you some clues about how and where to promote your company.
  10. Do they subscribe to any magazines or publications? Knowing which magazines your target market subscribes to can be a great source of research. For example, most magazines have media kits available on their websites that detail the demographics and lifestyle of their readers.
  11. What is their greatest fear? Something that reduces or eliminates the fear of your target market  is a powerful means of attracting them.
  12. What is their greatest frustration? If your target market is frustrated over a problem, how can you build your company around the solution? If you can do that, your target market will feel excited they’ve found the answer to their problem in your company.
  13. What is their greatest hope or dream? Does your target market have a common hope or dream you can incorporate into your company that they relate to?
  14. What event or need causes them to search for what you offer? Do you know what causes your target market to seek your help in the first place?
  15. Is there anything you have in common with them? Sharing a common interest, problem, skill, or passion with your target market can give you a huge advantage when building your company. The common ground you have will help your target market identify with your company and engage them faster – encouraging interaction and more sales.

The answers to the types of questions above are not always available, but pondering them in relationship to your target market or ideal customer may allow you to more fully address their wants and needs in every interaction and communication.