Any seasoned Internet entrepreneur will tell you that without a target market, your online marketing business will have a difficulty getting off the ground. Marketing and selling your products or services without a well-defined market is like entering unknown territory – you never know what you’ll get. You could, for example, sell cookware to a group of hardcore bikers or market high-end skin care to lower-income housewives and not be aware of it. With a target market, your products or services are more likely to sell and you’ll also have access to the right reviews and feedback later on.

Advantages of defining a market

There are several benefits for knowing which among the segments that make up the market is truly your target area. Here’s why:

– Your product or service will find the right audience. Think about it: would you sell a work-at-home business solution to a home-based mom or to a busy executive?

– A targeted market is much more likely to convert than a general-interest market.

– Your products or services are easier to promote.

– You’re less likely to spend more for marketing and promotion because all your attentions are focused in only one area.

– Your products or services are easier to price.

– You get feedback from the segment of the market that matters to you. It’s far easier to make related adjustments or improvements on the product or service when the reviews or comments come from the very group of people who actually use it.

Steps in defining a target market

Consider these four factors when defining your target market:

Your product or service

Begin with the type of product or service you have or want to offer. That should be the best basis in defining who your target market will be, regardless of whether the product or service is still an idea in your head or already a tangible product or business. What is it about? What is its purpose? How does it work? What makes it attractive? Can it compete side by side with other products or will it fit best in a niche market?

How much will it take to produce the product? Consider the production and delivery costs, along with the manpower required to process not just production but also distribution. Remember that pricing affects your target market.

Potential customers or clients

To define your target market, ask yourself, who will buy my product? Who will have potential need for it? Who will appreciate it? Who will buy it once and who will continue to buy it? What are the demographics of this group and how long can I do business with them? How much will they be willing to pay for the product or service?

Try to observe people’s buying preferences and habits and how often they have bought or paid for similar products and services in the past. If you want a target market that buys from you more frequently, you might want to keep away from groups that tend to be fickle.

Your competition

Conduct some simple research regarding the industry you’re involved in and find out who your competitors are. Find out which similar products and services have captured the largest segment of the market. Can your product or service realistically compete with these? If you conduct a search online about products and services related to your own and come up with over 1,500 online or offline businesses that sell the same stuff, consider if it’s worth the gamble. Generally, the more saturated the market, the more you’ll find big players and known brands. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you should back off, it’s just a sign that you should be careful about entering the same market. Competition can be very tough, particularly for products and services with high or specialized demand.

Your online marketing business’ direction

Another factor that can help you define a target market for your online marketing business is your business goal. Where do you intend to take your business? Targeting twenty-somethings today, for example, may be great for your business but 10 to 20 years from now, will your online marketing still be able to keep this group’s attention? Their preferences and priorities will have changed by then and so will their buying capacity. Do you still tap this market? If you don’t, will you be missing out on a great opportunity or should you continue targeting the same yet fresh-faced market?