“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” These words were spoken by President Abraham Lincoln. He knew that in organization and leadership, nothing leads to success like the careful preparation that puts all following efforts “on-point.”


Sharpening your ax in business development means knowing what you’re doing, who you’re serving, and doing it with maximum intentionality. Target markets are a key element of this. If you’re not hitting your target markets, you’re swinging wide with a dull blade and may be wasting time and resources. But how do you know if that ax is sharp enough? How do you know if you’re hitting your target?


How target markets work


Target markets may be an existing market you’re currently serving, or an up-and-coming market you’re keen to reach. Either way, if you tailor your advertising and services to meet their needs and tap into their imaginations, you build loyalty and drive client acquisitions by increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of your efforts. Remember: it’s not about your size or even the number of years you’ve been in business. It’s about reaching your particular target group. When you’re honed in, you would worry far less about larger competitors or businesses with more comprehensive services.


Shaking hands with client profiles


One clear way to tell whether you’re hitting your target market is whether you’re gaining new clients who fit the descriptions of your client profiles. Who are you shaking hands with? Do they fit into a demographic named by your marketing strategy? Your target market personas should literally be walking through your doors and hitting your inboxes.


If you’re trying to reach new clientele but are only seeing the same people, you’re either not reaching your target market, or you may need to consider whether the target market you’ve identified is really the right fit for your business. As a wise saying goes, “What happens in front of you is meant for you.” In other words, the business that naturally comes your way should be at least one of your key client profiles.


Gaining trust


When you’re attracting the clientele you’ve identified — of a certain age group, family situation, income range, locality, preferences, life goals, and lifestyle — this means you’ve already accomplished a shortcut to trust. You’re hitting your target markets when clients do not need to be convinced to align with your values, and when they seek their industry information from you. When they want to learn from you and are eager to work with you, you’re hitting a target market. Many of your business dealings will also come with a certain amount of relational ease because those attracted to your business will feel predisposed to positive connections. If your services are worthy, gaining trust is not a struggle when you’re hitting your target markets.


Making sense of your marketing strategy


Your marketing strategy will also feel more manageable and your decisions more intuitive when you’ve properly identified your target markets. Online appeal, direct mail, drip emails, and other methods of outreach and follow-up are far easier to plan when the right client profiles are before you in your mind’s eye. Creativity flows best and most quickly when focus and direction are most narrow and clear. If developing your marketing strategy is like pulling teeth, you may need help developing your strategy, but you may also not be on the right track with your target markets. Hitting your markets means you’re sufficiently preparing the way for a flow of creative, accurate marketing output.


Evaluating client awareness


How aware are your clients of why they selected you over other competitors? Carefully targeted clientele are those to whom your services cater most, and therefore should be most able to articulate what makes your business stand out. Regular and intentional practices of gaining customer feedback, integrated with relationship building, are not amiss even in high-profile professional services. One-on-one interviews with clients are a great way to strengthen client bonds, and email surveys are easy to conduct. When they provide feedback, if engaged clients consistently describe the business you’re trying to build, that’s a good sign that you are likely hitting your target markets.


Listening to the market


Client feedback also shows how your services are hitting the ground — or not — in your target market. It works especially well here when combined with competitor research and other marketing metrics. It provides data for questions like:


  • Is client need for what you offer remaining stable or declining over time?



  • Is client need increasing, and if so, are you able to meet these new needs?



  • If declining, is it time to consider a readjustment of business practices or an alignment with different target markets?


Finally, examining these questions in light of what you know about your closest competitors can tell you if your issues are particular to your business, or whether they might be a regional, niche, or industry-wide problem.


Letting your markets evolve


If you do not let your markets evolve through yearly re-evaluation and assessment, then there will come a day when, inevitably, you are no longer efficiently hitting your target markets. Your industry is constantly changing, cultures are changing, lifestyles and spending habits are changing, and the need for your services will change, even in subtle ways. And target markets are about keeping your marketing tools finely tuned and sharply honed. Every year you must evaluate and redesign your client profiles to make sure they’re describing who you’re actually attracting and serving as well as the markets at the frontiers of where you want your business to go.


When you assess your target markets, you’re assessing the heart of your success. Range, a Deluxe company, offers comprehensive marketing solutions tailored to the unique needs of your industry. Contact us today to connect with a consultant. How can we help you succeed?