Identifying your potential customers should always be one of the first things you do when beginning your marketing automation. This process of finding your target market needs to be done with thought and careful planning. Why is this planned approach to your target market so important? Because if you incorrectly identify your target, if you’re off by too great a distance then you will be met with a failed product launch. Even as you build your business and create your product offerings you should be preparing your marketing. This means finding your target market should be an active part of your business development. Here are 7 recommended steps to follow as you seek to create the perfect marketing strategy.

1. Think like your audience

You know your product. You know what you are working on or the services providing. In fact, you have been eating, sleeping, and breathing your business longer than anyone else. As a result of your personal involvement you have come to identify with certain terms, keywords, and a distinct way of thinking about your business, your product, and the needs your solution meets. This is the first problem you will face. Rather than thinking as the person who has created this amazing business you must think like your audience. When you think like your audience this affects your entire marketing strategy. Everything from the keywords you use in your content marketing to the flow of your campaign workflows within your marketing automation will be affected by the thinking of your target audience.

2. Go where they go

But let’s step back even further. Before you can think like our target audience you need to go where they go. You need to find those locations online (and on social) where your potential customers like to visit. There are several reasons why this step is important. First, by finding and visiting those places where your audience lives you will learn what interests and motivates them. Second, this will help you think like them (see the first point above). When you live a day in someone else’s shoes you have a much better understanding what they are going through, and what they are thinking. You must go where they go. And be mindful that this is not the same for every business. You may find a great audience for your business on Twitter while someone else may find that LinkedIn is their ideal social network hangout.

3. What does tomorrow hold

As a business owner and someone who knows their product and potential market you must do more than just create something your target audience wants today you must create what they will need in the future. You must identify how your market will evolve and do more than just provide a feature set or product that meets their needs today. You have to anticipate what the future holds. Henry Ford has been credited with saying something along these lines:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
More details via HBR

The veracity of the quote aside, the sentiment is true. Often your target audience is unaware of what they will desire in 6 months, 12 months, the future. Your job is to find your target, identify their future desires, and market towards this goal. Obviously this is a challenging task. While you cannot predict the future you should be consistently innovating and pushing the boundaries in anticipation for what will be required in the future.

4. How big is your audience

One of the most important questions you should ask as you seek out your target audience should be how big the potential market is. If you incorrectly identify your audience, if you overestimate the potential you will find your business is producing more than the demand and you’ll fail to be successful. You should look to well-known and respected sources regarding the potential market. As a business owner or marketer you are undoubtedly optimistic. You believe your product is needed by everyone everywhere. This is not the truth. Remember, you can’t be too cautious about believing your own stories. Do the digging, look at the cold hard facts. There are numerous reports and surveys carried out on most potential markets. Some of these reports may require you to purchase them. Do so. It cannot be stressed enough that you understand the true size of your potential market. Failure to accurately identify this metric will leave you standing in an empty room, alone, with an amazing but unneeded product.

5. How big is the room

In addition to the audience but somewhat related, you should also do digging into the size of the room. This means looking beyond the existing audience but the empty space where your audience may expand. This point ties the previous two points nicely together. You need to seek out what the future for your target looks like as well as how big that audience currently is. Then once you have this two metrics you can massage them to forecast the potential future market and ultimately the size of the “room”. In this case you’re looking at the negative space. Where will your product be able to expand and grow and add market share. Within different verticals where are the walls (or ceilings) what are the limiting factors for your audience? Don’t fall into the trap of believing your target is too perfect and beyond the constraints of any room – every business, every product has limitations and boundaries. Identify these early.

6. What does your competition see

If you are in a market where your competitors existed first you have a distinct advantage. Dig into their marketing strategy, their keyword targeting, their landing pages and their email marketing campaigns. Don’t blindly attempt to reinvent the wheel. Look around and see what’s been done already. You can gain an infinite amount of wisdom by learning from the mistakes of others. Just because you are doing something different, something revolutionary, or something never seen before does not mean there is no value in what others have done previously. Learn from what your competitors see. What have they identified as the potential target audience or what leads have the most potential. This is smart marketing. This is smart lead generation. Use the countless hours of others to better find and market to your target audience.

7. Plan smart marketing

This step is listed last because you should complete the first 6 steps first. While you should put a first priority on finding and relating with your target audience this last step is quite important. Once you have found your target audience you need to create a plan to market to them. This smart marketing involves how you create your marketing landing pages, the format and structure of your email marketing campaigns, and the keywords you should focus on when crafting your content marketing strategy. When you know your target audience you will be fully equipped to prepare a marketing plan that meets your potential leads where they live.

The act of finding and marketing to your target audience is a fundamental building block for a successful business. Following the above 7 steps will help you to have a clear picture regarding your potential audience. Clarity on this aspect of your business will give you unmatched opportunity for growth. Armed with this knowledge you will be able to make informed decisions on future strategies, advanced marketing opportunities, and more. You’ll make the most of your marketing dollars and you’ll be fully equipped for growth and success. If you’d like to get a guided tour on how marketing automation can benefit your strategic marketing plan, click here to request your private VIP demo.