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Bonus Midweek Lesson: Finding Your Target Market

Jan 29, 2014

by Jess Van Den

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Today we’re going to help you to refine your branding, story — and going forward — your product development and marketing by identifying your ideal customer. Knowing who your business serves, who you customer is and what they want, is key to success.

Your target market is the slice of the population your products are made for. Your products should fulfill a need and/or solve a problem for your target market. Even if you have an idea of who your target market is, it can still be a little confusing as to who, exactly, you’re speaking to when you write blog posts and social media updates. In order to get a clearer idea, narrow this down to an ideal customer.

The key here is to always remember that your ideal customer is not ‘everyone’. Your business might serve more than one ideal customer (for example, Epheriell has at least three ideal customers — men who buy wedding rings from us, women who buy their guys’ wedding rings from us and women who buy our other fashion jewellery) so you might want to create an ideal customer for each of the different slices of your market.

To help you do this, we’ve created an Ideal Customer Worksheet. Use it to create a persona for your ideal customer and write his or her story — you can even find a random photo of someone on the net to use in your (private, of course!) profile to help flesh them out.

Write their story, answering at minimum the following questions:

  • What is their name?
  • Age?
  • Occupation?
  • Education level?
  • Location?
  • Gender?
  • Style (clothes, hair, transport, music tastes)?
  • What does their house look like?
  • Are they single, married, children or not? How old are their children?
  • What are their hobbies and passions?
  • What blogs, TV shows, and books do they read?
  • What do they care about?
  • What need of theirs are you fulfilling?
  • What problem of theirs are you solving?

This exercise helps you flesh out the person you want to be working with and selling to. Whenever you write copy (product descriptions, blog posts, social media updates) you can talk directly to this person in the way you write.

Now, the question is — are your ideal customer and your actual customer the same? Or is there a discordance there? If they are the same, brilliant. If they’re not, start thinking about why that is, and what you can do to bring your dream customer and your actual customer into alignment.

Pro Tip: If you have a business Facebook page with a decent number of followers, check out the analytics section — you can see the location, age, gender and more of the people who already like your brand. Does that align with your ideal customer and target market?

Homework: Fill in your Ideal Customer Worksheet and find a picture of your ideal customer. Then introduce them in the Facebook group!

In our next lesson, we’ll be covering an absolutely essential element of selling successfully online — your product photos.

10 comments

  • TheMarbleTea

    Allison Dey Malacaria from SweaterDoll said 5 years ago

    I have always found this exercise extremely difficult as my lifestyle and my customer's couldn't be more different. I haven't had a TV for 15 years, don't have a cell phone and apps, don't read blogs much, and rarely buy new clothes and generally don't shop in general. My kids are grown; my customer's kids are young. Yet, I suspect my customer is very involved in the world which is why we are both interested in giving children alternatives to corporate-driven, pre-scripted playthings. We may not share a daily vocabulary, but the most significant bond I feel with my customer is that we share a yen for what's underneath the noise and a heartfelt desire to provide our children a world of play full of relationship and love rather than scripts and commercialism. I think you can want those things and be a hermit like me or be a soccer mom in world domination mode.

  • schjjjk02

    Jenni Lee Schouten from YenzosCreations said 5 years ago

    Thanks Jess, I make a range of different items which would appeal to a variety of buyers, how do I get around that issue. Cheers Jenni

  • kathenglish

    Kath unsworth from ScratchyBirdDesigns said 5 years ago

    I find this hard, to ask what need i am filling when I sell my art and cards. I guess the need to connect through the mail again. Email is so impersonal. So I guess my customer is a little old fashioned and still loves getting mail like me the old fashioned way. Lots to think about here thanks, Still have not opened shop but building up my site slowly with all this wonderful helpful tips Thanks. First product almost ready to go up.

  • MumsCupboard

    MumsCupboard from myclectic said 5 years ago

    Yes this is a difficult one. I've cornered myself into the 'geek' niche but am also trying to be an independent designer in the field of leather goods. I get bored if I don't do something different but have customers who fret when they think I am leaving the geek jewellery behind so I feel trapped into doing both. Do I have two target customers? Is that possible? Anita ~ myclectic

  • crosslef

    Fiona Arthur said 5 years ago

    This is exactly what I need to do. I'm trying to come up with my tag line - something along the lines of quality handcrafted garments for the special person in your life - but I don't feel its specific enough. I'm off to fill out the worksheet.

  • MissMarleyPants

    Marley from MissMarleyBoutique said 5 years ago

    I think this is such an important exercise for me to focus on - so thank you :) I have such a diverse range of people respond to my work - I feel like I need to incorporate an inclusive marketing plan so I don't 'miss' anyone - but ensure it's still cohesive...I think this lesson will help with that!! Thanks again :)

  • emmapro

    Emma from BreathofJoy said 5 years ago

    Great lesson! Thank you.

  • philliplh

    Phillip and Majella from ExquisiteGem said 5 years ago

    Tricky! We have brides to be who are buying their own engagement rings, grooms to be who are buying engagement rings, men buying gifts for their ladies, women treating themselves or buying a gift for a loved one. We often use the word "engagement" "wedding" and "gift" in our titles and tags so hopefully are catching their attention!

  • GeorgianaJane

    Georgiana Archer from GeorgianaArcherStdio said 5 years ago

    I think you can be too narrow with this kind of thing. Sometimes being so precise about your target can work for your product, sometimes not. I make jewellery but I'm not a gold and silversmith, I'm more of a beader / jewellery designer. I'm aware that I am in an enormously competitive market...I think jewellery is one of the most common shop types on Etsy along with vintage. However, I found a gap based on making what I wanted to wear. My buyers aren't necessarily like me at all. Most of my buyers (on Etsy) are from the US or the UK. My Facebook followers are right across the age spectrum and those that purchase from me in my bricks and mortar shop are anywhere from 25 to 70 and beyond. My jewellery is just that it has a broad appeal and I like it that way because I am an eclectic creative person so it allows me to be free in the way I create.

  • cateburns1

    Cate Burns from CheekyMareAustralia said 5 years ago

    Posted my ideal customer on EtsyResoolution Facebook, but struggling with the needs and problem section. All I have come up with is the need and problem of wanting to buy some individual gifts that aren't mass produced - which nearly everyone on Etsy fulfils!

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