The Etsy Blog

Dispatches from B-School: Marketing Communications, Part 2 handmade and vintage goods

Generous Etsian blondechicken is getting an MBA and we all get to benefit from it! Here on the Storque, blondechicken is doing a series called “Dispatches from B-School.” She blogs at Here’s her second installment all about your Target Market…

Before we jump into the 7 areas of Marketing Communications, it’s important that we determine WHO we are communicating with. In the last post, we learned about the purposes of marketing communication (inform, persuade, remind) and that each of your marketing communications needs to be doing one (or, preferably, more than one) fulfilling those purposes. As important as this is; it is just as important that you are informing, persuading and reminding the RIGHT people. To do this, we need to determine who our market is. Let’s start with some terminology so we’re all on the same page.  I’m going to give the “textbook” definition (actually from my Marketing textbook!) and then my Etsy-world definition.

Textbook: “a group of people or organizations with needs to satisfy or problems to solve, the money to satisfy needs or solve problems, and the authority to make expenditure decisions” (Ch 2).
My definition: everyone in the whole world that needs or wants something and that has the money and the ability to buy it.

Market segmentation:
Textbook: “dividing a market into subsets of prospective customers who behave in the same way, have similar wants or have similar characteristics that relate to purchase behavior.” (Ch 7).
My definition: the smaller groups within the larger market that are interested in the same things and shop/read/listen to the same outlets.

Target Market:
Textbook: “a defined group of consumers or organizations with whom a firm wants to create marketing exchanges” (Ch 1).
My definition: the specific group of potential buyers that you want to communicate with, through your marketing.

You could try to communicate with the entire Market…but you’ll be wasting your time (and maybe money) on people who don’t need the product you’re selling.  You want to apply market segmentation to split up the larger market. Once you’ve segmented, pick the specific segments that you can communicate with and that DO already want or need your product.

This group is your Target Market.

To save time and money, your business only needs to market to this Target Market.  Why? Well, let’s look at an example:
I handspin and dye eco-friendly yarn. It would be silly for me to try to communicate with the entire world, because not everyone wants/needs yarn (or knows what to do with it outside of kindergarten craft projects!).  So who does need yarn? Off the top of my head my market segment contains Knitters, Crocheters, Weavers, Mixed Media Artists (we’ll just call all of the above ‘fiber artists’ for now).  But not all of those people use a computer, let alone feel comfortable shopping online. And not all the people that shop online can afford artisanal yarn.  And fewer still are willing to pay for (or see the value in) handcrafted supplies (I think of this market segmentation as Wal-Mart’s target market).  And to segment it even further, some people just won’t care for my ‘eye’ or ‘vision’ or that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that makes my shop different from the other handspinners on Etsy.  So you see, my Target Market is fiber artists that shop online, value handcrafted supplies and appreciate my use of color and material.  Score!

As you grow and expand, you might add new Target Markets, but for now, let’s narrow it down to just one, really well-defined market. We need to further define this market so that we know out how/where/in what way to reach your Target market. I think this is the easiest way to hone in on who your Target Market is: answer a set of questions about one member of your Target Market. So take a minute and envision this one potential buyer in your head and get ready for a little roleplay.

Are you having a hard time thinking of one specific buyer? If you sell something like jewelry or soap which so many people need/use, you may find it impossible to narrow it down so much.  So I ask you: do you love your product? Do you use it? If so, YOU are your target market. (If not, rethink your product!) I know you are one of a kind and all that, but the truth is, there are others who ARE like you: they shop where you shop, read what you read and appreciate your taste in clothes/jewelry/soap smells. So ask these questions of yourself and you’ll be on your way to defining at least one Target Market.

Each product will have different questions, but here are some off the top of my head:
Who are they? Male or Female? Conservative or Liberal? Blue collar or white collar? What blogs and magazines do they read? What music do they listen to? What clothes do they wear? Where do they shop? What do they value? What movies do they like? Do they craft? What are their hobbies? Do they have kids? A significant other? What forums do they frequent?  What size town do they live in? Do they have a specific skill set? Are they already on Etsy or not? Why not?

Now, for your homework:
Take out a sheet of paper (or open a blank Word document) and describe this one member of your Target Market, in detail.  Answer the questions above and come up with some your own.  If you still have a hard time imagining your Target, describe yourself.  Be sure to list specifics, because you’ll use this list to determine WHICH area of Marketing Communications to use.

All done? Come share your findings in this forum thread.  Need help or encouragement? Just ask and I’ll be happy to help you define your Target.

Next up: The areas of Marketing Communication and how to make them speak your language.

Further Resources:
Marketing: Principles and Perspectives, by Bearden, Ingram and La Forge

  • sweetestpea

    sweetestpea says:

    Great article!! Thanks for sharing.

    7 years ago

  • blondechicken

    blondechicken says:

    Thanks! If anyone wants to talk about who their Target Market is or has questions, here's a thread on the subject:

    7 years ago

  • LeastLikely2Breed

    LeastLikely2Breed says:

    Nice work - great info:)

    7 years ago

  • adornedbyrobin

    adornedbyrobin says:

    Really informative article! I saw you in the forums, too.

    7 years ago

  • jennifersquires

    jennifersquires says:

    Thanks so much for the great article! Really got me thinking!

    7 years ago

  • petitpoix

    petitpoix says:

    I posted something in the thread too but I wanted to let you know again how wonderful this article has been to read. It has me thinking in a whole new way about selling.

    7 years ago

  • Transient

    Transient says:

    This has been SO helpful for me. This really helped me break down what I needed to do into a manageable series of chunks. Thanks so much.

    7 years ago

  • Shutterkate

    Shutterkate says:

    Great ideas! Once I'm done my homework-homework, I'm gonna take on this Etsy homework assignment tonight!

    7 years ago

  • cthings

    cthings says:

    Wonderful article! Well written! Really done a great job and makes you think.

    7 years ago

  • JJMFinance

    JJMFinance says:

    This is a great article. I agree that it is very important for you to actually take the time to write your marketing plans down somewhere--this makes you really focus and it can hold you accountable. Thanks for including my Marketing Planner in featured items--I am really proud of it. It helps by taking your creativity and focusing it to deveolop a marketing plan for your shop.

    7 years ago

  • paintandink

    paintandink says:

    Very useful! Thank you.

    7 years ago

  • mizusugi

    mizusugi says:

    Nice article! Well organized information. Thank you!

    7 years ago

  • Adornyourself

    Adornyourself says:

    Glad you pointed us here,well thought out.

    7 years ago

  • HazelHoney

    HazelHoney says:

    great article. I have a hard time trying to figure out my target market. I use my products and never thought of the idea of defining myself as the type of target market I should be honing in on! cool!

    7 years ago

  • EnglishVintageDreams

    EnglishVintageDreams says:

    Excellent information. This has really helped me to focus on who I sell to and where I need to promote locally as well as how to promote my Etsy shop. Thank you!

    7 years ago

  • necklaceboutique

    necklaceboutique says:

    Great article!My major problem,defining my target market.I myself love architecture,science,cosmos,art,earth,archealoji,crafts,fashion (couture),anything different,creative,not copied,original. so who do i share these things with and how do i find them?I am not sure who and how to target this audeince.I'll be grateful for any of your input.Thanks.

    7 years ago

  • blondechicken

    blondechicken says:

    Necklace, I'll respond in the forums! Thanks!

    7 years ago

  • mintage

    mintage says:

    love it! gimme more! ;)

    7 years ago

  • BoutiqueCandle

    BoutiqueCandle says:

    This is a fantastic, very useful article, thanks so much! I have been struggling with this topic for some time now in my hand poured candle and soap business. I've been making candles, soap and bath and body products for six years now. Over the past year I've decided to take it from hobby to business.I'm new to the business world (used to be an elementary school teacher) and am eager to learn strategies to grow. I have met a lot of people through online message groups who buy these products and like to buy from hand crafters however the ones that I know seem to be primarily concerned with price point. I did what you suggested and looked at myself as a target market and realized that while the people I "know" as candle/soap buyers fall more into the Walmart, blue collar category, I cannot produce enough volume of products to justify competing with low prices. I am seeking the best strategies to market to a more discerning consumer who would appreciate quality and be less price sensitive. I would appreciate any and all input.

    7 years ago

  • blondechicken

    blondechicken says:

    Boutique, Can you ask this question in the forum? You'll get input from others and it will give a chance to ramble on and on! Thanks!

    7 years ago

  • cherdak

    cherdak says:

    Great article ! It's very helpfull !Thank you very much !

    7 years ago

  • KaNani2008

    KaNani2008 says:

    I am going to go study myself now!! Thanks for sharing your learning with us :D

    7 years ago

  • borneodiva

    borneodiva says:

    thank you for this great thread :)

    7 years ago

  • pixiepotions

    pixiepotions says:

    Thank you so much for sharing!!!!

    6 years ago

  • radarjenny

    radarjenny says:

    Your ideas on how to define a target audience are fantastic - I'd never thought of any of them!

    6 years ago

  • hazelnutcottage

    hazelnutcottage says:

    omg, i cannot tell you how great this is. !

    6 years ago

  • MadeByMari

    MadeByMari says:

    Great article on Alchemy. But where to I find it on the home page... Sometimes too much is too much and the threads get tangled.

    6 years ago

  • coocolor

    coocolor says:

    love it!

    6 years ago

  • Artour

    Artour says:

    Thank you for these great leads on how to start apporoching target audience!

    5 years ago

  • VintageDictionaryArt

    VintageDictionaryArt says:

    Market Profiling? Funny but true!

    4 years ago

  • zatanah

    zatanah says:

    I have been working on this issue myself. Thanks for the post. I will continue to do my research.

    4 years ago