By Dr. Michel Fortin
If your web-based business solves a specific problem, then your chances of online success are good. This is not a facetious statement because you'd be surprised to know how many businesses go online with no clear objective whatsoever. But in order to increase those chances, an immensely important step in marketing effectively online is required -- targeting.
This is where many marketers fail, for they are trying to be "all things to all people." Their web site may offer a product that solves a specific problem. And unquestionably, the marketplace -- and the potential -- on the Internet is huge. But it is also for this very reason that general offers either get easily drowned in this boundless electronic ocean or fail to capture the netizen's attention due to the vagueness of the offering's nature.
Since the marketplace is so vast, attention span so short and competition so enormous, there is no better place for market targeting than on the Internet. Today's rapidly changing, technology-driven marketplace mandates a sharper marketing aim. If your business doesn't have one, you're going to either have a really tough time or require a huge marketing budget.
Therefore, try to discover the demographics as well as the psychographics of your niche -- your niche being your core, largest or most profitable market. If you don't have a narrowly defined market, then identify it or isolate one. And once you've defined it, it will then be easier for you to market your offer in front of an audience that will most likely be genuinely interested in it. Otherwise, without one you'll be merely shooting blanks.
Demographics are the basic qualities and characteristics of your market. They include age, gender, culture, employment, industry, income level, marital status, location and so on. For example, does your product cater uniquely to women? Is it more appealing to a specific industry? Does your product complement another type of product? Is your market mostly made up of French Canadians? In other words, who buys from you specifically?
If you were to answer that last question with "everyone," then you are falling in the "all things to all people" trap mentioned earlier. Avoid it as much as you can. But if you do cater to a diverse market, then the trick is to find out who buys from you the most or the most often. Above all, ask yourself this all-important question: Who is my perfect customer?
On the other hand, psychographics consist of the emotional and behavioral qualities of your target market. They include emotions, rationales, buying histories, psychology and thought processes behind the decision to buy your product. For example, they include your customers' interests, associations to which they belong, previous purchases they've made, other similar or related products they've consumed, activities in which they're engaged, the length of time they remained with a particular company in the past, and so on.
Stated differently, demographics define the qualities of those people who may *need* your product, while psychographics are the qualities of those who may not only need but also *want* your product. Before you target your market, profile your customer -- your perfect customer. You can start by conducting some marketing research among your current client base, potential clients and clients of other similar products or companies. But never underestimate the gold mine that can be found in your own backyard -- your clients.
In order to illustrate the difference between demographics and psychographics, let's look at cosmetic surgeons and particularly hair transplant doctors. Hair restoration caters typically to men who have experienced hair loss and are able to afford such an operation. In other words, men and bald men specifically are potential patients because they may need more hair.
But psychographics on the other hand go a little further. In this example, they are comprised of men who not only need more hair but also want more hair. This is important since not all of them do -- it's a matter of personal priorities, just as the type of clothing one chooses to wear. If you think about it, would you consider all bald men as potential clients? Hopefully not.
Therefore, in order to target this specific market as precisely as possible and thus generate higher quality leads, doctors must take their patients' psychographic profile into account. Elements include their lifestyle, their interests, the type of industry in which they work (since certain industries are more image-related) as well as their previous buying habits (such as men who have already invested in other forms of hair replacement solutions).
Once done, they can easily find places on the web where this perfect customer hangs out. They fish where the fish swim. For example, there are web sites and even "vortals," which are niche-based portals, catering to bald men seeking a hair loss solution (like regrowth.com). There are even discussion lists and ezines whose subscribers consist of people suffering from thinning hair. And of course, the list goes on.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that less is more. Narrow your focus to a specific niche and, paradoxically, you will broaden your sales. Arm yourself with as much information as possible about your perfect customer, and then target *that* customer more than any other. While you can't be everything to everyone, you shouldn't be targeting everyone for everything.
Dr. Michel Fortin is an internationally acclaimed and highly sought-after consultant whose marketing advice has helped countless clients earn millions of dollars in record time. He is also the Senior Editor of Internet Marketing Chronicles, a weekly newsletter with 125,000 subscribers, as well as the author of four books. His latest book, "Power Positioning Dot Com" reveals how to keep your product or service indelibly carved into your prospects' uppermost consciousness at all times.