Filenotfound Studios’ Julia Kramer Explains the 4-Step Process for Defining Your Target Market

Before you launch a product, it’s important to know exactly what your target market is. Defining your market can save you time, money, and resources by reducing the amount of effort you spend targeting customers that are a poor fit for your product. Labs mentor Julia Kramer, head of marketing at Filenotfound Studios, held a session to discuss the four-step process to narrow down your target market to reach your ideal set of customers.

Step #1: Interview target users

One of the most effective ways to fine-tune your target market is by speaking to people on the ground. Interviewing target users can give you valuable insights and can either confirm or challenge the assumptions you’ve made about the market. “Marketing is just as much science as it is an art. There’s definitely that element of experimentation. People come into markets with very varying degrees of understanding about their target market,” Kramer says. “But a lot of times, their understanding is based on personal experience. And that experience isn’t as aligned to their target market as they think.”

When you conduct interviews, you’re getting direct answers from customers in the market. Your questions should focus on their pain points, their day-to-day lifestyle, and the products that they currently use to address any problem areas related to your product. For example, if you have a clothing e-commerce business, you may start out by speaking to a customer at a local retail store. But you shouldn’t be trying to sell anyone on your product just yet. When you’re interviewing, your goal is to be curious, to learn, and to gain helpful insight into potential users. In the long-term, these interviews can also be useful for establishing your first customer base. “Because now you have people you can reach out to when you do get your product, or when you’re ready to test something or to get market feedback,” Kramer says. “You’ve already taken the first step in building that customer relationship.”

Step #2: Conduct an SEO analysis

On the technical side, an SEO analysis of your website and search terms related to your product or service can give you insight into what your target users are searching for. It can also help you determine the best way to market your product so that it comes up in relevant search results and give you a better sense of what words people are using to search for items that are relevant to your product. “SEO analyses give you insight into what people are searching for, how much traffic is going towards certain topics and from whom and where,” Kramer says. “It could give you some insight into your market, your potential market, and the way they’re phrasing the questions.”

When you know what questions target users are asking, it can help you make better business decisions. “You can do an SEO analysis for a couple thousand dollars, and it’s going to help you define your content and marketing strategies,” Kramer says. For example, if your product is a Bluetooth watch and your SEO analysis shows that 18 to 24-year-olds in the New York area search for the term “watch alternatives,” more frequently than any other age-range or state in the U.S., this may be your target market. You can also use this information to decide which words you use to describe your product on your website or in the content you create to enhance your SEO results.

Step #3: Reach out to your relevant industry contacts

Leveraging your connections and their expertise can help you in many areas, including defining your target market. These connections can give you even more information about your market and can teach you tips and tricks for user outreach. You’ll be asking a lot of the same questions you would ask target users. But the main difference here is that you’re speaking to industry experts with insight and experience. “Try and see if you can get a handful of contacts to talk to you. The magic number is six or seven. Interview them and ask what their day-to-day looks like and whether or not they think there’s a big need for your product,” Kramer says. “Ask what keeps them up at night about their jobs, their thoughts about this particular topic, and the problem area that you’re trying to fill.”

During these conversations, you’ll receive some valuable feedback about your product that you should use to iterate on it. But you’ll also get thoughts and opinions about how your product fits into the market and where you should focus your outreach. “After these conversations, you’ll have a better understanding of your general market. This can help you decide how to target your users a little better. And this is something you can do with no money,” Kramer says. “These contacts can give you a good sense of where to direct things. It can be very powerful if you just sit down and listen.”

Step #4: Research your competition

Chances are that you may have a few competing products. But this competition can present an excellent opportunity to define your market even further. “Look at any of your competitors and see what they’re doing. Sign up for newsletters and Google alerts for mentions of their company,” Kramer says. “When you do this, you can gauge what’s being addressed or not in terms of product functionality. You can see what the gaps are.”

Once you figure out where your competitors fall short, you can both refine your product to address these shortcomings and reach out to users of these competing products with your solution. “As a content marketer, before I start writing on any topic, I look at what our competitors have already written. I don’t want to do the same thing everyone else is doing,” Kramer says. “And so if I can find something that isn’t being done and have a different angle, then that’s preferable. There are ways to make yourself stand out, and you won’t know how to do that unless you know what everyone else is doing.”

Read more articles about go-to-market strategy.

This post is based on content from a WeWork Labs programming session.

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