If you’ll consider that marketing to get your potential customers ‘on the hook’ has similarities to fishing, then the following statement should make sense to you:

 “If you want to catch fish, go where the fish are.”

Of course, it raises the next, very important question: What do you actually want to catch?

If you’re out to catch lobster you wouldn’t use a net or a rod at all.  You’d use a series of lobster pots attached to a rope and laid on the seabed, with a buoy to mark the location.

Lobster fishermen only catch what comes into the pot.  The pot doesn’t keep moving to look for new lobsters.  Rather, the lobsters come into the pots, are then trapped and they’re brought to the surface.

This is a great way to look at how your business could be attracting customers.

If you put your pots in the right place and fill those pots with the right bait, you’re going to be pulling up a lot of lobster.

If you’re looking to catch river trout you’re going to need an entirely different location, bait and equipment.   Not to mention a different strategy – as you’ll be hunting, rather than gathering.

So in your business its critically important that you define the sort of customers (fish) you’re looking to find.  In business-speak, this is known as defining your target markets.

You may have one target market or you may have a number of target markets.  For example, you might have a different target markets for each product or service you offer.

Three to focus on when defining your target markets

  1. Geographic

Where are your ideal customers based geographically?  Are they in NE1, the North East, England, the UK, France or the UAE, for example?   In our fishing story, this is all about knowing if you’ll fish in the sea or the river.

  1. Demographic

Demographics is just a fancy name for understanding what specific traits your target market have such as age, gender, number of children, household income, business revenue or business industry.  If you’re looking to attract other businesses, you might also include who the target person is in the organisation such as managing director or operations manager.

In our fishing story, this relates to what you want to catch – lobster, trout or something else.

  1. Psychographic

Psychographics relates to how your potential customers think and act.  It covers a broad range of traits such as personality, values, opinions, attitudes, beliefs, interests and lifestyles.  The psychographic traits of your customers will influence what and how they buy from you, as well as how easy they will be to do business with you.  Not all customers are created equal.  And you’ll want to catch the best ones.

Questions are the answer

Try these questions to help you delve into your ideal target markets  – your ‘A grade’ customers.  To get the most accurate answers you’ll want to do this by looking at the information you have access to about your existing A grade customers, or better still ask your customers these questions via a survey.

  • What does your ideal customer want to buy?
  • Why do they buy? (What problem do you fix for them?)
  • Why do they buy from you?
  • What are they willing to spend to get it?
  • Where do they buy – online, by phone or at a physical location?
  • When are they willing or able to buy?
  • How do potential customers hear about you?

And the moral of the story?

If you want to catch the right fish (customers), you’ll need to know what you want to catch (demographics), where to catch them (geography) and what the right bait is to hook them with (psychographics).

In your business, you do this buy clearly defining your target market so that you can work out which marketing tactics you’ll test and measure.


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