What is a random market – and are you serving one?

Do you know your ideal market, or markets? Were your marketing materials deliberately designed to appeal to this group? Are your messages and taglines targeted to your particular client demographics? Have you performed market research and based your advertising on the findings?
If you answered no to some (or all) of those questions, then you may be trying to serve a random customer base. Is this a bad thing? Yes and no. Let’s explore.

A short time ago my agency positioned a medium-sized company. Despite saying “no” to all of the above questions in our initial meetings, they were still making substantial revenue and profit. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right? Why rock the boat? Well, how about this: after taking them through our processes, identifying their ideal market and reworking their messaging to appeal to this market, our client’s revenue went up by 28% in a very short time. That is the power of a deliberate customer base.

Promoting to a random market can feel like grabbing at money in a wind tunnel – and much of the time it’s exactly that. On the other hand, a strong marketing plan guided by a careful strategy identifies and isolates the market segments with the best potential, enabling you to gain maximum value from your marketing and advertising budgets.

You may be able to achieve financial success and experience strong growth without defining your ideal market – many companies have. However, cultivating long-term relationships and building trust and loyalty among your clientele requires engaging them in a meaningful way. In the absence of a deliberate approach guided by a deep understanding of your market, deciding on the most effective ways to communicate with and serve your market is a challenge.

If you’ve identified yourself as serving a random market (i.e., you don’t have a clearly defined clientele, yet you still make money), then ask yourself, “Do I want to push further?” If the answer is yes, then it’s time to start asking questions. Talk to your staff, existing clients and stakeholders to get a better sense of what people actually think about your company.

Once a picture begins to emerge, start creating a deliberate marketing plan that clearly identifies your market, goals, and budget. Campaigns can be incredibly expensive – agency fees, magazine placement, radio, PR, etc., add up quickly – so be sure that you’re only spending money in the areas that target your ideal clients.

Keep in mind that you can’t figure this out once and decide that it will work forever. Expect your target market to change from one demographic to another and back again over time. This is the game of business (marketing, specifically) and, as always, the best way to play is to stay proactive by looking ahead, watching market trends and keeping yourself informed.