The Benefits and Rewards of Targeting Your Best Core Market

by Michael DiFrisco, AACD Director of Membership and Marketing

Choosing a specific audience for your practice is a powerful form of focus. Targeting means you reject the idea of believing the best way to build your business is by hitting every living person in your area. Targeting allows you to focus on the specific patient or client types most desirable for you.

Here are some other benefits of targeting a specific core market:

• You’ll eliminate the bottom-feeders and those who simply will not value what you offer
• You’ll have more effective marketing spending
• You can better focus your messaging—tailored to focus on their needs, not the needs of the entire universe
• Your time is better used—more time spent serving your best patients who value what you offer and less time pursuing low-value prospects
• You’ll build a stronger referral base—once you penetrate and educate a target market on the value of working with you

I once heard from a direct marketing guru a bit of advice that sticks with me to this day: Before deciding WHAT to sell, determine WHO you’re going to sell to. What he was suggesting was to first find an audience—those who can and will patronize your practice—and then decide how to create or modify your offerings to best serve that marketplace.

How to Target YOUR Market
Here are four easy steps to targeting the ideal core market for your business or practice.

1. Does your target market have a need that only you can fulfill? Is it willing and able to spend money for your services to solve its specific need? Does your experience, training, and expertise point to this specific audience as being ideal for your offerings? A Conservative Café is a coffee shop for, wait for it, conservatives. The Indiana-based café claims that it’s “coffee served right.” Do conservatives NEED their own coffee shop? Who knows? But Conservative Café thinks so, and it has fulfilled a perceived need in their area.

2. Consider the size. Is your target market large enough to sustain your business? Don’t worry about precise numbers, because your dental brand will also attract an aspirational audience; those who want to participate in your offerings even if they’re not considered your target. Take Seventeen magazine. While the publication’s strategic target is young girls around 17 years of age, its actual market is young girls aged 13-15 who want to act like they’re 17.

3. Is your target market, well, target-able? If you can’t find it, you can’t sell to it. What does your desired target audience read? Where does it hang out? Who else competes for its loyalty and devotion? Even an iconic brand like Harley-Davidson can reinvent itself by remaining true to its roots, but appealing to niche audiences through creative marketing and social media approaches. Once the domain of inner-rebels and CEOs, Harley is reaching out to younger demographics, women, and Hispanics—each on their own turf and in their own “language.” But the lesson here is that these new, vertical audiences are find-able for Harley.

4. Do you have a passion for this target audience? If you have a desire to treat families, then you better make sure you LOVE dealing with families; that you can relate to them and can pour your energy into serving them and making their lives better through your care. The target audience for Freshpet (fresh, refrigerated dog and cat foods), is well-defined: empty nesters age 45 to 54 with household incomes of $100,000-plus. “These are people whose kids are now busy with high school or off at college or in jobs now, and who are now lavishing their affection and attention on their pets, which they basically view as their ‘children,’” says Freshpet VP of marketing Kathryn Winstanley. FreshPet has a passion for their audience of pet-loving empty nesters.

The benefits of selecting a target market for your practice are many. But before choosing a core audience, ask yourself two critical questions: Are my services relevant to these people? Will this audience care about what I have to offer?