Your business can’t be all things to all people. To focus your marketing and advertising efforts, you need to key in on who your customers (and potential customers are.) The best way to do this effectively is to identify your target market. Target markets may seem like an obvious aspect of selling, but many businesses fail to analytically research theirs, or think of them too generally. Here are four steps to help you realize specific target markets.

Objectively Analyze Your Product

You know your product or service inside and out, right? You can probably tout features, benefits, maybe even technical specs. That’s obviously important, but when considering target markets, you need to think like a customer. What makes them shop for a product in your category? Is it something fun that they want, or something procedural that they need? This exercise helps lay out the broad demographics of people likely to purchase what you’re selling.

Size Up the Competition

Next, take a step away from your own business and look at your competitors. Where are they advertising? What attitude does their brand voice and design convey? What target markets are they likely to reach with their strategy and messaging? Answer these questions and see if it lines up with the broad demographics you’ve laid out. If it does, determine how you can differentiate yourself. If it doesn’t, consider whether you can extend into an untapped market.

Drill Down on Demographics

You need to be as specific as possible when analyzing target markets. Let’s say you sell purses. By and large, it’s easy to say your target is women. Go further. Are your best-selling purses more appealing to women over 50 or under 50? If the answer is under, keep going. Let’s say they appeal to women closer to 20. A great tool here is creating customer personae, that is, writing a biography of your customer and giving her a name. Maybe her name is “Jenn” and she’s a 22- year-old finishing college and about to take her purse out for job interviews. This gives you a very specific direction to market with!

Research to Verify

Finally, you want to make sure your assumptions prove to be correct. Formal research is great but expensive. Use social media polling and data from your pages to examine who is following you and if they line up with your strategy, goals, and customer personae.

Marketing can feel like a shot in the dark if you don’t understand who is buying your product and why. Use these tools to identify your target customer.