Developing clarity on your target market can be one of your most valuable business activities. Most small business owners make the mistake of believing everyone is their target market. Then they develop marketing materials that are overly broad. The result is that their materials aren’t effective in attracting the types of clients they really want.

This mistake usually happens because we humans fear that we might “lose business” unless we include everyone. However, with an overly broad target market, you can’t describe in depth the problems, issues, and challenges of a specific segment of the population. You have to keep making everything general. That does not attract your true target market. In fact, it’s unlikely to attract anyone. No one will identify with your description. You need to address the problems and solutions that your market desperately seeks. Here are a few ideas for you use to fine-tune your target market.

1. Position Yourself As An Expert

Focus on those areas where you have deep expertise. Typically, this means you’ve got sufficient experience solving specific problems. You have in-depth understanding of the psychology and issues they struggle with. You are also crystal clear on what it takes to solve their problems. You know what answers they need to know, and how to help them get resolution. You could literally talk for hours about both the problem and the solution.

2. Claim A Unique Niche That Needs Your Expertise.

Be willing to sharply target your market. Give up the belief that everyone living is your market. Become a specialist. Of course, your specialty must be needed by a large enough “pool” of prospects. If your specialty is so esoteric that only one in a million people would ever need it, you will not find it a viable business.

3. Write An In-depth Description Of Your Target Market

Describe your target in depth. Who are they? What do they need? What problems are they looking to solve? What demographics identify them? What psychological characteristics do they commonly share? What social activities do they participate in? How would you recognize them if they were standing in front of you?

4. Target A Market Who Has A Budget And Is Willing To Spend For Services

Don’t forget to include their ability and willingness to pay. Not only must they have the need for your services, they must have a budget for it or the ability to create a budget. One of the biggest mistakes that is so common among business owners is to pursue markets who have neither budget nor willingness to pay.

Have you ever spent a great deal of time and effort pursuing a prospect who turned out to be “penniless”? If so, it’s time to examine your behavior and explore what causes you to make that mistake. Usually, it is some version of “they really need me!” This causes us to blandly throw our resources into a predictably fruitless effort. Become skilled at assessing financial viability up front. This does not mean to be mercenary or cruel. It simply suggests being businesslike. Put your business focus on those who have the means to afford your service. Keep the rest for friends and acquaintances.

5. Determine How You Will Access Your Target Market

Now, with this new clarity, where can you go to access this target market? What clubs, groups, societies, and social settings do they frequent? What are their interests? Who do you know who might introduce you? Often this seems like a difficult or challenging process. What is required though is a deeper examination of your knowledge of this target market. Rather than thinking, “I wish I knew where to meet them”, become willing to “think like them” and to experiment.

6. Put Together A Marketing Plan Where You Can Meet Your Target Market

Make up a list of places to explore where your target market shows up. Some places will be a total bust, and others will be target rich. Don’t get discouraged during your “failed” explorations. Just keep experimenting, inquiring, asking, and observing.

7. Your Objective Is To Identify A Few Places Where You Can Regularly Meet Your Target Market

Ideally, you will find 2-4 environments rich in your target market clients. Commit to showing up there regularly and follow through on that commitment. “Mine” these areas deeply. Develop relationships and be consistent. Over time, you may want to take a leadership role.

Of all your marketing activities, taking time to finely clarify your target market can bring you the richest results. Keeping this in mind and aligning your follow through is a major key to marketing success.

Suzi Elton provides business writing that attracts targeted prospects to your service business and converts them into clients for you. She is a Robert Middleton Certified Action Plan Marketing Coach, as well as a professional writer. Her website offers a free series of 8 assessments you can use to analyze your own site.