Driving down the streets of Munich, I looked ahead to see three vehicles in a row. It immediately had me thinking - what makes one car stand out from the rest when every car has a purpose?

Simple. The car that stands out is the one that is best suited to you as an individual. Not the person sitting beside you. But you.
How to define your target audience

Which brings me back to marketing basics. Having a well-defined target market is more important than every before in 2012. Why? Because no-one can predict what the future may hold. The economy is volatile. Facebook listed at an exorbitant share price, only to be worth significantly less a week later. And who knows where technology is heading and how that will influence our buying decisions. I for one would never have predicted that a company like Instagram would be worth a billion dollars, but obviously someone else did. The future is uncertain to say the least, so every advantage a small business can muster, is one that we should exploit as buddying entrepreneurs and leaders of the future.

As a small business, being able to identify and clearly target a niche audience will allow you to compete head-to-head with your larger counterparts.

I can't begin to tell you how many first-meetings I have had with small business owners, whereby they have told me that 'everyone' is their target audience. That is complete bollocks! Seriously, how do you think you are going to be successful if you are trying to be everything to everyone. Do you really think that the most successful companies in the world have a target audience of 'everyone'? I don't think so. In fact, I know they don't. They work to their niche. Sure, this may be a very large audience, but without a doubt they know who their customers is, what they like and what they dislike. How much time they spend on facebook, twitter, mobile phones, shopping, at work etc.

By clearly defining your target audience, it is easier and more cost effective to market your business. You are able to more easily identify where and how to market your company; brand, product and/or service.

Here are some great tips to consider:

1. Define your target audience: By better understanding who your customers are, what characteristics they have and what is common amongst the majority - you will be able to better define your target audience.

2. Competition is key: Who are your competitors? Complete a comprehensive analysis of your top 3 competitors; what they look like, how they market their business, who their customers are, why customers choose them over your company, what service/product ranges do they offer etc.

3. Do a demographic analysis of your customers; Include their age, geographic location, interests, gender, occupation, ethnic background, income etc.

4. Complete a psychological overview of your target audience; What is their personality, attitudes, values, hobbies, behaviour etc

5. Evaluate; work out the best your competitors have to offer and marry that with the customer profile you already have and the direction you would like your business to take. Write down your target audience and put an overview of this on every person's desk from your receptionist through to your senior managers and mail room.

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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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