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Find your target market: 4 steps to a reputation strategy

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Many business owners and entrepreneurs/inventors struggle with identifying their target market. (The target market is the specific group of consumers or customers at which a business aims its products and services.)

Many times, an entrepreneur develops a solution to a problem that is affecting him personally, without really asking “who” it is for.

A business owner is more likely to attempt to identify a target market and ask, “Who else will this product benefit?”

Entrepreneurs who are business owners are usually more invested, monetarily and with resources. They are heading and navigating the work required to create successful marketing, sales and customer service.

You put in the long hours and finally finished making that killer product or service, but your work is not yet done – now you need to introduce people to this offering.

While it is relatively straightforward to develop general advertising for the masses, devoting time and resources to identify more targeted markets can help maximize your marketing return on investment, according to Chuck Cohn of Forbes.

The makeup of the targeted groups dictates the “operations manuals” for the entire business, especially the consumer contact areas of business: customer service, sales and marketing. Without having an accurate compass reading of customers, you may be targeting the wrong market or a market that is too broad.


Most business owners want to sell to everyone, which is impossible. We can’t market to everyone, everywhere and all the time.

To not overwhelm the process, we break it down into logical steps that will be monitored and updated as the target markets change.

Changes can be discerning a trend to a new market and changes within a working target market. If done correctly, we will be selling to nearly everyone, everywhere and all the time.


Reputation strategy became relevant after the economy crashed in 2008. Customer behaviors changed, and the reputation of the product – and the seller – became important in purchasing.

The process has four steps: discover, define, develop and defend.

After the crash in 2008, we switched from a push to a pull economy, meaning business must have a consumer-centric business plan. If not, it needs one, quickly.


Finding your target market is one of many issues addressed in the discover phase and is critical to building a reputation strategy.

The fastest and most accurate way to begin is to look at your existing clients. A well-crafted, nonburdensome survey can build a strong personal relationship with customers in multipliable ways.

Categories for identifying your target market:



The third step can be educational levels, income, region or family makeup – marital status, children, etc. Pick one.


After the three categories are selected, begin the next phase: define.

Here, determine if the categories fit into your revenue model and are profitable or viable – and within your reach in order to continue to the develop and defend phases.

After the categories and steps have been completed, you have a working reputation strategy.


Businesses have been slow to embrace reputation strategy, but customers are not.

The customer’s ability to use the internet to research has grown exponentially. Businesses try to use social media to grow their business but usually ignore how customers use it.

A trend that continues to grow is the buying process by consumers, and usually the deciding factor includes feedback and opinions from friends and family.

A well-researched reputation strategy will include this new trend in the buying process. Does yours?

An expert in reputation management, monthly columnist Pamela S. Gockley is founder and creator of The Reputation Factor and Reputation Learning Center (www.reputationlearningcenter.com) in Leesport for personal and professional development. She has written books titled “The Reputation Factor: Repositioning to Succeed” and “The Art of Running Red Lights: Business Innovation with Reputation.” She can be reached at 610-916-3652 or admin@eputationlearningcenter.com.

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