Stop Misleading Yourself and Assuming You Know Your Target Market!

Author : , Date : May 18, 2015



Why are so many businesses not reaching their business, marketing and sales goals and what can you do to position your company for more growth?

In 2012 Terry started her business with excitement and enthusiasm. After years of corporate bureaucracy and capped salaries she felt it was time to strike out on her own and do something adventurous, fun and rewarding.

When she lost her job due to a corporate draw down she knew that this was her opportunity. She got a severance big enough to help with some seed money and a few months of living expenses.

Terry immediately began researching how to start a business. She came up with a name and incorporated her business.

She was ready. She was a legal entity and that meant she could just jump right in and start taking orders.

There was one problem… no matter how much she told people what she was selling it was harder to get her prospects to spend their money that she thought it would be.

It didn’t take long for her to realize that she was in trouble. The worst part was that she didn’t know why she was struggling so much.

So Terry did what so many of us do; she started working more hours and tried to do more “things” in the hope that her “hard work” would pay off because isn’t that what business requires?

That’s what she was always taught in the corporate world.

The one who works the longest wins.


She simply didn’t know what she didn’t know and within a year her dream was shattered.


Maybe you can identify with Terry’s story? Maybe your story is different but the results are the same?

The truth is if you don’t have a foundation you can’t build a business.

Today, I’m not going to talk with you about your message or ask you what “Business are you “REALLY” in?”. I have written about this the extensively over the last year in virtually every article.

Having complete clarity around your business is so important, yet so many of us as business owners are completely lacking in this area.

assumptionsI talk with business owners every day who are working under assumptions instead of data and facts. You know what they say about assumptions? (See, I’m making an assumption that you know and what if you don’t?)

Assumptions in business will run you out of business.

Sure, sometimes an educated guess or our intuition pays off and we have to do that. But, that should not be normal operating procedure.

Instead of talking about your message today, I’m going to specifically share how discovering your target market is the key to your success when combined with a powerful message.

I’m going to deal with some of the assumptions you are making about your audience and hopefully by the time you’re done reading this article you will realize that you are missing a lot of opportunities and business because you don’t “really” know your target audience.


My Journey and My Own Target Marketing Mistakes


Before I go into the assumptions and ideas that will help you about your target marketing, I want to share why I understand your struggles so well.

It’s because your struggles were once my struggles until I realized why I was struggling.

Why was it that I was always attracting the wrong people?


  • Do It Yourself (DIY) people who never had an intention to buy from me but wanted to just pick my brain for free information that they could use to build their business. It’s not their fault if I was willing to do it, right?
  • People who want a successful business but don’t have a viable market or business model but they sure are passionate.
  • Those who have great ideas and no money.
  • Those who want a quick way to the cash but don’t want to make the effort or do the work.


On May 29th it will mark the one year anniversary of my blog. It has been a massive learning experience. I have had some major successes and a few times I’ve failed in some areas of my business as well. It’s all part of the learning curve.

When I started I had a few assumptions about blogging and a few fears. My blog appeared to start strong but the truth is I just worked my rear off for six months by writing, connecting, engaging, sharing and offering value.

I met all my goals in 2014 as you can see in this article.

As my comments grew and connections happened naturally through my strategy of networking online I begin realizing that eventually I would start losing my audience and the appearance of success because my comments would start dwindling as I shifted from engaging with those who were not my audience to those who are.

Why was this the case for me?

I teach that for business blogging and content marketing to work we have to be very clear about our business and our audience and focus on the right strategies to meet them and earn opportunities for them to buy from us. That means our execution has to be about them; not us.

In turn, that means personally my articles are getting more and more focused on my target audience. I’m very, very specific about writing to one person with one problem; with a possible solution.

Just like Terry above. People who have had her experience will identify with her and understand where this article is headed as a result because they want to learn how she overcame her challenge.

Today, the articles on my site and on other sites are getting clearer for the reader.

It resonated and some of the comments are blog articles in themselves.

To the point more specifically, I have a few new prospects and that is what excites me!!!!


How is Measurable Data Changing My Marketing?


Do you remember a bit ago I said that too many of us are making assumptions about our audience? In the initial stages of our research that is okay.

In fact, in my Foundations of Internet Marketing or in my 1-on-1 coaching I spend a lot of time working with my clients to help them understand who their primary target and secondary target audiences are. Sometimes we have information from previous clients and experiences and sometimes we work on coming up with good old fashioned common sense ideas of who the target market is.

We have to have a starting point.

Knowing your basic audience comes from asking what are the tangible values your customers experience and how do they feel about your business; and what are the specific problems that each tangible value solves?

Once you know that, then you ought to know or generally have an idea of who you want to talk to based on the answers to those two leading questions. For example I worked with CodeLocks, a large manufacturing company of locks and keyless locks. They identified their basic target markets:


  • Gyms and workout facilities with changing rooms.
  • Homes with school aged children.
  • Corporate offices
  • Retail stores where employees could store personal belongings
  • U.S. Federal Government facilities with sensitive and restricted areas.


I could do this all day!  LOL…

The point is to However, I’m still amazed at how many businesses have never even done this basic level research and work in their business and they wonder why they are not attracting an audience?

The overwhelming majority of businesses engaged in blogging, content marketing and social media marketing are writing so broad that don’t say or mean anything and yet still expect that the readers will come and be converted to prospects and customers because they included a call-to-action and a form to fill out.

Sorry folks, it’s not 2010 and it doesn’t work that way anymore.

You need to be very specific – one problem or issue for one person with a solution.

Give them a reason to want to contact you!


Going Deeper into Your Target Market


While Codelocks did a great job of stating the obvious, there was a lot left on the table that they never considered.

In my research I discovered some entirely new target markets that their marketing and sales teams completely overlooked:


  • Fire departments
  • Police Department
  • Veterinary hospitals
  • Specialized vehicles that store sensitive items
  • And more…


WAIT! There is even more that is needed to help a business in marketing and sales and I’m about to explain how you can meet more of the right people and earn more sales!!!!

Recently I attended an event with the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce training where I met Rhonda Kleiman. Rhonda is the Business Resource Solutions Specialist with the Chamber and she shared some incredible ideas and tips on how to use various business databases for market research for target marketing.

What I learned is that there are some very powerful databases I never knew existed that have an incredible amount of information for both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing applications.

I’m big into understanding the audience because blogging and content marketing is a very personal thing. It’s not a mass marketing tool and as I’ve already explained without saying it that is really how most businesses are using the internet; and they are failing miserably and wasting a lot of money in the process.

What if you had this kind of information about your specific target audiences?


  • Purchasing habits of both businesses and individuals? Yes, we tell marketers a lot about ourselves when we use those coveted preferred shopping cards, credit and debit cards, make online purchases; and more. You never get names, addresses or sensitive information in reports and nor should you.
  • Specific locations of businesses in all kinds of detailed variations for virtually any need.
  • Lists of start-up businesses to include the type of business, location and the names of the owners. If you’re wondering these lists are coming from government sources when businesses incorporate or create LLC’s, etc. It’s all public information that is complied and updated monthly or quarterly.
  • Income ranges of neighborhoods or yes specific business revenues.
  • Educational levels.
  • Veteran status.
  • Life stages (young singles, young achievers, midlife success, households with children, empty nesters, seniors, etc…)
  • Lifestyle traits (where they shop, what they read, what they watch, what they drive, what’s important to them)


If there is a way to glean this type of information, then imagine how much better the quality of your content marketing, blogging, social media marketing, videos and podcasts could be?

You marketing goal is to simply demonstrate you’re competent and that you’re trustworthy because you understand your prospects and customers and can give them what they need or want.

In sales, your job is to allow them to buy you.  When I go into sales meetings with businesses I do my research. I know:


  • Their industry trends
  • Industry challenges
  • Public perception
  • Where their business fits into the industry norm based on the current business climate.

How do I know?

Because I have access to the data and data is where the real power is at. I’m no longer making assumptions. I’m able to tell a business that I know exactly what is happening in their industry and where their business is at and come to a meeting ready to offer solutions.

I am confident and competent and businesses appreciate that you have done the research and work.

That is what makes a business successful!

I don’t care if you’re in retail, manufacturing or service industries; or if you’re an offline or online business  –  these principles are the same!

Terry was struggling because she didn’t have enough data to support her message or give people a reason to buy from her.

Corporations spend millions of dollars on this type of data to reach their prospects and customers with solutions or fulfilling wants. They know that their success depends upon it.

So, Mr. or Ms. Business owner; why are you guessing and costing yourself money?


Your Challenge…


I’m going to challenge you… you can do research on Google. But, it will not take you far enough. The data is highly fragmented and it will take years to compile it in a format that you can use if you can find it, let alone find it in real time or in six month increments.

Maybe you do have access, do you have the outside perspective to objectively analyze the data and its application to your business?

Don’t be a do it yourself (diy) person and waste both time and money doing something that you may not have the skills and experience.

Did you know that according to the Small Business Administration and also in other formal data that 80% of all businesses who start will fail in 5 years. Of those businesses 70% will fail within the first 24 months.


Because they haven’t done the necessary work to define their passion, vision, message and target market or they have but they gleaned the wrong data because they didn’t understand it.

I want to challenge you to jump in and really discover your target audience and start growing your company.


A Solution


I am working to gain access to the most detailed business databases in the world that compile information from government data, Dun & Bradstreet and others who can provide all the information I spoke of above and more.

I am creating a new service that will take you through the process of helping you discover new target audiences and where they actually hang out at so that you can better and more cost effectively reach them.

Let me give you one quick example.

Let’s say you’re in pet supplies in Lancaster County, PA.

Did you know that pet supply spending in and around Lancaster city and the affluent communities around the city is from $0 – $500, but outside of the city the money spent on pet supplies can be as high as $20,000?


Because there are farm animals and working pets who service those farming animals. As a business they spend a lot of money to protect their assets. It’s the farmers and businesses in the county who are spending the big money on pet supplies.

Here is a more interesting thought…

How likely are farmers to be online doing Google searches when they work 14 hour days? The data however showed that 84% of them are hunters and fisherman and subscribe to Field and Stream magazine; and that 90% of them log onto Field and Stream’s website at least once a week.

Knowing this kind of data will help inform reports from sources like SEMrush or Google Keyword Planner to help you attract more relevant prospects via content marketing.

And, perhaps they ought to consider some ads in magazines if that’s where the target market is at in addition to banner ads on a website that directs them back to a content marketing piece that talks specifically to that audiences needs.

If you want to really start reaching those who are able, willing and ready to buy from you then your content marketing and blogging has to get more specific than it has ever gotten before.

Don’t be afraid of low numbers; be afraid of the wrong numbers.

For example, last week’s article was written for U.S. military veterans. Did you know I only got four comments? That’s a record low!!!!

However, I also got 20 new prospects to talk with. That’s a record high in one week for an article.

Specificity is your friend online and don’t put all the focus on metrics that don’t convert to sales.

I mentioned that I’m creating a new product where I will work with you to learn your specific target audience in more detail than you ever imagined before.

This new service is in beta as of May – July 2015. As such, the rate is significantly discounted. If you want to learn more about it and how I can help you discover the most valuable information your business may ever need; I want to encourage you to visit the “Contact” page and email me about your interest in the beta program. I would love to get to know your business and share this beta program with you to determine if we are a good fit for one another.

As of the publication date of this article, there is not a landing page yet but when there is I will update the site this week.

Terry’s story doesn’t have to be your story.

Click Here to Contact Me Today!

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

~ Don



If you have a comment, idea, or question please leave it below in the comments section and let’s get the conversation started!


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Don Purdum

Don Purdum

Don works with businesses to help them discover who their customers are and what business they are "really" in. He is an award-winning blogger and branding / marketing consultant.
Don Purdum
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22 thoughts on “Stop Misleading Yourself and Assuming You Know Your Target Market!

  1. Hi Don,

    I know am late but Congratulations on your one year anniversary.

    One of my beliefs about blogging is that we as bloggers are here to solve problems and to do that we’ll need to define our target audience and identify them.

    Am still trying to identify my target audience and I know with time I’ll get there.

    I enjoyed reading Terry’s story and I can clearly see that it’s not hard work that pays but smart work.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Am off to spread the word.

    Do have a great day!

    1. Hi Kore,

      Thank you. What an awesome journey it has been and it just keeps getting better and better!!!!

      I agree with your premise 100% and in fact so much so that it’s the foundation of every business. If I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I do offer free 60 minute consultations!

      Thanks so much for sharing Kore and I hope you have an incredible week!

      ~ Don

    1. Hi Dennis,

      Thank you! I appreciate the kind words. Yep, it’s one year this week and I’m just getting started. What an exciting time!!!!

      I hope you have a great week Dennis!

      ~ Don

  2. Hello Don, First off congratulations on your year anniversary, you have come a long way, I just love your pod casts. Keep it up my friend.

    Now for your article , well said, going it alone can not only be lonely but can cost you money in the end HUH?

    I to have been there done that LOL Your new service sounds interesting, cannot wait to learn more..

    Thanks for sharing and do have an Amazing Holiday weekend ahead..

    Chery :))

    1. Hi Chery,

      Thank you! It’s been an amazing journey and I can only imagine where the next few years will take me. I’m planning some special things coming up and I’m confident it will be a home run!!!!

      Absolutely, going it alone will get you… well alone and out of business in the long-term. The new service is one I’m excited about and has the potential to be a massive game changer for those businesses who are ready to stop making assumptions and are ready to work off of facts.

      My weekend was awesome and I hope yours was as well Chery.

      Have a great week.

      ~ Don

  3. Hi Don,

    Looking forward to your new product and congrats on your upcoming anniversary! Really amazing how fast time flies. It takes thinking to get good at the business bit, then acting. Most are lazy thinkers so they totally miss the boat and the point you make here. I am bigger on analysis these days, drilling down, doing what works and more than that, figuring out why and how things are working, through critical thinking.

    Again, most folks hate doing this and it’s why most folks fail to make a strong impact in the business world. If you’ll just analyze a little bit you will get a clearer vision of your target, based on what you’re seeing and feeling.

    Thanks Don!


    1. Hi Ryan,

      It really is amazing how fast the time goes. I can’t believe where I’m at today versus where I was this time last year. It’s like night and day. I can’t wait to see what the next year holds.

      Almost all my strategies are working and and now it’s time to focus more specifically as I help my clients do the same.

      I agree, there are many lazy thinkers – but there are also those who are not lazy but they are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. So, they just gravitate to their comfort zone and when someone challenges them and disrupts their comfort zone they shrink back.

      I’m excited about your journey and the last six months I’ve seen some massive shifts and changes occur in your business as well. Growing, learning, challenging ourselves and pushing the limits of the possible – it is exciting isn’t it?

      I hope you have a great weekend Ryan. I know I plan to just take it easy for the next four days, catch up on some reading and start preparing for the next push into the second half of the year.

      I think this new service has the potential to be a massive win if I can communicate it well enough.

      Chat soon!

      ~ Don

  4. This is great advice. You should really be able to clearly identify your target market and have a list ready full of future prospects. You not only need to research your market thoroughly, but you also need to research your clients thoroughly. This will help make a pitch and get leads. You must know your market and be able to clearly discuss what your business is about and how it adds value to others.

    1. Hi Lawrence,

      Thanks so much, I appreciate your feedback and encouragement! Understanding who your audience is in detail and how to attract them is the key to any business true success. Without paying customers there is nothing… just a hobby to be honest.

      I so appreciate your comment and I hope you have a great second half of your week!

      ~ Don

  5. In the present online world no man nor business is an Island. None would work in isolation successfully. Its very vital to work with professionals to help save time and money.

    When it comes to identifying the target market, expert opinion can save time and money. We can do with DIY for a short while when on shoe-string budget but this may not be sustainable.

    Terry’s experience is familiar and should be the one we learn from.

    The message in this post is clear and it would be wise to adhere strictly to the guided information for success!
    This comment was shared in as well.

    1. Hi Sunday,

      Absolutely, yet I have seen too many times where business owners intentionally isolate themselves and never get the help they need and it ends up costly them dearly.

      Target marketing can be a tricky thing when there is so much detail to glean. Who, what, when, where and why… all questions that derive from detail and knowing how to organize the detail into information that can be used to create the right strategies, goals and executable tasks.

      It has been interesting that sometimes there are massive target audiences that are under the surface that an assumption would never find.

      Thanks so much for commenting Sunday!

      ~ Don

  6. Hey Don,


    When I first started blogging I became conscience of this term but never really had a full understanding of how powerful it is and how to implement it. I do have to say that it’s one step you don’t want to skip or event cease to implement.

    I’ve gotten better at it and you know the funny thing is? I’m still digging to make it more specific. It’s by doing this will result in the right numbers you want as you mentioned.

    I’ve really come to understand that worker harder doesn’t solve the problem as you mentioned in Terry’s case. You become like a hamster in the wheel, running faster but not going anywhere. So instead of focusing on getting more work done you want to focus more on why you’re not getting the results you want. In many cases it’s because you’re not specific about your target market.

    Thanks Don for shedding some light on this! I hope you’re enjoying the week!

    1. Hi Sherman,

      It really is a process figuring out each of our target markets. It’s like progressing through math in some ways. You can’t do multiplication until you figure out addition and subtraction.

      I’m enjoying watching your progress Sherman and you’re doing a great job.

      Working harder… all that will do is work yourself out of a business. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time for hard work but it should be with a purpose and end in mind; not out of desperation or scarcity.

      I love your word picture, that’s really helpful and very true!

      My week is off to a great start. I hope you have a great week as well Sherman!

      ~ Don

  7. Hey Don,

    Great post.

    That story about Terry is really telling. Because you can work and the longest all the time, but if you do not work the smartest then the same thing will happen to you that happened to Terry.

    I think many people have a lot of assumptions about blogging when they first started out.My worst assumption was thinking that’s you can sell anything to anybody any time without having an audience.

    And the reason I had this thinking was because of my work offline … Primarily with mail order.

    I could just get a list of previous buyers for our products and then sell to them. But it doesn’t work that way with blogging or online.

    And it all comes down to knowing your target market. Once you know that and get a grasp on who they are, you’re much better off.

    Congrats on the upcoming anniversary and I’m amazed at what you’ve done in one year. Here’s to many more.

    – Andrew

    1. Hi Andrew,

      That is unfortunately a very common story. There are a lot of Terry’s out there who are not seeking the help they need and either they struggle a very long time unnecessarily until they figure it out or they go out of business.

      The assumptions don’t just apply to blogging, they also apply to business in general and marketing both online and offline. I’m learning there are a lot of options that I had no idea about and I’m confident that it’s true of most businesses as well.

      Thanks, I still can’t believe it’s been almost a year now. Where has the time gone?

      Have a great week Andrew!

      ~ Don

  8. Hi Don,

    I sure can relate to this one! It did take me a long time to “get it” back when I first started. I didn’t have a master plan…no plan at all. Just doing one affiliate market. I did learn the hard way…you know that school of hard knocks. And it wasn’t until I got really serious that I started to hire coaches. One on one! I find it is the best way to make strides in business.

    My first had me in tears….It was like boot camp to set up a plan of action. But I didn’t give up…I kept on with my “boots on the ground” on this journey. The AHA moment hit and I received clarity. I finally knew I was in business.

    Then another coach…to develop my first digital product. And another for marketing. What this all boils down to is that we cannot see things from our own perspective. It is like giving ourselves therapy. Impossible. We need someone to look at what we are doing and assist us with knowledge. We have to do our homework each and every day.

    This is why you are so good at what you do. In one year you have climbed the ladder of being a pro-blogger. Many take more time than that. You have also did your research and have a business tailor made. Now, with your new product to work with your target audience, I know that it is going to be helpful to the many people who take advantage of all you do.

    I cannot wait until it is out. Keep me posted.


    1. Hi Donna,

      I so appreciate your “schooling!” You are a great marketer and I know your long history is proving to make a difference for your clients… Heck, you and David have had a profound impact upon me!!!!!

      I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story. You have proven that endurance, perseverance and figuring it out pays off and from your experience we all benefit. Of course, not only do you need coaches but I know that many need you as a coach as well.

      Thank you very much for your kind and generous words. Can you believe that it was almost a year ago next week that I started and the blog? Where has the time gone?

      I will certainly keep you posted and perhaps in the next week or so we can even chat on the phone. I would love to get your perspective.

      Have a great evening and week ahead Donna!

      ~ Don

  9. Hi Don,

    Nice to be back here.

    There’s no doubt that being specific is key. I’ve spent all those years without understanding this concept because I wasn’t taught that at all when I first started blogging. All they were talking about back then was choose low fruit type/long tail keywords, and that’s about it.

    I know I still have some work to do, but at least I’ve got the concept and I’m slowly applying it in my posts, but what I’m still missing is finding where exactly I should hang out to mangle with my potential clients.

    As always, very good information, Don.

    ~ Sylviane

    1. Hi Sylviane,

      It looks like you’re having a great time in the U.K. on Facebook. I’m really excited for your adventure and it’s a lot of fun following your posts! Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

      I think many are still being taught the same things and the frustration I’m hearing from business owners is boiling over. Too many promises of the internet and no real results. You get out of it what you put into it, right?

      It is a process of learning and mastering our craft.

      We all have work to do and recognizing it is half the battle. Your challenge is not unfortunately unique, but it is possible to learn as I shared in the article.

      I appreciate your comment and kind words.

      I hope you have an amazing week Syvliane!!! Keep those FB posts coming.

      ~ Don

  10. Hey Don,

    So I definitely could relate to what you shared here and I know a few people like Terry. I think the only reason I succeeded was because I refused to give up. Of course when I first came online I didn’t have my vision like Terry did. I can see though how she went wrong because I think for those who are passionate about something they just expect everyone else to be and immediately find their content. We both know it doesn’t work that way.

    I also can relate to the number of comments you had on your posts once you started really networking. As we both know, it’s great to get you on the map and in front of enough people. That can really help you as far as people getting to know more about what it is that you do. Are they all our target audience though? Not at all and I really loved your post you wrote that used the painter as the example. As you said here, most of us speak to the DIY’s instead of those in need of what we offer.

    If we all want to be successful we have to take a step back, reevaluate what we’re doing and change some things. I’m thrilled though that you’ve been helping me with the direction I’m headed and I KNOW your new service is going to be awesome. Anyone who works with you will definitely get a much clearer vision of who their audience is and what the heck they need to do about getting in front of them.

    Thank you Don for this post and message. I’m off to share it as well.


    1. Hi Adrienne,

      I’m so glad to see you’re settling back into your routine. I’m sure the last week has been challenging for you and you have been in my thoughts and prayers!

      The fact that you can relate is a testimony to your commitment and endurance. Sometimes it does take that and you are a relationship superstar so I’m not surprised by your results even if they weren’t planned and not necessarily the ones you wanted. In your case, you are the rare exception to the rule.

      Now, you get to refine who you are and who you want to attract.

      I am actually very flattered that you actually remember some of my posts. That really means a lot to me!!!!

      I will be interested to see how the new service goes. By the end of the week I will have the landing page up and more details.

      I look forward to chatting in a few days and in the meantime I hope you have an amazing week!!!!

      ~ Don

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