The Difference between a

Target Market and a Market

· Target Market,Marketing,Marketing Tips,Marketing Strategies,Small Business

Have you ever wondered what exactly that jargon of “target market” means for small business marketing? Congrats! You’re not alone. It’s probably one fo the most challenging concepts for small business owners, so let’s break it down! 

The Concept

A Target Market: A specific section of the market that you target with your marketing.

The reality is, anyone could buy from you. (E. G., if you sell ink then anybody could buy your ink.) But not everyone is your ideal buyer (E. G., the person who is looking for and going to keep using and buying more of that ink). Not everyone is the ideal customer for your business, and that’s what the Target Market is all about. It’s not about selling only to a specific kind/group of people, but it’s about focusing your marketing on one specific kind/group of people.

Here’s why it’s important for small business owners: 

Small business owners don’t have the budget to compete in a huge marketplace. We can’t go toe-to-toe with the gigantic corporations that have marketing budgets that dwarf our annual revenue, so we have to market smarter and not harder. That’s what the Target Market is. It is your niche, the small niche of marketing that you’re calling to by name (for lack of a better term) and saying “My product is made for you.”

The Application: Finding Your Target Market

There are two key pieces of information that you need in order to figure out and use your target market: psychographics and demographics (Don’t worry, I’ll break down the big psychology terms). 


These are the basic bits of information that identify them outwardly.

For Example,

  • What age they are
  • Where they are living (house, apartment, condo, etc)
  • If they have kids
  • If they are married
  • What places they frequent (coffee shops, Target, etc)

You can find this information in a ton of different places and social media is a great tool for determining this because you can use current ideal customers as a template.

Why find this information?

Having a Target Market demographic is going to tell you the best places to put your message. Knowing the places that your target market frequents is going to tell you what places you can put your message so that they will see it. It takes your marketing message out of the gigantic pool and sticks it in a tiny bucket, so to speak. So instead of competing with the big flashy ads of CocaCola, you’re only competing with the other people who are marketing in the exact places you’re marketing.

In other words, it allows you to get more response from your marketing because the same people are seeing it on a consistent basis (instead of sending it out where people might see it once.)


If the demographic is the way someone is seen outwardly, the psychographic is their mentality toward themselves and the world around them.

The psychographic is a more detailed understanding of the mentality and perspective that your target market holds. It’s the way that they see government, family, religion, and life in general. What this part of the target market allows you to do is to determine what kind of message will resonate with them the best.

For Example, if I know that my target market is farmers, I’m not going to craft a message that says “Get away from the hustle and bustle.” because they’re already away from it. They are going to resonate more clearly with something that understands the concerns that are important to them, and addresses them specifically.

In other words, the psychographic tells you what to put in the places that the demographic tells you to put them.

The How-To

At this point in the conversation, people often ask me how they find their target market. So here’s the answer: research.

Start Where You Can

Start with what you already know. You may start with your psychographic or with your demographic, either is fine because you’ll fill in the other one with your research. But determine what kind of people you want to be serving/selling to and start to fill in the gaps in your knowledge through research. 

Everyone will know something slightly different about their target market, and that’s normal. Some people will start off knowing exactly what kind of demographic they want to market to, some people may only know part of their psychographic. That’s where the research comes in.

If you’re like me, you almost left this page when you saw the word research. But stick with me here! Because a few hours of research is a much better investment (and less costly) than months of bad direction with your marketing.

Be prepared for a little educated guess work

It’s not all going to be straight research. Sometimes you’ll have to make an educated (note the qualification here) guess on a specific area of the target market that you just can’t find information on. But as long as you’re making it an educated guess based on the research you’ve pulled together, you’ll probably be right.

Especially if you utilize Google to find the answers to questions you know your target market is asking.

A Few Examples

So let’s say you do have some demographic information, which most of my clients do when we start working on our target market. Here’s a couple of the common options that we work through.

If You Only Know Their Job

I recently had a client who literally only knew that their target market was manufacturing plant workers. That was it. They didn’t even know age or gender.

Which is fine! Here’s what we did that you can do as well.

We started by looking at the demographics of manufacturing plant workers across the US, and then began to narrow it down to the specific geographic region. Once we’d found the general demographic information, we could begin to do more detailed research and fill in all of the gaps (where they hang out on and offline, hobbies, influencers, industry, etc).

Finding general demographic information is where you’ll start, then you’ll narrow it based on more detailed research regarding that general demographic.

If You Only Have a Broad Range of Data

If you’re looking at old data from your clients or you’ve already got pages upon pages of data, that’s workable too!

We worked with someone recently who had that happen to them, because they had a lot of random data about their target market but had no idea how to bring it together. So here’s what we did.

We looked through all the data and searched for commonalities within it. We searched for things like the top 3 regions people are from, the top 3 industries, the top 3 average incomes, etc. Finding as many commonalities as possible when you already have a huge range of data gives you a clearer picture of what your specific target market looks like.

Ultimately, this option comes down to finding patterns within the data.

Still struggling with the target market? Grab a 15 minute slot on my calendar, I’m more than happy to sit down with you and talk through it.