3 Ways to Identify Your Marketplace's Target Audience

CJ Todd | December 6, 2016

3 Ways to Identify Your Marketplace's Target Audience

You’ve finally launched your marketplace but did you thoughtfully define your target market? Without identifying who you’re targeting, that killer advertising campaign you’ve been working on may fall on deaf ears.


You need to communicate the benefits of your marketplace and devoting some extra time to understanding your niche can greatly maximize your marketing ROI.

Marketplace giants like Uber and Airbnb know that marketing their services in highly populated, tourist-heavy cities is more effective than in rural Montana. When you can identify which segments of the population will be more inclined to use your product or service, you’ll be able to establish more successful campaigns than by indiscriminate marketing.


If you’re not quite sure where to begin, these three steps can provide a good starting point!


  1. Identify what need your marketplace fills


Think about who your marketplace will benefit. What’s their demographic profile? Factors like age, sex, buying power, location and marital status can help you develop buyer personas to narrow your advertising.


Let’s say you identify that your marketplace benefits men ages 25 to 45. Though they might have the same interests, a 25 year old might be single and just starting their first job. You’d want to deliver a different message to him than a 45 year old, who may be a 20-year industry professional who’s married with children. Each person within your target audience has different priorities and therefore different buying habits.


By targeting each segment of your audience with specific tailored messaging, you’re more likely to appeal to their needs. Identifying their differences will result in more successful marketing, but understanding their similarities will help you build community once they come to your marketplace.


  1. Use layers of segmentation


Think of your segmentation process like an onion, or a cake, depending on which Shrek character you identify with (millennial joke!). Point being: LAYERS!


You might begin by applying a gender filter. If your marketplace is a community looking to use their neighbor’s power tools, it might be wise to focus a large majority of your marketing efforts on men.


When you think of marketplace liquidity, it could be a good idea to then filter by age. I don’t own many power tools but I know my neighbor who’s in his 50’s has a garage full. Supply-side demographics may be different that demand-side demographics, which is something you should always keep in mind.


A third filter you might add is annual income. Knowing where demand exists is important, but understanding which segment has the discretionary income to actually make a transaction is even more important. This information can also give you a good idea about where to price your product or service to better position your brand. Test the layers of your onion, or cake, until you’ve identified a sweet spot (onions can be sweet too!).


  1. Get real data


Market research is really the key to success and you can get plenty done with limited resources. Your marketplace doesn’t exist within a vacuum. There is usually plenty of secondary data out there to help you identify demographic segments that would benefit from your offering. Do a Google search targeted at any kind of governing body that exists around your niche, odds are they have published some kind of research.


Once you feel confident enough to launch your marketplace, frequently ask your users to complete surveys. Let them know that it helps you cater to their needs in the best way possible. You might even give an added bonus for giving feedback. A credit or free offer can incentivise  people to take the survey and stimulate marketplace activity at the same time.


Final thoughts…


Launching a marketplace is hard and in many cases, really scary. I know because I've launched my own. You probably second guess your decisions daily and wonder if the things you’re doing are the right things. Having the most information is the best way to be confident if your decisions.

You already know your marketplace is awesome. Understand what’s worked in certain target markets will help you tailor your offering to maximize success. After that, keep updating your strategy with your real-time customer data.


The fact is that no one can fully predict marketplace success. Big companies have lots of money to throw at pre-launch market research, but they still can’t guarantee a home run. If you stick to your plan and stay hungry for knowledge, your marketplace has nowhere to go but up!   


What strategies have you used to identify your target audience? Let me know in a comment below!