When I hear people say “target market” to refer to people we want to attract, it grates on me.
“Target” has awful war-like connotations. And that leads us to make bad marketing decisions.
Just have a look at these images that marketers use to describe the “target market” concept and I think you’ll see the problem. It implies that guns and arrows are pointing at our customers.
We are not at war with them. They are not the enemy! And yet that is what this phrase tells our brains. Yikes!
This “target” phrase comes from the old-school sales approach of pushing something or making people do something. Anyone want to buy from a classic “used car salesman” anymore? I didn’t think so.
War-like words in the marketing world are common. It’s a symptom of why marketing has a bad reputation, especially among introverts, highly sensitive people, and anyone with a big heart. We want to be in business but we don’t want to do anything “icky.”
I’ll make my point and describe some alternatives that can help you find your way with marketing.
Our Words Affect Our Approach
I know you don’t want to be that pushy salesman, so let’s stop talking like one. Our words affect our approach and our decisions whether we realize it or not.
This “target” concept also implies that the seller has all the power, as if we can make people do anything. You can’t.
The customer has the power, now more than ever, thanks to social media and online reviews. If we don’t honor that, we’ll be wasting time and money, or worse, treading on thin ice.
Hint: A sign that you’re still thinking “push” without realizing it, is if you hate promoting your services. If you hate promoting, stop and rethink.
How Saying “Target Market” Leads to Bad Outcomes.
Here are the problems with “target market” wording:
- Implies that the seller will make the customer do something. Who wants that?
- Implies that the seller is in charge, which is false and leads to bad marketing decisions. (Plus it’s patronizing and not the world we want to create.)
- Implies that you have to go hunt them down. Leads to overdoing and poor results.
- Pushy used car salesman approach. ‘nough said.
- We need to focus on client attraction with generosity of spirit, so we should use words that match that.
- Words effect our subconscious mind which tells our brain to do push marketing, even if we think we are not pushy.
What Terms To Use Instead
You could say something like “ideal client” or “ideal customer” instead. Other options include “niche market,” “my people,” or “the people I can genuinely help.”
When you use more heart-centered wording, your brain will conjure up images of a happy match between you and your customers. It’s about resonance. And client attraction.
When you envision your ideal client, you’ll be more likely to find out what they want and provide just that. No pushing required.
The right customers will resonate with your offerings. They’ll be naturally drawn to it, like birds to flowers.
You’ll be happier, they’ll be happier, and your pocketbook will be happier too.
No one has to be pushed or targeted.
This idea of client attraction replacing pushy sales is not new. The best marketers are all advising that mindset as what works today.
It works and it makes our heart happy. But our “target” wording has not caught up.
- Let’s stop targeting (pushing) in words and action. Stop saying “target market.” [Tweet that]
- Let’s say “ideal client,” “niche market,” “my people,” “the people I can genuinely help,” or whatever helps you feel connected to who you serve.
- If you hate promoting your services, stop. You’re probably trying to push, and that doesn’t work. [Click to tweet]
Do you use another word for your client base that works for you? I’d love to hear about it, or any feedback about this idea, in the comments below.