The Importance of Geography and Demographics in Defining a Target Market

Defining a target marketing with geography and demographics

I’ve worked in content marketing for the better part of a decade now. From every company or agency I’ve been a part of, one aspect of marketing has been a constant – the need for a tightly-defined, concise target market.

That’s an obvious need, especially to anyone at all familiar with eCommerce. Here’s the thing, though – defining your target marketing – through demographic or geographic marketing – isn’t a cut-and-dried process. It’s nuanced and full of more variables than we like to acknowledge.

Geography and demographics are therefore that much more valuable because they provide that up-close-and-personal understanding of potential customers. Without that intimate knowledge, you’ll either flounder for a higher profit margin or watch your income become stagnant.

I’ve been both with and without clearly-defined target markets. The following examples illustrate with real-life examples the importance of geographic and demographic marketing, and we’ll look at a few ways to find that information for your target audience as well.

Fly Fishing Apparel

About a year and a half ago I took a side gig with a startup apparel company based out of Colorado. The company sold fly fishing apparel. For confidentiality’s sake, I’ll refer to them as Company A.

This gig was attractive to me because I’m as obsessed with fly fishing as Brad Pitt’s character in A River Runs Through It, and I love to write. When Company A wanted me to act as “marketing director” I jumped on the opportunity.

Company A had a lot of problems, but the most glaring was their lack of a definition of who they wanted buying their products.

The fly fishing market is comprised of roughly 4.5 million anglers in America, according to latest industry reports. While that’s certainly a smaller niche than others, not every angler wants the same type of apparel.

With that in mind, I provided a proposal for customer personas and targeted marketing based on the following factors:

  • Men aged 18 – 55 were most likely of any demographic group to purchase fly fishing apparel
  • Men aged 18 – 55 located within the Mountain West were significantly more apt to buying than men aged 18 – 55 from the East or West Coasts
  • Brand loyalty and local business loyalty could be capitalized to create local demand for the product among men aged 18 – 55

That last point is warrants a bit more discussion. Fishermen, like a lot of niche sports groups, are starkly brand loyal. As the Annex Cloud noted in a piece specifically examining the sporting goods industry, “the dynamism of loyalty makes people . . . stay with you, it ups the customer retention rate. . . Increasing customer retention rate by 5% increases profit by 25 to 95%.” Local companies harness that loyalty at an even higher rate, according to Entrepreneur.

Armed with the knowledge that anglers enjoy local business – and data to back up that claim – I launched a marketing campaign targeted at specific towns in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming that are known for being “fishing towns.”

Within a few weeks, Company A had their first organic sales via Facebook.

The newest venture

I’ve since moved on from Company A, but now I run my own fly fishing lifestyle website. I’m not selling merchandise yet, but the theory behind driving traffic to the site, increasing readership, and getting numbers that merit ad deals with gear sponsors, remains the same as driving traffic for eCommerce. I want a specific group of people visiting my new website.

I’ve used a lot of what I learned at Company A for the new site. The idea of geographic marketing, though, has only taken on more significance for me.

Why?

Look at this screenshot from my Analytics report for July 1 – Aug 1.

Google analytics for fly fishing site

I’m based in Utah, so it makes sense the top state is my home state. The next few, though – California, Colorado, New York, and Oregon, specifically – are all known for being great fly fishing destinations.

Breaking that data down further, I see the following:
City specific Google analytics data

Salt Lake City is Utah’s largest city, and lies in close proximity to the Provo, Weber, Ogden, and Green rivers. These are all nationally-renowned destinations in the fly fishing world.

Here’s the best part about this type of in-depth knowledge, though. I already knew the towns listed (Salt Lake, Logan, Roy, Draper, and Lehi, specifically) have high populations of fly fishermen. I knew that because I know the industry, but to have that assumption backed up by data?

That’s invaluable in terms of knowing your target market and selling executives on your targeted marketing strategy.

Knowing the market

Now we move into a bit more subjective topic of discussion.

I know where my market is, and I know men aged 18 – 55 are my desired demographic. But I also know fishermen. I know what type of messaging works, what resounds with them. I know the type of photography and video that captures their attention. In short, I know the market because I’m part of it, and in essence, I do a lot of marketing based on what I know I’d like to see.

Not every marketer has that luxury. Whether you’re launching a campaign for your own business, or a business within a niche that you’re not terribly familiar with, you’ll have to work hard to get the kind of insight needed to run a really effective campaign.

A lot of preliminary research can be done online – this piece from Inc.com has a lot of valuable insight – which gives you one of your most valuable tools: data. As you learn more about your target audience, you can use that data to either validate your existing strategy or make tweaks to it.

For example, say you’re working with an online store that specializes solely on selling high-end waffle irons. (Yes, this is something that exists – some waffle irons go for well over $1,600.) First, you’d need to research waffle irons enough to know whether their target market should be restaurateurs or people with a large amount of disposable income.

You’ll have to immerse yourself in the industry to know it well enough to create effective marketing campaigns. Once you have a rough idea of the kind of person who’d spend $1,600 on a waffle iron is, take them to lunch or arrange another style of meeting. Go into it wanting to learn what you can, prepared to ask questions about what style of marketing messages resonate best with them.

Once you’ve gone that far down the particular rabbit hole you’re marketing for, you’ll see where your earlier assumptions can be backed up by hard data, or where they need adjustment.

So what does that do for you?

With this information, it means you need to work harder to understand the demographics and geography of your target market. I’ve seen a huge difference between knowing the fly fishing market as well as I do – and subsequent engagement rates and sales – versus other industries I’ve marketed to.

Take the time to delve into your target market and you’ll come away with a better understanding of who they are. That translates directly to more profits and marketing campaigns that perform up to or beyond your expectations.

About Spencer Durrant

Spencer Durrant is a content marketing strategist, avid outdoorsman, and nationally-published author. His work - including fly fishing, outdoors, and sports columns - has been featured in publication such as Field & Stream, The Miami Herald, Reuters, the AP, and more. Connect with him on Twitter/Instagram @Spencer_Durrant.

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