THE BLOG
06/03/2014 02:58 pm ET Updated Aug 03, 2014

The Biggest Mistake Made in Business Marketing

Researchers say that we're presented with thousands of ads every day. We ignore almost all of them for one main reason: they don't apply to us and they don't resonate with our needs/values.

This happens all the time because businesses and marketing newbies try to make their products and services all things to all people - rather than fishing with the kind of lure that catches a specific type of fish, they troll the entire ocean hoping that whatever they catch is that right fish. In other words, they don't understand market segmentation (the same could also be said of job seekers who don't cater their resume to the job).

Market segmentation involves breaking down a broad audience into a smaller subset of customers. You can divide along demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.) and/or psychographics (values, lifestyles, interests, etc.). The more that you can segment a market by narrowing it down while still having an audience large enough to offset any investment, the better. Broad marketing is not only very expensive, but generally ineffective as well.

Example of Poor Segmentation (too broad):

I want to target the young (ages 12-25) Christian market in the Midwest.

The above example can be improved by narrowing and/or adding additional qualifiers. For example, this could be re-written to:

I want to target male Christians, ages 18-25, who live in the Iowa and are interested in bluegrass music and purchase CDs from brick and mortar stores.

Here are some guidelines on finding new markets based on segmentation:

It Requires Experimentation: You will need to try out different combinations of demographics and psychographics before settling on some. Researching different groups will help give you an idea over the size of the market that is available to you.

Don't Rely on Stereotypes: People are often complex and have varied interests or habits. Sometimes, you'll seemingly contradictory values, traits, or interests - in fact, those are often the best niche markets because they are often ignored. For example, there are many Buddhist Christians and vegetarians who eat bacon. By trying new, unique combinations, you might find a new niche.

Have a Minimum: You'll need some standard to measure by in order to see if there is enough of an audience in a particular market. Some examples include: number of websites or interest-based magazines, followers or groups on social media, message boards, subculture-based videos, books, and the amount of other musicians targeting this same market, if any.

Connect the Pieces: It's best if you have a direct connection with that new audience, even if you aren't actively targeting it. You might have a song, imagery in a music video, certain fans, personal values, or other things related to the interest of the new market already. Coming from a place of authenticity is going to be much more effective than if you are only pandering to the market.

You can't effectively market yourself to everyone so it's important to be strategic about the process. Do some research, look at the potential, and find ways to connect. As you collect this information, save your notes so you can compare the pro's and con's of each potential new market. By focusing on your core audience and applying the principles of market segmentation, you'll see a much higher return on investment for your money and time.