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Your Target Market Is Not Always Who You Think It Is

This is a guest post by John Hoff.

Like many bloggers out there, I’ve written an ebook and have a sales page (and mine in particular is on security for WordPress).

Since its release in March of 2010, I’ve learned quite a bit about who my real target market is and to be honest, in the beginning I was wrong and missed my target market.

You see, there’s a difference between who you know your audience should be and who your audience actually will end up being.

For my product, my ideal customer should be anyone who has a WordPress site, blogging or not. Blogs get hacked every single day and here’s a product which shows bloggers how to defend themselves.

I Thought I Had a Winner

Don’t get me wrong, I do make some sales, but I went into this thinking I could educate bloggers about the security risks out there and when they’d hear my story, they’d see the light of what I was telling them and I’d get a sale.

But it didn’t turn out that way. Turned out these were not my real target customers, but more on that in just a moment.

Another Example

So let’s think for a moment about a product and who you might think should be the target market for it, but in reality the assumption would be wrong.

Let’s say you’re going to sell clocks and you’re looking at who your target customers might be. The first thing you’d probably ask yourself is, “Who needs a clock? Everyone!”

Unfortunately for clock makers, that’s not so. The guy who’s been late for work four times this week and who’s about to lose his job if he’s late again needs a clock. Everyone else…they aren’t a target market.

Emotion sells, just like I mentioned in my Copyblogger post where I talked about using emotional writing to kick-start your sales.

My True Target Customer

Unfortunately, my true target customer (for my ebook) is the person who has already had their site hacked; in other words, they’ve been taught a lesson – and it doesn’t matter how emotional of a story or how well I put it, if the person is not in the right mindset and not looking for what I’m selling, forget it.

The people who have already gone through the horrible experience of being hacked are pretty easy sells for my ebook, which in turn taught me who my real target customers were… not “WordPress bloggers”, but “Hacked WordPress bloggers”.

It almost doesn’t matter how good my content is, if they’re:

  • not convinced.
  • haven’t experienced the problem.
  • have no desire to learn about the subject.

Unless my headline really pulls them in, they probably won’t spend more than 3 or 4 seconds on my site.

A while back I did a little testing which increased my ebook’s site traffic for a few days. In one day I went from 50 visits to 750 – and most of that traffic should have been WordPress bloggers.

And you know how many ebooks I sold?

Five!

Oh I had over 100 new mini-course sign ups, but sales, just 5.

Ideally, 95% of these people should of been my target customers (i.e. WordPress bloggers). Logically, yes. But buying is never a logical process.

In truth, they just haven’t been taught the lesson and are not looking for what I’m telling them. They hear my logic, but buying was never a logical process. They haven’t experienced the emotional trauma others have had when their blogs got hacked.

One guy wrote me an email and said how much he loved the emotional story my sales page conveyed and how it really brought him into the story. I asked him, “Yes but did it get you to buy the book?”

He said “No, because I’m not your target customer.”

I checked his website and noticed it was a WordPress blog and that the security options I mention to everyone were not being implemented. That means this person “should be” my target customer, he just doesn’t know it.

He doesn’t know it because he hasn’t yet been taught a lesson or educated himself in the real dangers and likelihood that his blog can be hacked.

It’s unfortunate because securing your blog before someone tries to hack it ideally should be a on a blogger’s top 5 to-do list. If one day their blog gets hacked and removed from Google’s search engine because it’s reported as a virus site, I bet I can guess what their #1 priority will be.

Care to take a guess?

Wrapping It Up

Like I said in the beginning, my original target customers were anyone who had a WordPress blog, but experience has taught me that people buy on emotion. I can educate them about the dangers of having their sites hacked all day long, but in the end, people who have gone through the horrible emotional experience of having their blogs hacked once before know that cold emotional feeling very well…

…and they don’t want to feel it again.

Those are the people who easily buy my product, and they’ll be the type that buy your product the easiest as well. They are the ones with an emotional attachment to a problem they have.

Don’t get me wrong, for my product, everyone who has a WordPress site and who hasn’t been hacked can still be convinced to buy – I just have to up the scare factor big time and create a sense of high fear.

But upping the scare factor to the point I’d need to go is usually not what most ethical people want to do. Ethical people want to explain the need and have people make informed decisions. That’s very doable, but it’s a much longer, harder road.

So the question I have for you then is, what about your product or service?

Have you really stopped to consider who your real target market is? If it’s sales you want, your best target market might not be the group you’re wanting to sell to, because they might be clueless even though you know they need it.

Your true target market will most likely be the ones who have already experienced the problem and they need that problem solved TODAY.

About the author: John Hoff blogs for a blog web hosting company and has written an ebook on WordPress security, which shows bloggers how to lockdown their blogs against unwanted intruders. He really, really, really hates malicious hackers.

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