How to Be Persuasive and Always Get What You Want

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Play Bigger" by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, et al.. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is a target market? How can you identify the target market of your company?

A target market is a specific group of consumers that may potentially buy your product. It’s important to pinpoint your target market and understand what their unmet needs are so you can fulfill them.

Let’s discuss how to identify a target market in the five parts highlighted in Play Bigger.

Identifying Your Target Market

The authors write that the first step of designing your market and becoming its winner is to identify your target market by pinpointing an unmet need in peoples’ lives or a new way for your existing technology to fill an unmet need. At your low-tech company, you might identify the unmet need for less intrusive technology. Your market, then, becomes the market for low-tech devices. 

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t first create the product and then decide what its market will be, note the authors. Instead, as we’ve discussed, you must build your product, market, and company at the same time for them so they support each other and create the flywheel effect you need to become the market winner.

The authors suggest learning how to identify a target market in five parts:

Part 1: Decide who will identify the unmet need. The CEO must support this effort, but someone with an outsider’s perspective—a firm or someone hired for this purpose—must spearhead it because identifying an unmet need requires a fresh outlook on the company and product. Plus, this person must be able to dedicate themselves exclusively to this work. 

(Shortform note: If your company doesn’t currently have the resources to hire an outside firm or new employee, consider recruiting trusted friends or business associates into a casual business support group. You can meet regularly and offer each other fresh perspectives on your respective business questions.)

Part 2: Conduct research on the unmet need. The person leading the work must then gather information about the company, what it does, and the market it currently occupies. They can do this by speaking to company leaders, board members, and advisors, and by researching your industry. However, this person shouldn’t ask customers for their opinions. This is because the market you’re creating will be totally new, so customers won’t yet understand the need you’re fulfilling and will give you unhelpful feedback. 

(Shortform note: In Raving Fans, Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles argue that there’s one realm of your business in which you should ask for customer feedback: customer service. The Play Bigger authors might agree that obtaining feedback on customer service is useful because you’re not inventing customer service from scratch in the same way you’re inventing a new market (unless you are inventing a novel form of customer service no one’s seen before). What’s more, Blanchard and Bowles agree with the Play Bigger authors on the need to gather information internally but add that you should also obtain information from partners like suppliers and manufacturers.)

Part 3: Hold ideation meetings with leaders. Next, the leader of this work must have a (preferably day-long) meeting with company leaders to teach them about the importance of creating a new market and brainstorm how to establish the right new market. These are the topics you should brainstorm and discuss: 1) customers you want to target, 2) the problem your product solves in the new market and its solution, 3) how you can express this problem in a way that will resonate with the customer, 4) the mindset shift your customer must make to embrace your new market and product, 5) what your new product is. 

(Shortform note: The authors’ advice on how to lead an ideation meeting may seem vague. While ideation or brainstorming sessions do require creativity and fluidity, it’s equally important to bring structure to such meetings to prompt and corral the best ideas and allow everyone present to have their voice heard. To this end, consider asking participants to prepare beforehand by researching or reading the documents you provide. Additionally ensure everyone attending understands the purpose of the meeting, and encourage them to ask questions if they’re confused. During the meeting, pay attention to who’s contributing a lot and call on quieter participants to add their thoughts.)

Part 4: Pick a name for the new market. During these meetings, you’ll start to identify a name for your market. Settling on a good final name may take a while, and if that final name is somewhat technical, you may need to do extra work to help customers understand it. The name should be two to three words long (for example, “low-tech tech” for your low-tech device market). 

(Shortform note: Taking a note from Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People, you might also encourage employees to use the market name as often as possible. This is because frequent use embeds the name more firmly in employees’ and customers’ minds and also positions the market as something important and worth paying attention to—in the same way we pay more attention to what’s being said when the speaker uses our name.)

Part 5: Create a document of your work. This should include: 1) a description of the new market, 2) the market ecosystem (the third-party developers, consultants, stores, analysts, and partners with whom you’ll work in tandem), 3) the mindset shift your customer must make to embrace your new market and product, 4) the final market name, 5) the reason for the new market.

In the case of your low-tech device company, these points might be: 1) A market for people who want less invasive technology, 2) Retailers, developers, and analysts, 3) Your customers must go from thinking that more technology is better for their lives to thinking that less technology is better for their lives, 4) “Low-tech tech,” 5) Technology has negatively affected people’s mental health, and we should be using less, not more, of it.

How to Identify Your Target Market: The 5-Part Process

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Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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