Targeting a specific market essentially means you will aim your marketing efforts and cater your storytelling towards a specific group of consumers. The consumer marketplace is like a giant beehive of billions of individuals each with their own unique set of interests. When you are a new author (like me) it’s critical to obtain a clear sense of where your market opportunity lies, or else we can waste a lot of precious time and money executing initiatives that produce little, if any, return.
So what’s a smart starting point in identifying your target market? I would say it’s probably safe to assume that you as the author fall within this group of consumers who would read your book(s). Ask yourself: what type of consumer am I? When I am looking to read something what are my propensities and where do I go to find it? I typically read young adult, historical fiction novels that deal with social and psychoanalytical factors such as social justice, radial injustice, defense mechanisms, coping and so on. I also look for stories with core elements of drama and action. I’m not much for fantasy, sci fi or romance. Sometimes I’ll pick up the occasional biography or autobiography. However, this is not a theme of my writing so I would exclude it from my key word list. I would suggest conducting a consumer segmentation analysis on yourself and most importantly: take notes! Once you have a list of your buying behaviors double-check that it’s relevant to your book as well as narrow (keep it between 4-5 key words). A list that’s all over the map is going to defeat the whole purpose of a target market by stiffening your competition and losing control of your prospective customers. Title this list “Key Words.”
For example: the genre of my Extra Innings trilogy (The Diamond Thieves) is historical fiction and young adult. Also search Twitter for #newauthor and #author. I search for Tweets and blogs with these key phrases. When I find a Tweet or blog that I enjoyed reading or (even better) learned something from, I comment, therefore, trying to build a relationship with this individual Twitter user or blogger who shares the same relevant interest.
Next search Google, Twitter, Amazon and Goodreads for those key words. (Note: when using Twitter hit the pound sigh before each word with no spaces. For example: #historicalfiction or #socialinjustice Google’s search engine connects you with millions of advertisements and services. Some of these services are blogs and by narrowing your search down via key words, look specifically for people writing blogs about that topic. Twitter is a social network for connecting people, organizations and businesses with in-the-moment updates. Amazon.com is a MSP (multisided platform) connecting consumers to purchase goods and services. Craigslist does the same thing. Networking on these sites can gain you access to a segmented audience that may otherwise be unattainable.
Once you have found a blog that falls into the same space as one of your keywords, then read it. If you like what it has to say, leave a comment with your website address inviting the blogger to check out your site. Your # search in Twitter will bring up a list of Tweets referencing that specific keyword. Read the Tweet, if you like it click on the tiny star symbol below the Tweet. If you wish to comment Click the left-pointing arrow to message the initiator of that Tweet. Or click the double arrows to Re-Tweet the post and it will appear on your Twitter feed. This process is called networking and I recommend doing so with at least 1 blogger and 3-4 Twitter users per day. We will get more into using Twitter on future blogs as today’s focus is Identifying Your Target Market. As a beginner, I kept a log of the bloggers and Twitter users I was following. I also recommend saving blogger sites in your Favorites so they are easily accessible.
At the end of Week 1, review your log and make sure that everything lines up with your original key word list. Anything falling outside of that give it a full review. If the list becoming too wide it needs to be scrubbed for non-relevant relationships.
Now we’re going to dig a little deeper to define the more specific segments of our target market. Scan your book for any specific places, year or decades (ie. the 60’s or 90’s) brand names (especially ones that are unique or if you are writing an historical novel brands or products that are no longer being produced), ethnic backgrounds of your characters, special events or holidays, special interests, hobbies or activities. You’re allowed to have more than one niche market, just remember not to allow your consumer segments to become too broad of it defeats the purpose of targeting. Try and stick with common themes used throughout your book versus obscure ones mentioned only once or twice. For example, if your main character is a writer or poet or dancer or real estate agent or banker then this would be a key word falling within the special interests, hobbies or activities category. Two common themes used in my first book (The Diamond Thieves) is baseball and social injustice. Write these down. These will also become key words. Now, use Twitter or Google to search for those key words. Begin to network with these users as you did in Week 1 with your first key word list. Hopefully after these three targeted weeks of networking you are identifying your target market and learning something about your relevant segmentation of readers.
During the following 2 weeks I would recommend individually repeating the networking steps in Weeks 1 & 2. Once you a comfortable you can begin merging them together. Hopefully this gains you some viral traction on these sites. I would also recommend reading the works of your Twitter followers and posting something positive on Goodreads.com or Amazon.com to help promote them. Notify them on their Twitter page when you’ve done this.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to share. If in reading this you share the same interests as mine check out my first-ever published book Extra Innings: The Diamond Thieves at www.bwgibson.net. If you like it, I would love to hear your thoughts on Goodreads.com.