Is Your Target Market A Tribe?

How do you define your target market?

In my work with advisors, this is one of the more challenging questions. It is a rare advisor who can think past the clichés. Too many of us get hung up on the obvious answers. Profession, demographic, club membership, social situation.

Now, obvious can be great. If you have specialized knowledge and a good network in one of these obvious markets, you can have a powerful marketing program. The big problem with the obvious answers, of course, is that there are not enough of them to go around. If your target market is “doctors” you have an army of advisors competing directly with you, and will have a difficult time differentiating yourself from most of them.

One thing I have observed about successful advisors with a loyal, dedicated clients, clients who provide referrals, is that many of those clients have something in common. It may not be profession, it may not be net worth, it may not be membership in some fraternal or social organization, but it’s there. They have a good relationship with the advisor, and when they get together they like each other as well.

Seth Godin, who has written brilliant work on marketing, refers to “Tribes.” In a Wired magazine interview, he refers to a leader’s or marketer’s role in terms of creating and building a tribe. He describes the process as “connecting like-minded people and taking them to a place they want to go.” I will add one more aspect for our discussion – taking that group to where they want to go the way they want to get there.

Your target market may not be easy to define in terms of profession, age, family status, membership in a religious or fraternal organization. And that’s okay. If you can define where a group of people want to go (which, in our profession should be easy), in the way they want to get there, you will have a good start on how to build your tribe. For many advisors, your tribe may be defined by your style of getting them there. The way you coach people toward their goals, the way you help them organize their financial lives, your particular approach to investment management, may do more to define your target market then the clients’ professions or net worth.

Godin points out if you do enough for the tribe, it will grow. And what you can do for the tribe is to connect people with an issue and with each other. What defines your tribe? What are you doing to lead them? Clarify those non-obvious connections, and you may have a powerful idea to drive your marketing plan.


1 Comment

  1. Mark ColganDecember 28, 2010

    Great blog. Advisors often tell me they are afraid to specialize in working with a niche BUT there are huge advantages. Sure, you might scare some people off but they are the folks that probably would not have made a good fit.


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