Defining Your Ecommerce Target Market and Brand Positioning

Joel Gerschman

This video is from our eCommerce growth engine course on how to drive more traffic conversions and profit from your eCommerce business. To access the full course, click here.

Hi and welcome to module two strategic direction. Now you’ve set some ambitious but realistic growth goals for your business, but how will you achieve those goals? Many people make a mistake here. They think that growth is about diving in and implementing a range of practical strategies like traffic generation strategies and optimizing your website for better conversions and so on. Well, I’ve got news for you. If that’s all you do, don’t be surprised if you see limited results.

Now don’t get me wrong. You obviously need to dive in and implement practical strategies. And in fact, we’ll be spending a significant amount of time exploring exactly how to do that effectively. But before you can begin implementing specific tactics in your business, you need to be clear on your overall business strategy first. And that’s the purpose of this module.

Defining Your Target Market and Positioning

Many business owners begin marketing without really thinking about their underlying business strategy.

  • Who is your target market?
  • What are their unique driving needs?
  • How will you meet those needs better than the competition?
  • What does your brand stand for?

These are foundational strategic questions. And though it’s much easier to ignore this strategic step. It’s also a recipe for limited results.

Take the classic case of Michael Dell, founder of Dell computers. As a teenager, he famously became the most successful paper delivery boy in Chicago’s history.

How? His strategy was simple but powerful. Rather than take a random door-to-door approach – which had a 10% success rate at best – he looked up all the newlywed couples in the births, deaths and marriages register and ONLY visited their houses.

His success rate was astronomical because many of them had just moved into a new home. And that’s exactly the kind of person who’s in the market for a newspaper subscription.

He didn’t start with a practical tactic like knocking on doors. He started with a deliberate, well-considered business strategy. He identified who his target market was and only then did he begin implementation.

If you want to achieve real growth, you’ll also need to start by defining your overall business strategy. It’s what we call your strategic direction. Let’s begin by focusing on your target market. This is your first step in defining your strategic direction. You need to get crystal clear on your target market – sometimes called your niche.

Your target market is the intersection between who you serve (your customers), what you offer them (your products or services), and where you’ll offer it (your geographic scope). Let’s explore each of these together.

Getting clear on your target market and brand positioning begins with specific groups of customers

Let’s start with your customers. They’re the individuals or businesses you’d like to buy or use your services. And it’s no secret that your customers are the heart and soul of your business. Without them, you don’t have a business. This is why it’s the first place to start when defining your target market or your niche.

Unfortunately, many business owners make a crucial mistake here. They consider the entire world or a large part of it as a potential customer. And, and whilst it’s true, in theory, anyone could become a customer in practice. It’s a dangerous perspective.


Because if you are not focused on a clearly defined group of customers, it often leads to a scattergun approach to attracting customers and meeting their needs. And scatter gun approaches typically produce scatter gun outcomes. To acquire and keep customers you need to produce products or services that meet their needs since different kinds of customers have different needs. It’s very difficult for a business to meet everyone’s needs at the same time. Trying to be everything to everyone is a bit like a recipe for mediocrity.

On the other hand, if you define a specific group of customers who share certain demographic characteristics – like age, gender, social status jobs, etc – as well as psychological characteristics like needs, desires, fears, and attitudes, then you can direct your precious energy and resources towards reaching those customers and genuinely meeting those needs in ways that others can’t.

Think of it as going narrow and deep, a bit like a laser beam rather than broad and shallow. And the primary customer group that you decide to focus on as a result of that is called your target market. While other markets become what we might call your secondary or flanker markets.

Using Customer Avatars to Define Your Target Market

So as an example, let’s say you are starting an online art store, with expensive, unique pieces. Then people under 18 with little disposable income living at home with their parents probably won’t be a lucrative target market. On the other hand, wealthy retired, or semi-retired baby boomers who live in affluent neighbourhoods and have a taste for aesthetics, might well be a lucrative market. And a secondary or flanker market might be younger, 30 to 40-year-old, high-flying executives who want to portray an image of success and culture to the world. Remember the example of Michael Dell, he only focused on newlyweds.

Just to be clear, targeting a specific custom group doesn’t mean you have to stop people who don’t fit your criteria from buying from you. It simply allows you to focus your marketing dollars and brand message on a specific market that is more likely to buy from you than other markets and is more likely to be lucrative for you. And as a result, it’s a much more affordable, efficient, and effective way to reach potential customers and generate business.

Product/Service-Market Fit

The second element of your target market or niche is your product or service offering and the various customer groups that you might serve.

They don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in relation to the product or services you offer, which is why you can’t identify your customers without simultaneously thinking about your product or service offerings. Certain kinds of customers will like certain kinds of products or services. So to accurately define your niche, you’ll need to think deeply about which product or services you’d like to offer the various customer groups, and then select what we call the customer product combinations that are most likely to lead to profitable growth.

Narrowing Down Your Geographic Scope

Finally, your niche can be further segmented by the geographic location of your customers. Let’s say, for example, you’ve identified a certain lucrative customer group, say, middle-aged middle-class women,? And let’s say they might buy a certain lucrative service in which you specialize say your new, personal fitness training app. Well, wonderful. That’s great. But you still have a strategic decision to make. Where geographically would you like to focus your energies in a particular set of suburbs across town, interstate other countries globally? That’s a critical strategic choice.

Access the Full Ecommerce Growth Engine Course for Free

I really hope you enjoyed this training video. If you did, and you’d like to access the full eCommerce growth engine course click here.

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