The tendency of many companies, big or small, is to be “all things to all people”. They too often target everyone who is willing to listen or could even be remotely interested in their offer. But going too broad can not only water down your message, but it can also be detrimental to your business growth. This can be explained using the classroom template. A class with ten students and one teacher will be more productive compared to one with 50 students and a teacher.

A teacher can focus on all the students on an individual level if the class has a limited number of students (say 10), thus paying more attention to a student’s needs. Whereas a classroom with 50 students, will be disordered, and the information is more likely to bounce off the classroom walls due to congested, attention-sapping environment.
The relationship between a target market and a business is just like the class of students and teacher relationship. In business, you can’t be everything to everyone and even if this sounds contradictory because you want to dominate your niche, but focusing on a particular market will give you best results and increase sales. You will start with educating people about your brand and eventually you can build on that success.

Does It Work?

According to a study conducted by the London Institute of Education, students in large classes find it difficult to concentrate and have little interaction with the teacher. This is because, in a larger class, teachers spend most of their time controlling and disciplining the students whereas it is effortless to disseminate information to a smaller class with comparatively few students.

So also, as a business enterprise, selling your products or services to a specific market is beneficial to your growth. But that doesn’t mean you are decreasing the number of potential customers or services you can offer in the long run. Instead, you are working on increasing the “right” customers and quality of service.

If you look at two of the world’s leading retailers who are now “everything to everyone”, they began their journey by targeting a specific market to develop and maintain a strong customer base:


They started with focusing on selling to the rural areas where there was a scarcity of options for cheap goods. They worked on building the gap in the market and slowly built their empire with a net income of $14.69 billion in 2015. If they had jumped on the global bandwagon trying to sell their brand to the world, it could have resulted in an expensive blow to their pride.


Before selling everything from Blu-Ray to bed linen, Amazon was famous for being a successful bookseller. The Seattle-based corporation initially maintained a simple and narrow focus before becoming the household name it is today with a revenue of $107 billion in 2015.

Before being the household name that it is now with revenue of $107 billion in 2015, Amazon initially maintained a simple and narrow focus on becoming a successful bookseller. Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, mentioned the efficacy of starting in such a way by saying, “There’s nothing about our model that can’t be copied over time. But you know, McDonald’s got copied. And it still built a huge, multibillion-dollar company.”

How Do You Make It Work?

It all depends on commitment, loyalty and exclusivity for your business. You need to start with identifying a specific market and commit yourself to it,
Here are the three steps that will help you narrow your target market –

Don’t Be Afraid to Exclude

It sure sounds intimidating to exclude an audience, especially if you are a new business owner. The thought of loosing potential customers will make you panic. But you have muster up the courage to pick a specific market and then focus exclusively on that. It will benefit you in the long run.

For Greg Head, the Founder and CEO of strategy marketing firm, New Avenue, “If you’re selling everything, you mean nothing in the marketplace. Exclusion is fundamental to target markets.” According to Tammy Lenski, an expert in business mediation, “The big danger is that without a target market, it’s like standing in a park shouting in the wind. When you have a target market, it’s like standing in a park and talking to a specific group of people.” You are more likely to get noticed if you are speaking to a certain demographic or market section rather than shouting around hopelessly to everyone.

Example: A marketing company with a vast customer base – from assisting educational institutions to enrol more students to helping corporate firms acquire new clients – starts marketing his brand as, “Effective marketing for any industry.” No doubt it sounds remarkable; it is not going to help the brand in any way since it is not speaking to anyone at all managing to only get momentary glances from passersby.

Instead, the brand should focus on universities only so it has just one ideal buyer: a university’s CMO. This creates an opportunity to be more specific to your target customer and promote what your company is good at doing – digital marketing. So you now transform your message to “Increasing universities’ ROI through effective digital marketing.”

Targeting a specific market would make you more noticeable. A university’s CMO would now see you as one of the leading companies to work with so they can optimise their website for search engines. Also, you save a lot of time and money by only networking with a definite buyer.

2. Prioritize Your Target Audience

Once you have narrowed down your market, now is the time to put that market at the forefront of everything you do.

Work on your content strategy to provide solutions to your consumer’s problems. Speak to the narrowed market specifically and use more of “you” or “your” instead of “everyone” or “everything”. Work on creating a great customer experience. If you are targeting young customers, make your business digital-friendly or mobile friendly so they can easily access your services from their cell phones. Oracle Media reports that 48% of UK millennials were unlikely to use a company’s service again if it delivers a poor app experience (54% globally).

Also, committing yourself to your ideal market means, you can now let your customers participate in business matters. They will feel a sense of involvement making them loyal to your brand.

3. Use Customers to Get More Customers

Always remember that the number of customers that you target is expandable. A loyal customer base will help you gain more customers and to make this happen, you should:

Ask for reviews: Ask your customers to review your products and services on Yelp or Google. This feedback can help in attracting new customers.


A referral campaign will help you get new business when your followers refer your business to someone. You can also offer discounted price for your products or services. When you something special for your customers, they will reciprocate.

Final Thought

Market segmentation may seem like a frightening option at the beginning but targeting a specific market will give you a better opportunity to successfully reach out to more customers who are interested in your offerings.

The “classroom size” concept – teach some, not all – will help you reach your full potential at the end.

Sahaj Kothari
Founder of
Award winning author | Serial entrepreneur | Business coach