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Identifying Your Target Market - The “Hollywood” Approach

Many years ago, when I was writing the business plan for my first business, I was faced

with the challenge of identifying or defining my company’s target market. My first conclusion

was probably fairly typical: my target market was “everyone”. Thankfully, I had colleagues and

mentors who convinced me that such was not a target at all, and that I definitely needed more

focus. While I did eventually refine my marketing focus, I did not have any kind of systematic

process for doing this.

Here is one suggested approach: Imagine that you are a movie producer, who has been

asked to write a screen-play, as well as direct and produce the movie. The climax of the plot is

when your protagonist goes to the fictitious company [in real life, your company], and purchases

that company’s product or service. You have identified the following steps to meeting this


  1. You will first create the character that will be the protagonist of the story.

  2. Next, you will outline the plot that brings the protagonist to the scene in which the purchase is made.

  3. The next step is describing the kind of actor to be cast in this leading role, and providing that description to the Casting Director.

  4. Finally, you are charged with writing the movie synopsis for Variety magazine.

Here is an example of this process:

  1. Our protagonist is the tin woodman [in the story of ‘The Wizard of Oz’, told from the perspective of the Tin Man].

  2. Plot outline: Rusty [the tin woodman] grew up in the forest outside of the town of Munchkinland. He followed in his father’s footsteps, and became a professional lumberjack. One day, he was out in the forest cutting wood, when a storm blew in unexpectedly. The sudden downpour drenched Rusty. Before he had a chance to seek shelter and dry out, he began to rust in place. Not wanting to be dependent on a brash little girl with a yappy dog to free him from impending paralysis, he hastily made his way to Marvel’s Hardware Store, and purchased a can of Gale’s Magic Penetrating Oil [your real-life product]. Although Gale’s Oil kept him limber and supple on that day, a week later he was not so fortunate.

  3. Notes to Casting Director: We are looking for a sturdy, resourceful-looking man for this role. He needs to be strong enough to carry off the role of a wood-cutter, but sensitive enough to actually cry when the brash little girl with a yappy dog leaves him. He is not wealthy, but has the resources to pay $8.95 for a can of oil. He is good with his hands.

  4. Movie synopsis: “This is the story of man versus machine - both in the same body. It is the tale of how intelligent, powerful molecules in a magic elixir [your product] saved a man from paralysis and a horrible and ignominious demise. If you have a heart . . . you must see this film!”

Now if this approach to identifying your target market seems foolish, or even silly, consider the

underlying premises:

  1. Marketing is 50% inspiration and 50% perspiration.

  2. If you want to capture the imagination of your potential customers, you have to use your own.

  3. The emphasis here is to get you to shift your focus from your actual product or service itself, and onto the type of person who would actually need it.

If you see value in this approach, but are not sure how to actually use it, we can help.

That’s what we do!

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