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Take Aim

Shari StormComment

Target markets have been the holy grail since the dawn of advertising. Every campaign, every ad, every message starts with the question, ‘who is your company trying to attract as a customer?’ 

As credit unions, we like to make our target markets as big and encompassing as possible. We love the idea of wrapping our loving arms around everyone who might live, work or worship in our state.  

However, a smart target market can increase growth and reduce expenses.

They key to success with a target market is to start with the right one.  A smart target market will drive your credit union’s strategy.

Here are three things to look for when determining what your credit union’s target market will be. A good target market has these three attributes.

1. Strong Sense of Affiliation

When looking for a target segment, you want to be sure that your audience identifies with that segment. This might sound funny but often people do not perceive themselves as you perceive them. For example, if you are targeting affluent people, it is difficult to know with certainly who considers themselves rich. You’ll always have some folks with nothing in the bank who think they are players and you’ll have just as many with high networths that don’t believe they can afford luxury items. I’ve seen plenty of people training to run a half marathon who do not consider themselves runners. A good target market is made up of people who know with certainty that they are part of that group.

2. A certain degree of homogeneity

A target market has strength if you can predict with some reasonableness how that group will react to a product or message. It is easier to make those predictions if the group thinks and acts similarly.  I often argue that the target market of a generation – say millennials -  lacks the needed homogeneity to be predictable. A 19 year-old Hispanic boy from Philadelphia is probably a bit different than a 14 year-old Caucasian girl from Wenatchee yet many companies lump all Gen Y’s together. 

3. Influence

Influence is the most important attribute of a target market. Are the people you are targeting the people who make the financial decisions? Do they have influence over other people’s spending decisions? If the answer is no, you are going to have a hard time achieving success with that market. Your target market must comprise those people who are the decision makers in their family, business or community.

A good segmenting strategy can be the difference between getting by and thriving.

Learn more about segment marketing through MAC’s webinar on March 4, 2015.


Shari Storm speaks around the country on a number of topics. Her book, Motherhood is the New MBA: Using Your Parenting Skills to be a Better Boss has been published in three languages: American, Canadian and Mandarin. It has been featured in Time, Redbook and Costco Connection. You can learn more about Shari at