How well do you know your market? Like … really know them? Take a moment and imagine a typical person in your market right now. What is she or he doing? Watching TV – and if so, what’s on? Or is she sitting at her desk, trying to figure out how to pay her bills? And agonizing? Or is he looking out the window, wondering where his own child is right now – the one who just moved away from home. This is what I call micro market definition. It’s different from niche-ing, because you already know your niche, right? This is simply carving out a much more specific, detailed picture of the market you already know and love. And more importantly, it’s understanding their exact emotional frame of mind. Truly effective market definition goes far beyond the usual boring stats like age, marital status, geographic location and education. That’s all ‘old think’. This micro market definition captures the psyche of the person you’re selling to, and really digs into to their day to day situation. It describes their current highs and lows, and what the big needs and wants are that define their lives. And why is this type of market definition effective? Because when you really, really, really know your audience, you can design a website, a blog, and infoproducts that speak right to their heart. And so you can effectively solve their problems, deliver your work, and live your life’s purpose. So, yep, this kind of clarity is critical. To do this, you need to think empathetically. And you need to extend your imagination right into the zone of your market. For instance, if you decide your market is teens going through major life transitions (parental divorce, moving to a new state, life threatening illness in the family, etc.), I want you to really put yourself in the position of that young person. How exactly do they go through their day? What’s their high point? Their low point? Their mental health break? What song do they hope will come on the radio? What web sites do they hang out at, or how do they communicate with their friends? Terse, tense cell phone calls because they’re so busy? Frantic endless text messages? Long, chatty AIM (instant messenger) conversations? (Right here is an opportunity for non-traditional marketing message delivery.) But here’s the biggest question — what’s the big need that’s driving them? Is it just to put an end to their parents? Or are they focused on other ‘non-teenager’ issues? Are they suddenly getting a taste of grown up life, so maybe they’re gathering around spiritual websites, or religious affiliations. Or are they drawn to podcasts of world philosophers like the Dali Lama? Or dark teen age angst bands that play grunge? (Here, again, is another possible connection point you can make if you can figure out what sites they linger at.) See how effective this can be? If you knew, for instance, that your needy teens would be drawn to visit New Thought churches, then that’s a great place to position yourself as a speaker, writer, or blog commenter. Same goes for the blog of existential, angry pop bands. And it goes much further than that. All truly great marketing begins with empathy. As you really put yourself – like, really, totally and completely – in your people’s position, you extend yourself out of your own little shell. This in turn informs your mission with that critical extra piece – the extra inch that makes your market feel as if you truly understand them. Stop right now, no matter where you are, and write down ten critical things you need to really remember about your audience. Make sure you imagine your people in your mind (even ask them how you can help.) And bear in mind that helping them is your mission in life – it’s that important! By really stopping to think, define, and continue defining, you will give your business a tremendous gift: empathy. And did I mention that this process is never really finished? Markets grow and evolve just like our popular culture does. And so one needs to revisit their assumptions about their market annually if not more often. Think, feel, and imagine your audience. And then go create. That’s where the real joy lives in these businesses.