Why is it so important for an insurance producer to have a target market? Basically, you need to know how to spend your marketing time, and having a target market helps you determine what to learn, what to read, what to write, where to go, what to say, who to meet, and how to get yourself referred. How’s that for a value proposition? Bottom line – having a target makes you much more focused (something producers are notoriously not) and much more referable.

You might think that everyone is your target market, that everyone needs what you offer in terms of protection plans, asset management, retirement, yada, yada, yada. That’s not really the case because everybody’s situation is different. Besides, you can’t market to everyone! In fact, if you’re looking to meet everyone, anyone, someone, you very often end up meeting no one – or it’s a long time before “no one” becomes “someone.”

In other words, if everyone is your target market then no one is your target market. And “no one” equates to “no business.”

Your target market is simply who you serve best and, therefore, want to serve most.

So if your target market represents where you do your best work, why on earth wouldn’t you focus on doing more of that kind of work? Is it because you don’t know who you should target? You don’t want to exclude anyone from becoming a prospect? You don’t know where to start? You don’t understand the benefits of having one? All of the above?

Target marketing is not a new concept, but it still creates a lot of confusion. It’s no wonder so many producers enter into a difficult business without having a target market. It’s like searching for the buried treasure without a treasure map – you need an X to mark the spot!

It is critical to have a target market, especially if you are just starting your practice or want to significantly grow your practice. I don’t think it’s the only way to grow your practice, but it’s one of the easiest and most effective ways, especially if you plan to network.

Here are some ways to find or create your target market.

Focus on an industry or profession in which you’re interested and passionate

Do what you love, and work with people who do something that you love. An advisor at one of my client firms, Mike, is a gym rat, a fitness nut. He is very focused and disciplined with his fitness regimen — but not so much with his prospecting regimen. Since I box and I’m into weights and fitness, Mike and I had a lot to talk about.

When we got together, I had the sense that that’s pretty much all he wanted to talk about, though. He was so excited talking about supplements, weights, boxing and fitness, I told him, “You’ve been an advisor for three years. I have to be honest with you, Mike — it seems like you hate what you do.”

He said, “I know my stuff, but I’m just not excited about it. You’re right.”

“What if your target market becomes people who work out?” I suggested. “Trainers, gym owners, the GNC franchises, the companies that make supplements and exercise equipment and athletes who walk those paths?”

He looked at me in awe and asked, “You can do that?”

So Mike did that, and his production soared. Make your vocation your vacation and work with people that do the things that you love – and you will love them, too.

Discover who needs what you do

Another way to determine your target market is to focus on an industry, profession, demographic, vertical, or market segment that needs what you want to do most.

So if you are passionate about long term care insurance, it’s evident that your target market needs to be senior communities, assisted-living communities, estate planning attorneys, CPAs, and folks who are looking to be responsible about planning for the future. Knowing who needs what you do makes it evident who your target is, and your target market can be better aligned with the product or service that you are most passionate about.

I know financial advisors who make a great living just focusing on long term care. They’re experts in it. It makes their networking quite easy because they know where they need to go; what they need to say and to whom; and what they need to know, read, write and report on. That’s the benefit of being a specialist!

Leverage past work experience

If you happen to have a background as a police officer, IT professional, restaurant manager, mortician (don’t laugh), whatever, why not use that knowledge and experience to build your own credibility and leverage a market in which you’re already familiar?

An advisor I work with has a niche market among funeral homes given his background as a mortician. He works with almost every facility in his state. He’s subjected to a lot of bad jokes, but given his experience, they know that he “gets them,” so they all refer him to one another. He also attends their conferences, trade shows, and other initiatives linked to that industry.

Find demographics you can identify with

Another way to go about finding your target market is to find a niche that represents people you can identify with now. So if you’re a brand-new advisor who recently graduated from college, you might want to target other young business owners or sales reps who are just starting out. This gives you the opportunity to become active with your college alumni association, young professionals groups, junior level professionals at some of the accounting and law firms in your area, etc.

Tap your favorite clients

If you have a book of business to work from, assess your clients and decide which ones are your favorites. It could be the nature of their business, their personal characteristics, or the type of work you’re doing with them. See if there’s a way to clone those clients into a target market. “How can I work with more firms like yours?” “How can I work with more people like you?” Hey, you might just get a referral!

Now, I’m not suggesting that you serve one market and one market only. You can have more than one market that you serve, but I wouldn’t have more than just a couple because it can become confusing and defeat the purpose. Also, establishing a niche won’t prevent you from working with other prospects who might present themselves. Prospects like to work with advisors who they consider specialists rather than generalists.

The idea is to go a mile deep rather than a mile wide. Remember, producers can have a hard time staying focused – so stay focused!

Michael Goldberg is a speaker, author, consultant and the founder of Building Blocks Consulting. www.NetworkingForProducers.com or www.TheBuildingBlockstoSuccess.com.