DMAIC: The Secret to Understanding your Target Audience


Guest post by Ryan Sauer

Note from Matt: I get a lot of guest post offers for this blog, but most are blatant attempts to get back-links. When I saw what Ryan had written, I knew it was better, and different. Thanks Ryan!

The secret to understanding your target audience can be found by using a specific method known as the Six Sigma process. Six Sigma, which was developed in the early 1980s by Motorola, is both a process and a philosophy used by many different businesses and industries. With it, an organization can not only discover defects in their business processes but also manage them with an emphasis on understanding where measurable improvements may be found.

Without getting too mathematical, Sigma is actually a term used in statistics and it measures what’s known as standard deviation. When Six Sigma is reached, it means that there are only 3.4 defects per each million opportunities.

So how can this methodology help companies like Motorola and General Electric increase the gap between competitors? Six Sigma assists companies in identifying hidden wastes and costs, most notably in targeting the wrong audience and/or using inefficient production models. All of this can also improve customer satisfaction and is accomplished through a 5 step process improvement approach known as DMAIC.

What is DMAIC?
DMAIC is an acronym which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. In using the DMAIC approach, a business must first define the problem or defect that needs to be addressed. Next, a project team must be formed and given the task of solving the problem.

The project team must then measure data that will accurately describe how the current process is working. This data will be used to develop initial ideas as to what may be causing the problem.

Analyzing the data and testing the original theories helps the team identify the root cause of the problem. Once the root cause has been determined it can be removed from the process and improvements can be developed and implemented.

And finally, the team creates new controls that will prevent the original problem from reoccurring, allowing the current improvements to hold their course.

How DMAIC can help you understand your target market. 
This same methodology can be used to drill down and find your ideal consumer. You will want to first collect data to analyze in order to figure out who is buying from you, so make a list of characteristics and interests your customers share.

The next step in your information gathering phase is to look at your competitors and figure out who buys from them. Instead of going after these same consumers, look for gaps in the marketplace that you could fill instead. Finding an untapped niche will typically be more profitable.

Next, write out a list of each feature of your product or service and next to each of these, list the benefits they provide as well as the benefits of those benefits. For example, a treadmill manufacturer offers machines that will improve a person’s health. The improvements in health allow a person to be more active and get involved in their children’s lives. So really, the benefit of owning a treadmill is to have more energy and be able to interact and connect with your kids.

Once you have your benefits listed, create a separate list of people who have a need that your benefits fulfill and who most likely will buy it. Make sure to consider things such as their age, gender, education level and income level, marital status and occupation. Then, think of certain characteristics such as attitudes, hobbies, values, lifestyle and behavior.

Once you know exactly who your target market is, what features appeal to them the most, and what their lifestyle is, determine what media outlet they can be reached through. Do they read newspapers or get their information online? Would they respond better to direct mail marketing or email marketing? The more information you gather about your market, the better able you’ll be to get your message in front of them and the more effective that message will be.

In business, knowing who to target is one of the most critical factors in your success. Likewise, knowing your ideal consumer base will help you to more tightly focus your marketing strategies and attain a greater return on your marketing investment.

Ryan Sauer is a marketing enthusiast, and writes on career advancement topics such as project management and six sigma certification. He is a Social Media Award Winner for the 2012 Google Online Marketing Challenge. Follow him on Twitter