Traffic 101: Identifying Your Core Market – The Simple ‘Why’ Test

May 7, 2021 BY Jake Guthrie - Get free updates of new posts HERE

Most parents can attest to their children going through the ‘why’ phase, and it’s widely reported that this phase greatly contributes to a spike in knowledge and understanding (Woodhead, 2009). Kids begin to question everything, and in doing so, they learn a great deal more than had they not popped the ‘why’ question.

Picture these two scenarios, and it’s easy to see which child gained more from the experience:

Scenario 1

Dad: “we’re going to the shops, grab your coat and your shoes and let’s get in the car please”

Kid: “okay daddy”

Scenario 2

Dad: “we’re going to the shops, grab your coat and your shoes and let’s get in the car please”

Kid: “why are we going to the shops?”

Dad: “we’ve run out of groceries”

Kid: “why did we run out of groceries?”

And so on…

In scenario 2, the child clearly benefited more from the discussion as they were actively seeking more information, beyond simply saying “okay”, and businesses should operate no different.

A healthy amount of scepticism can be a good thing, and pays homage to the saying ‘believe nothing, question everything’. Confucius once wrote “the man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life”. Unfortunately, this seems to have become lost in translation overtime, and the older we get, somehow the less acceptable it becomes to question things, seeing this more as a weakness than a means of improving ones understanding. And I see this mentality all too often in businesses, and it becomes increasingly prevalent the more senior one rises in a company. That is, with a new title, comes the assumption of greater knowledge, and should one be ‘caught off guard’, they’ll likely lose respect amongst their peers (Lazega, 2001). It’s this dysfunctional embarrassment that often leads the person behind the wheel to steer the ship in the wrong direction.

But let’s bring this back to marketing. In this blog, I’ll use shaving as my example.

In the affiliate industry, the term ‘vertical’ gets thrown around a lot and stands as a means of identifying or categorising and grouping similar offers with a tag. For instance, with shaving, you may tag the vertical as something such as ‘body & health’. Verticals have their benefit, especially from a CRM perspective, but they’re dangerous if used inappropriately.

As a reference point, the vertical normally acts as the starting place in which affiliates can look at for traffic. That is, they may filter their affiliate platform to only show ‘health & body’ offers, as the assumption has already been made that this vertical is also the same their audience is looking at, i.e. you may own a body & health blog and therefore filter offers by this vertical. This approach, however, boycotts the opportunity to adequately vet their audience to look for the core market of the product / brand they’re promoting. Marketers and customers look through very different lenses, but it’s all too easy to forget this.

It’s said in business that there are only three ‘core markets’ – health, wealth and relationships (Brunson, 2015).







I know what you’re thinking – we’ve added the vertical as health, and there’s a core market as ‘health’ too; bingo, right?


Let’s bring this back to ‘the why’, and we’ll soon discover that the core market and the vertical are two very different things.  *Side note, that’s not to say that the core market and the vertical can’t be the same, but it’s important we apply our due diligence to every offer we are in need of traffic to.

Why 1 – Why do people buy razors?

Answer 1 – To shave, duh.

Why 2 – Why do people want to shave?

Answer 2 – To look good, or to feel good.

Why 3 – Why do people want to look good, or feel good?

When approaching the ‘why’ phase, you can imagine this as a funnel. At the top of the funnel, the answers are broad and vague. As we progress through the funnel, we’re weeding out the obvious and fine-combing the questions with laser-like responses.  The answers become increasingly specific, to the point where we can start brainstorming potential avenues of traffic.












So, why do people want to look or feel good?

  • Maybe your dream customer is looking to have the best shave of their lives before a big interview – potential market (wealth / relationship).
  • Maybe your dream customer is about to go on a first date, and they want to look their best – potential market (relationship).
  • Maybe your dream customer just lost their partner, and they just want to feel good about something – potential market (relationship).

Over and over, we see the ‘why’ keep coming back to relationships, over health. Does shaving make you healthier? No, of course not, but it’s similar enough to the supplement industry to be thrown in the same vertical bag, and that’s where the danger lies. Affiliates that don’t do the research are at risk of driving untargeted traffic to an offer that yields low results, for themselves and for the advertiser.

Once you identify your core market, you can start making smarter marketing decisions, decisions that will yield greater results for yourself and your advertiser.

How does this specifically help you as a publisher? Well, identifying your core market is like dangling a golden carrot in front of your audience. It provides you the means of throwing out the best possible hooks and display ads, ads you know will resonate with your audience. It’s up to you from there to split test which ‘carrot’ yields the best results, and from there, it’s plain sailing.

But don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis mode. This step shouldn’t take too long, so if you’re finding it difficult to tap into the core market, then why not reach out to one of the friendly folks at Monetise? We’re here to help with so much more than just setting up an offer and passing over an affiliate link.

And remember… it’s better to be a fool for a minute than a fool for life.

Written by Jake Guthrie