Posted: Fri 24th Jun 2022
When you begin to market what your small business is selling, trying to target everyone out there just isn't realistic. Early on, especially, you should aim your product or service at a relatively small group of people. This group is what we call your target audience.
You can't have a proper marketing strategy unless you know your ideal audience. In this blog, we set out some simple steps you can follow to identify your small business's target customers.
Ask yourself: what's your product or service offering? Understanding the customer need you're meeting is the starting point when defining who you're targeting. Also, think about the benefits you're bringing your customers and the needs you're covering.
Once you've identified your customers' needs, consider whether your idea is meeting them – along with the benefits your idea will bring. Then, you can start to identify the people who might be interested.
To get to the heart of the matter, you need to divide your audience into segments. These segments will be based on certain criteria, such as:
level of education
This is important if, for example, your product or service is for a specific age group or people living in a particular location.
You can use the LinkedIn Ads segmentation tool if you're in a business-to-business (B2B) market. This will help you to get your message across to the right people at the right time. As a result, your targeting will be more effective and efficient.
Who are your competitors aiming to reach? Who are their customers? Why have they chosen these customers? Examining your competitors is a perfect place to start. It will help you to work out who you should be addressing.
If your competitors' marketing is aimed at a specific set of customers, they've likely spotted an opportunity to sell a product or service and are already taking advantage.
However, you might also notice that they're neglecting a specific area of the market. That's a niche you can tap into. Moreover, your research could reveal particular areas of your industry or customers to address.
You need essential information about your specific market. Try to determine where problems, worries, concerns or questions lie. What are customers missing? What do they need? Your answers will give you the inspiration to decide how your product or service can fill these gaps.
Identify what your specific customers are consuming and how much money they're spending on products and services. This information is essential.
You'll be able to conclude what type of product or service you need to offer, how often you need to provide it, and the price to set. Don't forget you can always take a look at what your competitors are doing in this respect.
How do your specific customers see the world around them? How do they see themselves? By identifying what they find interesting, fun, boring or frustrating, you'll have powerful information to hand. You can use this as a talking point on social media or even in person.
As well as what your customers like and dislike, what do they consider necessary? The things they enjoy might include:
safety and security
standing out from the crowd
…and so on.
How does your product or service fit in with these values?
Finally, find out what your customers do in their free time (on the weekends or after work) and what their interests are. Try to gain information about what they do, where they go on holiday, etc. Ask yourself what they're passionate about. Do you share any of these interests or passions?
How can you find your real customers? By this, we mean not only in a face-to-face context but also online. For example, what kind of websites do they visit? What social networks do they use? This is important to know to find your customers and connect with them both online and in person.
After all the groundwork you've done to examine your specific customers, it's time to ask yourself some more key questions:
What are you offering your potential customers?
What sets you apart?
Most of all, what makes you unique?
Why would a customer choose you over the competition?
How do you get the message across that your product or service is 'the best'?
Now, you've identified your key customers – your 'target audience' – it's time to use this information to shape not only your product or service, but your marketing plan as well.
Before addressing your specific customers, it's important to now make this group even smaller, refining it into a unique sector known as your core target audience. Your core target audience or customers are a more specific group of people who'll be even more receptive to your product or service.
Initially, focus your communication on this smaller group. They'll be your very first customers and the first to test – and validate – your product or service.
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