Figuring out your target audience takes time and research. Maybe you have been in a particular industry long enough to know who buys your products and who does not. If so, it may not take you as long to figure out who your customer is. However, sometimes you are wrong about who your customer is and why. I read a story as I was researching for marketing experts about a wine company who thought their customer was the end user consumer. In some ways that was true. However, as they started to really investigate who buys from them, it was the retailers. Getting their wines in particular stores and restaurants was the goal. Therefore, they realized that their marketing efforts not as effective as they needed to be because they were marketing to the wrong customers.
Who are you and what do you do?
So you have to ask yourself, are you marketing to the right people? If you have not done so, you need to segment your bookkeeping to track your customers. If you are a retail store, this may be a little more difficult, but is possible. You may have to start with who comes through the door. Do you ever wonder why stores ask for your zip code as you check out? That is because they want to know where their customers are coming from. Who are they?
This process can take a lot of time to figure out. The longer you work on this the more that you will learn about your customer base. Start wide and then narrow it down. Your first answer may be “people with money” but that means a lot of things with a lot of people. You need to be able to describe the person that you want to work with. You should focus on data that defines who your core market is and data that fleshes out the core market.
Some may feel that you need to know what makes the customer tick and when and why they do something. That is true in some sense. You need to understand buying habits but even if you do not, it does not mean that you cannot get a general description of what is needed. Large companies spend a lot of money gathering this type of data. There are a lot of online data sites that you can buy information about demographics. The more specific you need it to be the more expensive it will be.
Create Focus Groups!
Focus groups are a great way to gauge what your customers may or may not be interested in. This does not have to be very expensive. Have a “get together” with a few customers. Feed them or give them gift cards to your store or somewhere else and ask their opinions. You will need to remove yourself from the process because people tend to be more honest when the subject of the conversation is not in the room.
You need understand the problems that your solve or the experience you create. Sometimes, you think there is a certain problem that exists but through surveying your customers you realize the problem they perceive is different. Sometimes, they do not even know that there is a problem. Are you creating something new and unique that the customer has never even considered before?
Who will gain from the value in your offer? Who will find these problems most troublesome; who will find the experience most rewarding? Who will have the most to lose by not dealing with these issues? From there you can start segmenting. Yes, you want to reach a wide audience. But if you are small you cannot reach everyone right away. Therefore, you have to consider who you can reach right now and how you can grow from there. The issue here is not biting off more than you can chew.
Next, you have to look internally. Is your company capable of handling this clientele? Everyone wants to deal with people who have money, however people who have money may not want to deal with you. So then you have to ask yourself, do I have what my target audience wants? If not, you need to rethink your strategy and re-brand.
Shahara Wright is an experienced and highly sought after business law attorney and business strategist. She is the author of From Entrepreneur to CEO and host of the CEO Collaboration Circle. Shahara founded The CEO Effect, LLC to work with small business owners who want to implement strategy to build capacity.
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