Recently, I’ve been noticing a pattern among business owners when I ask them about their target market.
They don’t know their target market.
There are two ways that show that they don’t know their target market:
- They have never spent time deciding who they want to reach with their product or service.
- They have decided who to reach, but yet haven’t conducted market research to acquaint themselves with their target market.
Many businesses think they can appeal to everyone. I have had this conversation with several business owners. It goes something like this:
Me: “Who is your target market?”
Business owner: “Our solution could work for anyone, really. We’re interested in any business that brings in at least $50MM in revenue.”
Choosing a target market is not easy. Most business owners feel that once they choose a specific type of customer to reach, then it automatically excludes everyone else. They’re afraid of leaving money on the table.
A home repairman, for instance, may think any homeowner would make a fine customer. But what about niching your service? Instead of saying you’re a home repairman, why not say your specialty is working on homes built before 1970? Then you have a niche that allows you to become very specific with your branding, your market research, and development of your services. It requires a different type of preparation, perhaps, but well worth it.
For instance, as a home repairman for homes built before 1970, you can then scour the internet and bookstores for common home repairs for older homes. You can research which products on the market would be best for such repairs. You can also search your local area for homes that fit your niche and conduct a very targeted direct mail campaign.
Once you decide who your customer is, marketing becomes so much easier!
If you already know who you want to reach, you need to then find out what they want.
Notice I didn’t say what they needed, but what they want. They may need a new vacuum cleaner, but what they really want is the security of knowing their house is free from allergens. They may need to purchase a car, but what they really want is the feeling of belonging to an elite group of customers who can afford a luxurious ride.
Think of it this way. People want:
- Acceptance (A sense of belonging)
If you look at some of the most successful brands, you’ll start to notice that they focus on hitting those needs. Apple has rabid fans because Apple learned how to make the fans feel like the coolest kid on the block. Michelin Tires succeeded because they focused on keeping the driver secure on a slippery road. Lexus cars are hot because it proves a person has reached a level of success when they can afford one.
Market research doesn’t need to be intimidating. You can find out what your target market wants by doing one very simple thing: Ask them.
You can send questionnaires, but what I recommend is actually asking them in person. Offer an incentive for people to sit down and talk with you or one of your employees. Host an informative presentation and then pay attention to the questions people ask. Ask the audience if they’d be interested in a certain service or feature in a product. Continue to ask and discover what your customer wants.
After you receive enough feedback, you can use one of the “wants” listed above and wrap it around whatever you may be offering. Presentations are a great way to learn more about your customer. And even if you think you’re too busy to give a presentation (Or just hate the thought of public speaking.), you can still employ a powerful technique that Michelin used: Listen to what your customers are already saying.
Take the time to develop your own understanding of your target market and you’ll find it easier and quicker to give them what they want.