Running a successful business means taking care of many vital elements. Funding, product development, location, marketing plan … the list goes on and on. But of all these elements, do you know which is most important? Your customers!
Hold the most flamboyant business launch event. Build a team of the most experienced professionals in your industry. Develop the best product ever. The hard truth is, without people to pay for what you’re offering, you have no business.
In short, you need customers to survive.
It’s true that marketing is the only way to reach your potential customers. But trying to market your product or service to everyone is a sure recipe for failure.
Your product or service can only sell when you advertise directly to people who will benefit most from it and are willing to pay for it. Those are your target customers.
Now, who are the right customers for your product? And more importantly, how can you find them? Here are 7 sure-fire tips for figuring it all out.
1- Start with the problem — and those who are battling it
A smart way to figure out who is most likely to become your customer is to clearly define the problem that your product or service addresses.
For example, imagine you run a company that supplies raw fruits in huge quantities. Many manufacturing companies constantly need your products to make their own. And that’s the problem you’re helping such companies to solve.
By zeroing in on the exact problem your business addresses, digging deeper to figure out who commonly faces that problem becomes much easier. So, for a raw fruits supply business, the target customers include fruit juice manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, concentrate and flavour manufacturers, and even research institutes.
There will be times when you’ll be tempted to think that everyone needs your product or service. What you should do is remind yourself that you can’t appeal to everyone. Rather, consider narrowing your focus and tweaking your product to appeal to a smaller market.
2- Define your customer’s characteristics
After coming up with a list of potential customers, you need to sharpen your focus by outlining the specific characteristics of your ideal client. These characteristics don’t have to be personal ones like complexion, weight, etc. Even if your target customers are individuals, you can clearly describe them by their lifestyle, hobbies, geographical locations, income levels, and so on.
For example, for a cleaning service, the target customers could be career people who are too busy to clean their homes themselves, or elderly people who are too weak for such physically demanding activities. The business could also target corporate clients who want their offices kept constantly clean.
Similarly, that raw fruits supply company can narrow down their list of potential customers by certain descriptions such as the quantity of supplies required at a time or the frequency at which new supplies are requested. Using these two criteria, the company can decide whether they want to cater to high-volume or low-volume buyers, such as manufacturing companies who make at least four supply requests every month.
Listing the specific characteristics of your target customers helps you to accurately zero in on them and clearly differentiate your primary target customers from your icing-on-the-cake market.
3- Study your current customers carefully
If your business is running already, chances are you currently have a number of loyal customers. Digging deep into your existing customer base can help you to identify what your customers share in common, how they first came across your brand, why they favor your product or service over similar offers from the competition, how pleased they are after patronizing your business, and other valuable insights.
Even if you landed your existing customers through trial-and-error marketing, this step can help you understand which aspects of your marketing efforts were most effective and deserve more focus.
There are various ways to conduct an assessment of your current customers: visitor behavior on your website, one-on-one feedback requests, phone calls, social media interactions, and so on. Note, however, that the information you can obtain from these options varies in objectivity.
4- Conduct a market survey
A market survey can help you to see your target market beyond your existing customers. Your business can only grow when you’re always attracting new customers while retaining existing ones.
One of the smartest steps to convert potential customers is to understand their perception of your product or service. And that’s where a market survey comes in useful.
Depending how you craft your survey, it can provide you with hard facts, provided you question objectively. Here are some examples of important and clear-cut survey questions that can help you get the vital information you need.
For potential clients:
- Have you heard about our product/service?
- Do you know what problem our product/service addresses?
- How are you presently solving the problem that our product/service addresses?
- Have you considered trying our product/service?
- If so, why did you pick us? If not, what stopped you from trying us?
- Who do you think would benefit from product/service the most?
For existing clients:
- How did you discover our product/service?
- How would you feel if you could no longer use the product/service?
- What main benefit have you enjoyed by using the product/service?
- Have you recommended the product/service to anyone?
- If not, why not?
- Do you think our product/service is worth more or less than its actual cost?
- How can we improve our product/service to better meet your needs?
By collecting opinions through market surveys, you’ll be able to understand what changes to make to your company or product in order to scale up quickly.
5- Understand the buyer vs. consumer difference
It’s not enough to know the kind of customer who needs your product or service. Sometimes, those buying your product are not the same people who eventually benefit from it.
For example, if your business sells wheelchairs, it’s intuitive to think that your customers are people who cannot walk on their own. But most of the time, that’s wrong. Your real customers are usually the carers: children who buy wheelchairs for their aged parents, or guardians of disabled people.
And here’s another example — a clearer one: Let’s assume you run a company that manufactures baby food. It goes without saying that the consumers of your products are babies. But can those babies buy your products themselves? No. Your customers are parents or guardians.
The smart marketing move is to direct your advertising campaigns at the real buyers, who might not necessarily be the consumers.
6- Spy on your competition
One of the smartest ways to quickly identify your target customer is to keep track of what the competition is doing. Figure out who is buying from the competition and how your competitors reach out to them.
If their marketing campaigns are targeted at a specific set of customers, chances are there’s a huge opportunity in that section of the market.
So, spy on your closest competitors’ websites, social media platforms, sales brochures, marketing campaigns, and other sources of reliable information to figure out their customer base. This is rarely as easy as it sounds because your competitors are jealously guarding their business secrets, but if you invest the required resources, you can collect valuable information.
7- Get additional insights from your network
Sometimes, you can get brutally honest and insightful reviews of your product or service by tapping into your network of business colleagues, mentors, and founders. Ask them to thoroughly assess your product. You can even ask them to try it out for several days or weeks.
Then ask them straightforward questions such as, “Would you use this product? Do you have a need for this service? Do you know anyone who would use it? Where do you think I can find them?
They might surprise you by suggesting target markets that you never thought of, as well as innovative strategies to reach those markets.
To market your business effectively, you first need to understand exactly who your target customer is. With this understanding, you can create a product or service that is better suited to their needs. And you’ll be able to create promotional copy that captures their interest and compels them to patronize your business.
By implementing the tips above, you can more deeply understand those customers who are most likely to buy your product or service. And ultimately, you’ll be able to grow your business with the minimum possible advertising costs.
Sawim is working to provide integrated marketing solutions
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