Too many small businesses picture their target market to be everyone in their local proximity. This fallacy can lead to loss of focus, and potentially, a loss of business.
A good word in marketing is empathy, which is defined as the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. Marketers need to be empathetic in order to cultivate a following of people who find value in your products and services.
Below I offer some insights to help you discover your ideal customer and overall target market.
Starting with the Smallest Market PossibleDon’t get hung up only focusing on one customer, or one message. When starting out, there’s little to hang your hat on. The key is to not spend time lost in the dark. Highlighting one aspect that makes your company valuable and then communicating that to your target market will get the ball rolling in building an audience.
Discover Why You’re ValuableYour business plan will be successful only if the market cares about it. Defining why you’re valuable to a market and testing whether the hypothesis holds up is important in moving forward. Moving forward in business is impossible when the hypotheses don’t test well in the lab.
Desire FeedbackSmall businesses and start-ups don’t have the capabilities that a thriving corporation has where they can learn a lot each day from customer interaction. Formulating and testing theories on the fly is the only option available in the early stages of implementing a business plan.
Setting up meetings with prospects who fall within your smallest market group is a good way to start finding out what’s working and what’s not. It can be hard to find the prospects, so joining industry or trade groups containing your target market is a safe start.
Offering free samples and beta test relationships to individuals willing to provide feedback is also helpful. Your business will only start to evolve when you get the message and focus out to the target you’re intending to reach.
Make a Customer SketchAfter all these plans and tests, you need to identify every last detail of your customer. Most of the information attained will not be commonly understood, and thus needs to be gathered through additional research in heavy behavioral places such as social media.
Thorough research in the social media platforms will help kick start your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and allow you to start building custom profiles. There are several CRM platforms to assist you in your customer sketch.
Worketc, Batchbook, Nimble, Highrise and Cubesocial all provide excellent CRM tools, collecting as much customer data in one place as currently possible. These tools will help you build custom profiles with more information than you could ever capture on your own.
Never Stop EvolvingPerhaps the most important step to learn is that your business will always undergo changes to the strategy. When you discover your ideal customer you should look back at your basic business model and overall strategy. If you want to have a great business model, it needs to be customer-influenced, even customer-forced. It’s wise to think about how your perfect client will affect your offerings, revenue streams, pricing and ways of distribution.
Think of finding your market as a pivotal line in a crossword puzzle; it should help you figure out more lines to the puzzle, or strategies to the model. Game plan how you can reach your target market, potential partners and the resources you either need or have in order to reach the target market effectively.
You’re never done evolving if you want to be successful. Businesses learn and grow; their models change shape. The on-going process of experimentation and discovery is equally important to what you’re discovering.