Getting customers through the door starts with identifying your typical customer. Few companies have the resources to include everyone in their target market. It simply is not feasible. Successful companies, however, have determined their specific target market and utilized their financial resources to attract those customers. If your company is in the infantile stages, you will be wise to determine your target market before launching your business. Cast a marketing net that is too wide and you might miss everyone altogether, and not to mention, waste your precious dollars.
Determining your target market is not as difficult as it may sound. You can start with identifying your typical customer. If you are a retail establishment, whom are your clothes geared for? Do your products best meet the needs of business professionals or the athletic and fitness oriented? Do you cater to children or adults? Men or women? All of these questions need to be answered so you can determine your typical client, which will in turn determine your marketing strategy.
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” ~ Peter F. Drucker
Many small businesses operate within a specific niche market, which is simply a narrow or specialized market. Niche businesses have the opportunity to target only those customers who may be interested in their products. By doing so, these businesses are able to maximize the results of their marketing without overspending.
Some examples of successful niche businesses include:
- Lehman’s: Lehman’s is an Ohio company that began in 1955 by selling nonelectrical tools and appliances to the local Amish community. Today Lehman’s is an internationally known company.
- Quidsi: Quidsi is a New Jersey retailer that delivers diapers and baby products under the domain diapers.com. The company was founded in New Jersey by two dads who were tired of midnight runs for diapers, frustrated searches for the right diaper size, and wasted time waiting in store lines. The men looked for online diaper sources, found none, and decided to launch the business.
- Zumiez: Zumiez is a niche retailer that sells products related to surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding. Its target market is primarily young consumers.
Each business has been successful by targeting a specific customer base. It would not make sense for Quidsi to target single adults without children. Likewise, Zumiez would squander marketing dollars by targeting professional women. By identifying your typical customer, your business will be able to get the most bang for its buck and get the right customers through the doors.
Some business owners incorrectly assume that using a target market to determine advertising strategies will exclude potential customers. That is not the case. Focusing on your target market simply gives you the best opportunity for success. Branching out or including additional target markets can happen after the business is off the ground. Trying to include additional markets prematurely can lead to failure. Do not let fear or apprehension steer you away from what has proven to be most successful.
There are several ways to identify your target market. The first place to start is with the demographics and personal characteristics of your current customer base. Look for specific factors such as:
- Income level
- Education level
- Marital status
Conduct the same analysis on a business that most closely mirrors yours (the competition). If you are going to be targeting a similar market, identify those customers and then figure out a way to improve on your competitor’s marketing plan.
A note of caution: As with anything, people often mistakenly swing from one extreme to another. Do not let yourself break down your target market too far. Focusing on a minute segment of potential customers can be just as detrimental as focusing on a target market that is too large.
Identifying your target market is an important part of the business/marketing process. Knowing exactly who your typical customers are will enable you to maximize your efforts, and put you in the best possible position for early and sustained success. This information can also help you tweak your overall business idea to better serve your target market.
The first step in any business venture is choosing a name and creating a business vision. Many times, people jump the gun and skip the importance of these steps. Doing so without determining your target market can put you in a precarious position that quite often leads to failure. Although it is common for your excitement and passion to tempt you to sidestep the process – do not. Force yourself to complete all the necessary steps and you will put yourself in the best position to succeed.