So you’re ready to go into business. You have your product and it’s a great one (you worked on it so hard and with dedication). You even built your website to market it according to the best practices in the industry. Now… who are your customers? Do you know who you want to sell your products to?
“I want to sell to everyone!” is the prompt and enthusiastic answer of many new entrepreneurs. That’s a nice idea… but it doesn’t work. No company has “everyone” as their target customers. Even a huge brand like, say, Coca Cola won’t try to market its products to babies and people suffering from diabetes, for instance. For every product there is a specific market segment and this market segment comprises people with specific needs, preferences and interests.
Your task as a marketer is to identify this group of people and develop marketing strategies which appeal to them. These are five common steps to help you identify your perfect target customer:
1. What Problem Does Your Product Solve?
This is the most critical question you need to ask yourself before you decide to go into business. What type of problem or need will people solve if they use your product? For instance, you’ve developed a new, child-safe vegetable peeler. So, your product solves the need of young mothers to be able to work in the kitchen, peeling potatoes and other vegetables, without worrying that their children would hurt themselves if they get their hands on the peeler.
At this point, you have a general target customer: women with young children. However, you need to refine your target audience even more. Let’s move on to the next level.
2. How Do You Picture Your Target Client?
When you started developing your product, what type of people did you have in mind? Whom were you developing your product for, in other words? It is unlikely that you spent a lot of time, devoted your talent and abilities to a whimsical project without practical application. You must have encountered a problem, or met someone who had a problem and you created the product as a solution. What are the characteristics of the person who most likely needs your product?
3. Where Can You Get in Touch with Your Target Client?
You have a simple answer to that: on the social media! Everyone is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, right? That is correct, but do you know exactly at what time of the day they spend time browsing the social media, engaging in conversations with their friends, sharing photos and interesting links?
And even if you know when you find them online on Facebook, do you know what type of post would catch their attention and make them click on a link, or follow through with your offer? These are the finer elements which define your target audience, which you can discover by creating a persona, or a prototype customer profile.
4. Build Your Customer Profile
This is the nitty-gritty of defining your perfect target audience. Let’s go back to the hypothetical case of the child-safe vegetable peeler. What else can you say about your ideal customer? Is she a working or a stay-at-home mum? Does she spend a lot of time online looking for healthy recipes for her family? Is she looking for discounts or does she prefer top-quality products at any price?
5. Keep Searching and Updating Your Customer Profile
The world is continuously changing and so do people. They change their preferences. Their needs change. They start out as young professionals, then become homeowners, and then parents. At each step in their lives, people have different interests, needs and problems to solve.
Your job as an entrepreneur is to find the exact group of people at the exact moment in their lives when they need your product. And to keep seeking people like them to continually have a market for your products and services.