Last week, we talked about meeting a consumer’s unmet need with your product or service. You may have been left wondering – who is this “consumer” person, and how do I reach him or her? Generally speaking, a consumer is someone who uses goods or services. What your business is most interested in is finding its target consumer – that group of people who is both interested in your product or service and willing to purchase it.
Defining a target audience can be easier for an existing business because it has the ability to analyze sales data and survey existing customers about their purchase habits, product preferences, and demographic information. But what about those new businesses that have only a handful of customers or have yet to make a sale? While you may not have much customer data to go through, you can still define your target market. I will assume that you’ve already determined that your product or service will meet someone’s need. Now you need to further define the characteristics of the people who would be best served by your business and use them to create a target consumer profile.
For example, if you ran a daycare center that was open from 6pm to 6am, then parents working late shifts might be a good place to start your consumer profile. You’d want to understand the demographic information of this group – age, gender, income level, ethnic background, education level, hobbies and interests, household size, marital status and more. Some of this information can be found in local Census data or through a Google search, while other pieces may be gleaned from a poll of businesses around the center. Once you know these basic pieces of information, you can take your target consumer profile a bit further. In our daycare example, you may find a target who is a 25-45 year old single mom making $40,000/year or less and working in a hospital or factory setting. If your research shows that there are enough women who fit this profile within commuting distance of the daycare, then you may decide to market your business exclusively to local factories and hospitals as an incentive they could offer to potential employees who are open to working a later shift but don’t because they lack childcare. Remember, this doesn’t mean your business will turn away customers who don’t fit your consumer profile. It only means you are being more targeted in your marketing approach.
If you are still not convinced that targeting is important, consider these three benefits:
1. Defining your target consumer is important because it helps to focus your business. Rather than trying to please everyone, you can target your marketing efforts to the one group that is most interested in your business.
2. Concentrating on a target consumer can save your organization money. Your R&D and Marketing budgets can go further because you will only be in places where your target will be looking rather than anywhere you can find ad space. Remember, it is better to reach 500 people when 95% of them are highly likely to buy your product or service than 5000 when only 1% of them are to your business. Back to our daycare example. It would be better to advertise with a local temp agency that specializes in placing employees with manufacturing jobs than to run an ad in the sports section of a newspaper (unless, of course, your research showed these women were sports fanatics who read newspapers regularly).
3. It is easier to build genuine relationships with one or two target groups. Most people want to feel valued, even in business. By partnering with your customers and making products or services that fill their unmet needs, you will create a group of people who identify with your brand. They will feel like your business really cares about them. When people feel valued, they will likely tell someone else. When friends ask them for a late night daycare recommendation, for example, your business will be top of mind. Getting loyal customers who spread the word about the greatness of your business can be the best marketing dollars you spend.