How To Find And Sell To Your Target Market 1
Part 1: Finding Your Target Market
When I teach small business classes on marketing strategy, I often
ask participants the question, "Who are your customers? Who will buy
your product?" I am often surprised that otherwise savvy small business
people either have no idea who will buy from them, or they assume that
Assumptions like this can lead to wrong decisions, wrong pricing,
wrong marketing strategy – and ultimately, business failure.
The most successful small businesses understand that only a limited
number of people will buy their product or service. The task then
becomes determining, as closely as possible, exactly
who those people are, and 'targeting' the business's
marketing efforts and dollars toward them.
You, too, can build a better, stronger business, by
identifying and serving a particular customer group – your
One of the first things you need to do is to refine your
product or service so that you are NOT trying to be 'all things
to all people.' Become a specialist!
For example, in my business, an eco-tourism company, we made
some specific decisions early in our market planning. As a
charter boat business, we knew that there were plenty of fishing
charter operators in the area, and 'party boats' as well. So we
decided that we would offer sightseeing or special event
charters, and that we would not allow alcohol on board, or
fishing rods. Yes, this decision eliminated a percentage of the
market – but it also gave us a 'niche' that we could capitalize
on, and expanded our market in a way that other charter
operators could not take advantage of.
Next, you need to understand that people purchase products or
services for three basic reasons:
- To satisfy basic needs.
- To solve problems.
- To make themselves feel good.
You'll need to determine which of those categories your
product or service is the solution to, and be prepared to market
Your product or service may fit more than one category, too –
our charter business primarily targets folks who just want to
feel good – spending a day out on the water, relaxing and being
waited on. But it also targets people who have visitors coming
from out of town, or even overseas, because we represent a
solution to the problem of "What will we do while our company is
here? How can we entertain them, or show them our area?"
The next step in creating an effective marketing strategy is
to zero in on your target market. Continue on to the next page
to learn how to use market segmentation to define your target
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