Starting a small business can be one of the most rewarding experiences one can have as an entrepreneur. You may be excellent at your chosen craft, but how do you market yourself effectively towards your target market? How do you know what your target market is? What does target market even mean?
According to About.com Guide’s Target Marketing article by Susan Ward, “Target Marketing involves breaking a market into segments and then concentrating your marketing efforts on one or a few key segments.”
Now… you may be so in love with your product or service that you want to target everyone, but the truth is, if you try to be everything to everyone, you won’t be anything to anyone.
Michael Dell couldn’t have said it better…
The idea of being all things to all people is a thing of the past.
In order to figure out who your target market is, you will need to:
- segment your market, which involves selecting the general market where your company will target customers,
- select your approach for segmentation based on demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioural variables, and
- assess and select which segment to target based on the particular segment’s fit to your company’s goals and objectives, core competencies, and your product/service offerings.
Once you discern who your target market is, then you also want to look at how to make your business stand out amongst your competition. This is called differentiation. What makes you unique? Special? What do you have that others don’t?
If this is something you struggle with, try writing a SWOT Analysis. A SWOT Analysis goes over your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The Strengths and Weaknesses would be internal (from a company perspective), and the Opportunities and Threats would be external. A SWOT Analysis is a great way to figure out exactly how your business compares with your competitors. It’s also a good idea to do a SWOT Analysis on your competitors – and then you can simply work on achieving results where they falter.
Here’s a good example. Let’s say you own a flower shop. Your flower shop is small, quaint, and has various giftware that people can purchase in addition to the wonderful bouquets of flowers and plants you have for sale. However, your pricing can hardly compare with the flower shop across the street, that has a huge store, and gets all of its flowers wholesale for a significantly reduced price. They charge much less for flowers than your store, but their quality is lacking and the flowers wilt very quickly. What do you do to compete?
If you can’t compete on price, then out do your competitor by providing exceptional service to your customers. Personable service paired with intimate knowledge of your product line that helps your customer find exactly what they want, usually goes a long way towards getting and retaining a customer. Remember, it is very difficult for an organization to be all things to all people. Therefore, figure out the weaknesses of your competitors, bring the opportunities to light, and be quick on your feet.
It can be common for a big chain to not have the best customer service, for example. The bigger they get, sometimes the harder it is for them to deliver quality service to their customers. For a small business, you have that going for you. You can be that to your customers. Remember, you’re an expert at your chosen craft, you’re passionate about it, you can’t stop talking about it. Share that passion! Identify your target market and go out there and tell them all about YOU and why they should do business with you.