Now that summer is officially over (sniffle), it’s time to get back business, which means it’s time to focus in on the ever-nagging question – how am I going to bring in more sales? Are you the guy or girl who says, “We can do business with anyone. We don’t target anyone in particular; our current clients cover a wide range of industries.”
As a small business owner with a budget to match, that mindset is the kiss of death and will leave you aimlessly looking for new clients, never really developing a systematic approach to increasing your closing ratios. Specializing in an area increases your credibility and targets your marketing efforts, including your marketing communications, media advertising campaigns, and networking activity. If you are a seasoned business owner, have you taken the time this year yet to really think about whether you need a change in your target market?
So how do you come up with this niche? First, think about who makes up your current client list. More so, who makes up your “A” list?Target marketing; a blueprint for success Who is most likely to pay you? Are the decision makers accessible, either by what they read or the trade shows they attend? Do you have a compelling message to deliver in 30 seconds at a networking meeting or by phone?
Once you have chosen your target market, ask yourself a few more questions. Does this group have a buying cycle? If so, how will this affect your marketing? For instance, payroll changes, new technology and other more costly business processes are generally made when new budgets get approved in January. If this is your market, expecting a return on a marketing investment made in April may not pay off for 7 months. Does your target market have business cycles, whereby they are not going to be receptive to your marketing message certain times of the day or year? For example, you may want to steer clear from trying to market to accountants from January to April, and restaurant owners won’t talk to you from 12-2 or 4-7 during the day. Understanding your target market’s business cycles will make it easier for you to contact them at the right time – when they are most willing to listen to what you have to say about your product or service.
Next, ask yourself how you set yourself apart from the competition. What is your unique selling proposition? What can you do better, faster, cheaper? What is your competitive advantage to save money, reduce costs, save time? Is it measurable? How can you let your target market know these things?
If you still aren’t sure about who your target market is, do some market research or informational interviews. Gather enough evidence until you start seeing a trend in the responses. Your competitors’ websites will offer a clue as well.
Be sure your target market is large enough to justify the effort and expense of developing your marketing mix, technology and promotion. And remember, developing one target market may not be enough. If a law was passed tomorrow and you could no longer sell to that market anymore, what is plan B? Diversify. You don’t need just one target market, but you do need one to start with. Just begin somewhere, and you’re on your way.
Once you’ve identified some target markets to engage in a marketing effort, it is now time to decide what your marketing message will be, and through what marketing mediums you can utilize to make the most impressions with the highest impact.