Starting a business, whether online or in a brick and mortar building can be daunting. First, you have to figure out what is needed and whether you have what it takes to fill that need. Next, you need to put it together. If it’s a service, you need to figure out how to create the service and fund it. If it’s a product, you may need to invent it, fund it, and then find a manufacturer and distributor. While those processes are challenging, the biggest thing you really need to do is find a target audience to make your business successful.
How do you figure out who your consumers are?
You will have to find a target audience who needs what you have to offer. There are some important steps you can take to find your buyer in the open market. Start simple and work your way through the thinking process, just like you did when you created your business plan:
- Refer to your business plan you created when you sought financing. You had to write a report to the financing institution to tell them how you will use the money and how they will get a return for their money. Your plan defined who, what and how right there.
- Create an image of your buyer. You can even create an imaginary person to put the data in a narrative form so that you can actually see the buyers you are talking to online or in your stores. What is are demographic factors related to your buyer. Ask yourself what this group needs that is not currently being offered.
- Take advantage of marketing research companies that already have the data for you. All you will need to do is correlate that data to fit your buyer image.
- If budget is an issue, use other data to help you figure out your consumer. You can use surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Check out surveymonkey.com for a free source for data to help you find your target audience.
- After you have been on the market for 3 to 6 months, use your data from your actual buyers to find out who is buying, how they are finding you (their preferred search engine), and what they are saying about your business, products, and services (social media). Focus your sales toward that audience. Check data again from time to time so you can maintain your target audience.
A mock-up business to show you how it’s done.
Let’s look at a skateboard business. They sell all the related gear: boards, wheels, protective gear, and cool clothing for skaters. They want to know what buyers want and who buys the gear. They will start with their business plan where they wrote their goals. They will also want to create their own profile that includes their mission statement and find what makes their business special among similar businesses. Do they offer training for new skaters? Do they offer repair and maintenance services? How do they relate to the users: online chat or perhaps in-house classes?
Not only do they need to profile their users, they also need to profile their buyers. Are the kids buying their own gear? Not highly likely, so who is? The ready answer is that their parents and grandparents are buying the boards and safety gear. So this business will have to create a two-prong approach to attract the users and the buyers. What can they offer the adults to get their business? One way is to offer the best safety gear with the highest consumer ratings. Providing that data is going to bring in the parents who buy the equipment.
It is your job to figure out who is using the gear, who is buying it, how they are finding you and what they are saying about you. As you learn these factors, you can find your target audience.
How important is it to find a target audience?
Some companies really understand who is interested in their products and services and enjoy a great deal of success. Do your research to ensure you are getting the attention of your target audience. Many articles can be found that will show you which companies figured it all out and how they went about it.
All companies have different personalities. Each one offers something specific to a particular target audience. Each company will have to create its own strategy to finding the right audience for their own success.