A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about knowing who benefits from your business’ solutions. I wanted to take this opportunity to back up a little bit and lay some groundwork for those of you who are just starting your business, or those who for whatever reason have not yet taken the time to focus on this type of idea.
If you’ve taken any kind of basic marketing course, you have probably been told that you need to focus your marketing efforts on your “Target Audience”. One of the most important questions you can ask yourself when you’re first starting a business or developing a new marketing plan is, “Who is my target audience?”.
Unfortunately, many times our only frame of reference are large corporations and the segments of society that they seem to target. I’m not saying that there aren’t valuable lessons to learn from how Corporate America chooses to market themselves, but I am saying that effective marketing techniques will probably vary greatly between new businesses and established ones, between Fortune 500 companies and small start up entrepreneurial endeavors. Guess how effective you’re going to be using Geico’s marketing strategy on your new business that has minimal name recognition? You have to match your efforts to your assets.
Large corporations have the luxury of massive marketing budgets. They can hire agencies to design campaigns to appeal to a specific demographic. Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs probably don’t have those kind of deep pockets. The truth is, as you start your new business your only option is to be authentic. That means that who you are, your values, your interests, your personality ends up being projected through your business. If you realize this fact, you will start out with a rock solid marketing foundation. That foundation needs to be married to your business plan. (Look for more on that thought in a future blog post.)
Once you realize that your only option to create a genuine connection with your client base is to be authentic to yourself, and you harmonize your business plan to fit your personality your target audience will automatically present itself. No you didn’t miss anything. Your target audience is the audience that gravitates towards your message, your product, your service….your business. Don’t be surprised if this group of people isn’t exactly who you envisioned it to be. It’s very difficult to predict how a message, product, service, or image (or all of the above) is going to resonate with people. Unless you have the wherewithal to fund focus groups, you probably won’t know who your target audience is until they select you.
But once you do know, cherish this group of people. After all, they selected you. They like you. They dig what you’re doing. Make them proud. Engage them. Bring them in. Make them feel as important as they are. If you can nurture, intensify and grow this group, your business will have infinite potential. Don’t muck it up in the beginning by ignoring or alienating your target audience.
As I write this, I realize that this sounds like an easy to follow instructional manual at first read, but the reality is that this is a process. This process requires a lot of flexibility – not just the willingness to adapt to a changing business reality, but also infrastructure that allows for that change. (But that’s another blog post.)
Do you have any stories about people that have selected you and how that made you feel? Are you able to pick out the commonalities of those who choose to do business with you? Have you taken the time to profile, understand and draw in this group of people? I’d love to hear your stories, comments and feedback in the comment section below!
Help spread the word!