OK, so if you've read any of my Facebook posts or even some of my emails you should know by now that it's so, so, so important to know your Target Market. Sometimes I think it's more important then knowing your product. That's not really true, but it's sort of a give and take. If the market your targeting isn't the one that needs, wants, or is willing to pay for your product or service then you need to adjust one or the other so that they are a match. Otherwise, you're not going to get very far. It doesn't matter what you do.
What that means is that as business owners we should have an idea of what are target market is and what are product or service is, but now we need to take some steps to make them gel. Be prepared to make changes to either one of these or both until you find the perfect connection.
Step 1 - Given the product or service you are planning on selling, and thinking about your target market as if it was one or two actual people, what do you know about them? Here you're starting to create your Target Avatar (you know like the video games). So get out your pen and paper and get to creating. Here are some questions to get you started:
What does this person look like?
Are they male or female?
What level of education do they have?
Where do they live?
How much money do they make?
How old are they?
What kind of work do they do?
Do they have a family, a relationship, or are they single?
What do they like to read, where do they shop and visit?
What groups or clubs are they part of?
You get the idea. This is more then an overview. Dig down into what this person does and where you find them.
Step 2 - Once you know who your are looking for, you need to see if people are looking for you and what you're selling. You don't need to have all of these, to validate your idea, but having a few that can give you that feeling of justification of your business idea and will really help you figure out your target market.
2a - Look for where you're product or service is being sold and see if you can find any evidence that people are buying it. For a digital course it might mean going to www.Teachable.com and checking out what kind of classes are available and how much much they are sell and at what price points. Or you can look in Facebook groups or at comments on these sales pages. You might find that similar classes are being sold for higher dollar amounts, indicating that your target market has bigger bucks to spend. Reading the comments will help you understand what your target market's biggest pain points are too.
2b - Check www.Amazon.com. When you go on to Amazon, people share what they liked and didn't like about the media and books they buy. Try to find a few with high sales and check out what the reviews are saying. What can you take away from this research? This time with your target markets pain points you can fine tune your product, as needed, or come to the realization that your target market might not be who you thought and then choose to tweak it.
2c - Check Alltop.com for all the top blogs in a particular industry/category. Find blogs with Facebook pages associated them and check the audience insights inside your page ad manager. Here you'll learn more about the followers of a particular company (one that is similar to what you're aiming to be). It's not cheating! It's research.
3. Lastly, to find out more about your target market. Ask! You can join Facebook or networking groups and ask people what they think about what your offering or planing to offer. Some people will be willing to fill out a quick thoughtful survey of have a 5 -15 minute phone call, especially if they are part of your target market. Ask them everything you can and once you have done all 3 steps you will have a pretty solid understanding of who your target market is.
Once you do, don't forget to write it up and add it to you marketing plan. You're so close to having a killer marketing plan that gives you the confidence that you need to make the right decisions for your business.
Recently someone asked me if there was one thing that I, as a marketing person would tell them about marketing what would it be?
I thought for a minute and then I told them the most important thing you need to know as a marketer is who your target market it! Of course, that's after you know what product or service you are selling! It's impossible to sell, or create a strategy, a campaign, or know who or how to market if you don't know who you are marketing to.
See, it the old days of marketing it was more about being seen in general, now we have micro-niches, that really fine-tune who our ideal client avatar (also a newer term) is. So there you have it, know your target market and you'll be all set. No, just kidding! But having that information is super, super important. In fact, it's one of the steps in creating a marketing plan which is the starting place for creating your marketing strategy.
Let's back up a step, creating your marketing plan is like the overarching marketing approach or overview if you will of how your business is going to approach marketing. Once you have a marketing plan then you can think more about the strategy or the approach to getting the things on that plan to happen. It's like setting a goal and then reverse engineering it down to the actionable level so that you can make the goal a reality.
A Marketing Plan and Strategy go hand in hand. And they are a living document. Please, please, please don't do a marketing plan and then not look at again for 5 years or even for 1 year. For it to be effective you need to keep checking in on it.
You may be wondering why do I need a marketing plan for my business: so here are 3 reasons your small business needs a marketing plan/strategy:
1) A marketing plan/strategy tells you and your employees where you want to go. Even though the plan is a living document it still set for a definite amount of time. It's a road map to getting your business to move towards your goal and helps everyone get on the same page. In case you get hit by a bus or something. 😉
2) It can help you secure funding. Even if you are not going for funding now, it's import to understand that you may want to in the future and that funders will need to understand how you plan to repay them. Being able to provide a document that shows that you have thought it out and have developed a plan to do that is key in funders eyes.
3) It helps you evaluate new opportunities. Now just because the plan is a living document doesn't mean you should be changing it around every day. Having a marketing plan/strategy in place helps you make a decision when a new opportunity pops up. Say someone calls you out of the blue and asks you to speak at their conference where they are expecting 1000 small business owners to be in attendance. This sounds like an amazing opportunity, but let's take a look at how it fits into your plan.
Do you have anything in your plan about wanting to be a speaker? Is your target market a small business owner or do you help stay at home moms? Compare the opportunity to what your plan is and ask yourself how does this help me reach my goal? Maybe it's just something that needs to wait until next year, or it maybe it's not something that is right for your business at all!
There you have it, the first steps to thinking about marketing strategy and planning. What other ways have you found that marketing planning has been beneficial? Pop over to my Facebook page and let me know.