One of the very first things that any budding entrepreneur needs to establish – before even setting up a small business such as a coffee shop, gym or dental clinic – is who they are targeting with their product or service.
Remember that you need to provide products and services that someone out there actually needs – and more to the point, you need a lot of such people. If there isn’t much interest in your Batman-themed hotel in a small northern post-industrial town, you’ll need to think again about whether there is a sustainable target audience there.
That’s not to say that an especially niche business can’t be a success, as long as it gets things right in the targeting of its audience. You might be interested in reading about the experiences of various niche brands in this article in The Telegraph, in which Richard Turnbull – the founder and chief executive of nootropics supplement brand Utmost Me – advises: “Don’t try to create something for which no one is looking… there must be people looking for what you have”.
Defining a target audience is not ‘limiting’ your business
It has been suggested by some entrepreneurs down the years that going to the trouble of defining a target audience is actually a bad thing for your business. The argument is that it’s a limiting thing to do, and that you shouldn’t exclude potential customers from your business before you’ve even started selling anything.
In the real world, though, defining a target audience is something that your firm has to do for the sake of efficiency. When you’re just starting out in business and don’t have deep pockets for marketing anyway, you’ll want to channel your efforts in the direction of those who are most likely to buy from you, rather than waste any time on those who almost certainly won’t.
What characteristics make up your target customer?
So, what is the demographic profile of those who might actually buy from you? Think carefully about such factors as your typical customer’s likely age, gender, income level, occupation, buying habits and so on.
Some of the task of pinpointing a typical customer may seem like common sense – for example, if you run a salon or gym in an unfashionable small town, your target audience will almost certainly be local people for the most part, rather than people visiting for the day. Naturally, there’s also little point spending a lot of time targeting men if you are selling women-oriented beauty products, allowing for the possibility of men buying such products for their wives.
Also bear in mind that your target audience will almost certainly evolve over time as your business does. So if your firm is going through a transitional phase, sit down with your team and discuss whether any alterations need to be made to your customer profiling.
Then, it’s simply a case of target, target, target
Your chosen target audience really will shape your small business’s entire approach to its day-to-day operations and the finer points of its marketing alike. That means it’s really important to be sharp about the actual targeting of those customers.
Does your company website say all of the right things about your brand to such an audience? What about your brand messaging, logo and colours, or the nature and regularity of your social media updates? Are you on the right advertising platforms, and have you considered the merits of the various major ecommerce marketplaces such as Groupon?
There really is a lot to contemplate when it comes to learning about and better appealing to your target audience. So, don’t be complacent – think and work hard and sharp to help to ensure this crucial aspect of your business operation is a success.