Finding the right customers requires in-depth research on their lifestyle habits.
Finding a target market is not only helpful; it’s a critical part of the process of achieving lift-off for your company. After all, without customers, you have no business. When people ask, “How’s business?” they’re typically referring to the amount of customer turnover you’re receiving. So, it is eminently important to understand who you want to sell to, what they respond to, what they need from a product or a service such as yours and how much they’re willing to spend for it. Luckily, both in the real world and in the digital world, there are several tools that can help any entrepreneur and marketer figure out who their ideal customers are and how to get to them.
Leverage Your Demographics
When you’re planning your launch and trying to gain outside traction for your company, the best place to start looking for customers is the simplest place: wherever you are. After all, more people are likely to try to support a local small business than an unknown entity that exists purely online. And neighborhood/municipal demographics aren’t difficult to find. Look for the latest edition of “County and City Data Book” to find valuable census data about the people around you. You can pare the demographics down to population makeup, family circumstances, age, gender, income, occupation, education background and marital status. From there, you can highlight prominent groups in your community that would be interested in your service or product.
Visualize Your Target Customer
Once you know who your customers are on a more general scale, you can begin to visualize your customer profiles more clearly. Among the existing potential demo groups in your pool, who would most benefit from your service? Is there a disproportionate number of customers in a particular industry or field? What about income level or age group? It’s at this stage that you can begin to consider your customer’s lifestyle habits. Are they urbanites who bike, walk or use public transportation, or do they prefer to drive to further reaches of the city to discover new things? Do they prioritize fitness, or do they love luxury indulgences? Do they cook or order in? While these details seem inconsequential, they help you tap into the real lives of your customers and fine-tune your product to suit their lifestyles, as well as show you how much they pay for services and products similar to yours.
Identify the Pain Points of Real People
Now that you’ve narrowed down the ordinary lifestyle patterns of your ideal customers, you begin to contextualize your company within your average customer’s daily life. Consider the different reasons they might be interested in your product or service. Would a “Cupcake of the Month” service make a great gift? Are people looking purely for a monthly pick-me-up, or are they more interested in specific recipes that you may think about attaching along with the monthly shipment? Are they looking for a more tailored experience — which maybe includes an online flavor profile? This is also the stage where you should consider their needs and potential problems that may prevent your customer from using your service. Are you lacking more vegan and gluten-free options? Is there a wholesale deal you can make to help bring in offices as clients? How’s the price of your goods? You can find out these answers if you reach out to a sample of your potential ideal customers and simply ask them.
Find Out Where They Hang Out
When it comes to customer acquisition, it helps to know where you can find your ideal customers. Sure, Facebook and Twitter are no-brainers when it comes to online marketing, but you can personalize the experience much more specifically to your target demographic when you find out what their online habits are. For example, does your target market fall within the range of 30- to 50-year-old female shoppers in their casual hours? In this case, you’ll probably want to direct your marketing efforts towards Pinterest and Facebook over Twitter and LinkedIn. Knowing when the best time to post is also just as critical as the platform you choose to market on. For a really targeted campaign, you can also reach out to blogs and media entities that are most popular amongst your target market. A campaign for a Cupcake of the Month club should encompass guest posts on recipe blogs, design blogs and women’s interests magazines. Knowing what type of content plays well is also hugely important to the process: posting unique recipes, dinner party ideas and other similar types of articles that include relevant keywords will take you much further than where you started.
Receive as Much Feedback as You Can
By now, you should have at least a small base of subscribers or customers, and you will be looking to finely tune your product to the needs of your growing followers. Your followers will appreciate the chance to give your company some feedback, which will be very valuable to you. Send mailings and surveys with a small promotional incentive and carefully deliberate over what they have to say. This insight will help you improve your current product and give you a direction for how to expand your product line and better understand your customers.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses
Image credit: CC by fogfish