Ever wonder what separates great marketing that generates new customers from the weaker versions that drive the expense line with very little return on investment? Well the simple answer is a “well defined target market”. I know that sounds a little basic but you’d be surprised how many small and mid-sized companies only have a vague notion of who their ideal customer is.
I’ve worked on and for a number of great consumer brands and in each case I had a detailed picture in my head about who the customer looked like that I was trying to create a relationship with. I often use a simple exercise with students in my brand management course to describe in some detail what a Pepsi drinker would look like if he/she were to walk in to the classroom at that very moment.
I challenge them to describe a Pepsi drinkers cloths, attitude, age, lifestyle, habits, personality, gender in as much detail so that someone with enough skill could draw a police sketch of that person. It is with that clear mental picture that you can now begin to develop and deliver the right programs that will appeal to that customer type to maximize the opportunity.
The book E-Myth talks about small business failure as a result of a poor planning process or a complete lack of a business plan. I would suggest that most small business operators fall into an idea, get consumed with it, and have very little idea beyond the initial success they might experience as to who will buy their product or service in the long term.
The initial phases of growth of a small business is driven by the connections of friends, family and past colleagues that reach out to help you get going. But once that source of new business has been tapped out then the business must generate new customers from the big black abyss called the ‘market’ that has never heard about you. You need to be able to sort through all the market groups out there to zero in on the ones that represent the best buying opportunity for your business. To do that you need clarity around WHO that ideal customer is.
So if your marketing efforts are falling short of expectations I suggest you step back and prepare a detailed description of who you think your ideal customer is. Define with absolute clarity who the customers are that are out there in the world that has a problem that my product or service solves? If you can’t answer that simple question then you don’t have a business. If you’re not sure, that’s ok. At least start with a clear picture and then adjust your sights.
There’s no sense firing cannonballs at a market opportunity before you’ve at least tested with a few bullets.