3 Reasons Why You Better Know Your Customers...Or Else
By Michele Pariza Wacek
Which statement sums up how you define your customers?
1) I have a very specific customer in mind -- very specific and very narrow. I only want to sell to this specific customer, I'm not interested in attracting anyone else.
2) If they have a pulse, they're a potential customer.
Okay, in case you were wondering, number 1 is good and number 2 isn't.
Yet I can't tell you how many business owners I run into who are closer to number 2 than number 1.
I know, it's difficult to think you might be turning away potential business. But trust me, your life will be much easier once you've carefully defined your potential customer (also known as your target market). And to further convince you, here are 3 reasons.
1. You'll be able to find your target market more easily. If you know exactly who you're looking for, you'll have a much easier time tracking down where they're hanging out (i.e. publications they read, Web sites they visit, radio stations they listen to). Then you'll know exactly where you should be spending your advertising dollars and/or which editors you should be courting for potential PR stories. Best yet, you'll probably be spending less money/time and yielding far better results.
2. You'll be able to persuade your target market more easily. If you know exactly who you're talking to, and what their challenges and problems are, you'll be able to craft far more targeted marketing materials. You can use language and images they respond to (which will make them feel like you understand them) plus you'll be able provide a specific solution to their challenges.
You can't do this if you're trying to please "everyone." "Everyone" is a tricky fellow. He's tough to pin down. After all, "everyone" buys a product for different reasons. Take cell phones, for instance.
Senior citizens, teenagers and parents buy cell phones, but they buy the, for different reasons. Teenagers buy them so they can chat with their friends all the time. Parents buy them for their teens in order to keep track of them (the teens, not the cell phones). My 90-year-old grandfather bought one for emergency use only. Each one of those reasons is a different benefit. The ad that appeals to parents knowing where their teenagers are is certainly NOT going to work for teenagers, and neither of those ads will be terribly persuasive to my grandfather.
So if you're trying to sell to "everyone" just imagine how complicated it's going to be to try and cover all those different reasons in a single marketing piece. Not really possible, is it?
3. You'll have an easier time with your business. If you're busy running around providing different products or services to different customers, chances are you're not as efficient as you could be. This is especially true for business owners who are service providers. If you're constantly learning new skills for each client who walks in the door, how efficient will you be? Wouldn't it be better to stick with what you're good at and just sell that?
Creativity Exercise -- Discover your target market
Here's an exercise you can try if you're still unsure of your target market or if you want to make sure you aren't missing any potential customers.
Get a sheet of paper. Write down all the features of your product. Features are descriptions of your product. Take cell phones, for example. Features of cell phones are they're small and wireless.
Now change those features to benefits. For a cell phone, you can carry it anywhere and use it anywhere (anywhere there's a signal, that is.)
Now make a list of who needs those benefits. Think broadly here. Maybe parents or people in certain industries or people with certain jobs. Try to come up with at least 50 markets. Be silly. That's when you're most likely to hear your muse (or genius) speaking to you.
Another technique is to ask your subconscious for help. Do a meditation where you ask your subconscious to show you someone from your target market. Ask questions and see what the answers are.
Once you come up with your list, then it's time to critique and judge. Try and narrow it to no more than five target markets. One or two are better yet. The more target markets, the harder it gets. You can always start with one, and once you've made yourself known in that market, you can move to a second and a third and so on.
About the Author
Michele Pariza Wacek is the author of "Got Ideas? Unleash Your Creativity and Make More Money." She offers two free e-zines that help subscribers combine their creativity with hard-hitting marketing and copywriting principles to become more successful at attracting new clients, selling products and services and boosting business. She can be reached at http://www.TheArtistSoul.com. Copyright 2005 Michele Pariza Wacek
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