Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Keys To Knowing Your Market

Recently, I facilitated a workshop on how to market a business. I asked participants who their market is. Many responded with, “Everyone!” I’ve got news for you, not everyone is your market. If this is your thinking you are headed for trouble – double time. No business can be all things to all people. You will do better to think in terms of expanding your ability to reach specific customers and satisfy their particular needs.

Although marketing does involve a great deal of creativity, it also requires incredible logic and systems. Unfortunately, many people focus primarily on the creativity with little, if any, logic. Prior to investing too much time or money on your marketing and PR, it is essential to understand who you will be marketing to. You can save countless hours of frustration and vast amounts of money by being clear on who wants to buy your product or service, how they want to buy and where they are.

Regardless of what your product or service is, you must identify your customers and understand as much as possible about what they want and why they would do business with you. Ask yourself the following questions:

Why would they do business with you?

What is the benefit you bring to them?

What makes you unique?

Who are they?

Where do they live?

Where do they hang out?

The process of finding your customers/clients doesn’t have to be difficult, nor does it need to cost a lot of money. However, it does require that you find out as much as you can about who they are. The more you know the more focused your marketing efforts can be. The more focused your efforts, the better your outcome.

Demographics - Who are they? The place to begin is to analyze your current customer base. Describe them. What is their income level? What are their interests? What encouraged them to buy from you? What publications do they read? What associations do they belong to? What charities are they involved with? How old are they? What is their marital status? Are they of an alternative lifestyle? Where do they live and what area of town do they live in? How do they like to spend their spare time? What are their hobbies? What are their spending habits? Where do they go on vacation? How do they like information communicated to them?

Another thing to consider is their generation. In other words, are they the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y Generation or the Millennium Generation?

For example, Generation X people were born from 1961 – 1981, their ages range from 20 – 34 or 35. There are approximately 93 million people in this age group. They have the remote in one hand a mouse in the other. They spend $125 billion annually eating out, buying clothes, and taking vacations. They are creative, techno savvy, independent, and energetic when tapped into their passion.

The Silent Generation in America was born between 1925 and 1942. Over half this group is retired at this point. By 2010 there will be few, if any, of this generation in command of an industry. They will mostly have gone well into more silence. Depending on their financial status will determine their spending habits.

What cultural influences do your customers have? Are they extremely wed to the Internet or do they prefer to read newspapers? Do they have an active lifestyle or is their idea of a lot of activity getting up to change the channel on television rather than use the remote? Are they bilingual and bicultural? The answers are key in determining how to market to them.

Customer needs – Consider reasons people buy your product or service. For example, if they are going to purchase a car, what is the motivating factor for them? Are they interested in the features or the benefits? Features would be the tires, gas mileage, size of engine, air bags, etc. Benefits would include things like low risk of harm coming to you or your loved ones due to the type of tires you have. Another benefit could be the money you can spend on other things due the savings you will realize because of great gas mileage. Another benefit could be a feeling of power due to the size of the engine.

Geographic region – Where does you target market live? Based on geographic region, what are their lifestyle habits? For example, if they live in an extremely cold climate, their level and type of outdoor activity will be different than someone who lives in a warmer climate.

These are just some of the areas you will want to consider as you develop a marketing campaign. Again, the more you know about your customer and target market, the more efficient your campaign can be. And the more efficient the campaign, the more cost effective.

Kathleen Gage is a bestselling author, keynote speaker and corporate trainer who works with individuals and organizations who want to increase their market position, sales and level of achievement. Access her free ebook STREET SMARTS EMARKETING Click

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