Many businesses sell to whoever chooses to buy from them. On the face of it, there’s no problem with this, but often it means that they are not dealing with the customers who would most appreciate their strengths, and who would bring them the most profitable business.
A far better way is to choose your customers, then concentrate on winning those customers by designing products and services that match what they need.
How can you do this?
In our Essential Business Guide we say that first you should think of all those people who could (in theory) buy from you. Now you need to narrow that list down in some way:
- You may set some limits, like not wanting to travel too far, for instance, so you might decide: ‘People within 30 miles of here’.
- Your research may tell you that some groups are much less likely to buy from you than others, so you could reduce the number again: ‘People over 30 with a household income of more than £40,000 per year’…
…and so on.
Now that you have a shorter, more manageable list, it’s time to focus on them even more closely. Marketers put people into groups by looking at their needs or characteristics. For example, older couples are very likely to have a different reason for buying than younger people with children; people with a passion for their hobby are likely to spend more money on it than an average person would.
Narrow your focus
Decide where your various groups fit within the target. Those whose needs fit most closely with your business strengths should be right in the middle, those whose needs could fit with your business, but not quite so perfectly, would go into the outer circles. For example, a small company selling solar panels may decide on the groups shown in the sample target on the right.
Your next step is to build up a picture of each group as real people. Our solar panel business owner thinks about the professional couple in the middle circle and puts together a list of their likely interests and reading and viewing choices. He decides that:
- They probably read a serious daily newspaper and a Sunday paper including supplements.
- She might also read Good Housekeeping magazine and listen to Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4.
- He reads Prospect magazine and listens to Classic FM.
- They are members of the National Trust and regular charity donors.
- They watch some daytime television and both have an interest in gardening.
Targeting your customers
Granted, our business owner is making some assumptions here, but by doing this exercise, he is thinking about his target customers as people, instead of a vague, indistinct group.
Working your way through these steps will you to choose the right places to place ads, display brochures, send press releases, offer interviews and so on, to make the best use of your budget and to make your customers feel that you are talking to them personally.
If you target your customers carefully, you’re much more likely to hit the business bull’s eye!