To be able to grow any business, you have to market the product or service to a particular target audience. Without narrowing your focus to a specific customer, you miss the opportunity to be viewed as a specialist or worse spend marketing dollars trying to reach a huge audience and not make much of an impression. To really connect or engage a loyal customer base, you must have a specific message that resonates with them. Otherwise, you will miss out on chances to sell your products and services.
In order to identify the proper target market of your small business, you must conduct market research to learn more about who might need your product or service. Your business can do market research through either a primary or secondary research methods. Once you identify who makes up your target market, then you’ll need to find out more about them as individual people and learn things such as where they spend time online.
What is Primary research?
Primary research is any research that a business does from scratch. Once original data is collected via one-on-one interviews, focus groups, phone calls, surveys, and it’s analyzed, it is considered primary research. Through the different forms of primary research, your business has the opportunity to test its brand identity and marketing messages. You will also make connections with potential targets, all while gaining valuable information.
- One-on-one interviews: Your business can select one out of every 100 customers (or however many you choose) that visit its website or walk into the store to interview one-on-one. With an interview between a representative of your business and a customer, you can form a relationship. You’ll show your customers that you are interested in them. By sitting with someone face-to-face, you give them the chance to provide valuable feedback and teach you more about how and why people shop there, or use your products or services.
- Surveys: In creating and distributing a survey, your business can gather data pertaining to its audience directly online, which is fast. Along with your survey email, include the option to visit a landing page or even a mini site before they get to the People like to compensated for their time. Provide some sort of incentive for completing the survey, like a freebie, promotional code or a discounted product, and many will be happy to take your survey.
- Focus groups: With focus groups, your business can collect the same types of information as it would with a survey, but more in-depth and with the advantage of face-to-face interaction. Participants are able to see and touch products which is nice. They’ll also feel that your business genuinely has an interest in hearing their feedback when you give people the ability to connect with fellow participants and spend time thinking about your brand, it’s a win/win which can create a long-time customer.
Here are some typical questions to ask your potential target customers so that you can learn more.
- How do you spend your free time?
- What values are most important to you?
- How do you prefer to interact and communicate with businesses?
- What issues do you most often encounter when buying XX?
- What factors contribute to your purchasing decisions?
- How can your business’s product or service help them?
- How do they most often access news information?
- Where do you most often spend time online?
- Where do you like to shop online?
With these types of questions, your business will gain better insight into why your customers do or would buy from you, and what makes them tick. By knowing more about their decision-making, personalities, and concerns, you can be more effective when it comes to building your business’s brand message and value proposition.
Unlike primary research, with secondary research, part of the process has already been done for you. It uses data that has been collected by outside organizations (like market research firms or government agencies.) You leverage the data collected by outside sources and use it to form your own conclusions. You can learn more about your competitors and your industry as a whole through secondary research. Seeing who your competitors have identified as their target market and how they position their brand can help your business’ marketing efforts. Your small business can not be for everyone, and therefore does not need to try to market itself to everyone. Identify your target market and begin catering to the specific needs of your ideal customer.
About the author:
Sarah Saker is a small business coach and freelance writer specializing in process development for small businesses. Connect with Sarah on About.me for writing or coaching help.