In case you missed it, here's an excellent post from Kevin J. May that may enlighten you about the current state of our business and what we should all be doing:
We all want success in our business. To accomplish this you must have enough customers to buy into the service offered. Before you begin, time must be spent identifying who your customers will be. Every associate has a target in mind and like snowflakes, no two are identical. Everyone is a potential customer although evaluating them as your target market will take some effort. You must ask yourself who are my most likely customers? Then tailor your marketing and services to that particular group of customers.
Defining Customers is an Important Requirement?
Your perception of who those customers are will enhance the chances of your business success. By definition your targeting can create a higher demand for your services. Provide the direction on how to tailor your services to fit the customer's needs. Allow for modification to better suit the desires of the customers. Show your most promising prospects the added value your service brings to them. Market more efficiently and effectively by KNOWING YOUR CUSTOMER. A boiler plate or blanket approach to your marketing may cause confusion for your target. Always make it a point to develop your marketing message which best appeals to your targeted prospects.
Newer associates may resist the benefit of defining a target customer base with thoughts that they are limiting business or reducing the amount of potential customers by doing so. Don't buy into the misconception. Identifying targets does not preclude your business from accepting customers which don't necessarily fit the expected profile. When that customer seeks your expertise you will still be readily available.
Your want should be to focus on those targeted customers who are most inclined to pay for your services in lieu of merely courting those that could become customers. Subscribe to your instincts of marketing efficiency with particular attention to expenses, time management and most important the customer. Without targeting the most inclined to pay your energies will be lost along with your time & money.
How to Define Market
You have the ability to define your target customers in any manner that fits your need. Targeting can be defined through occupation, hobbies, familial status, gender, income, neighborhood, geography or age plus many more. This means identifying specific characteristics of people and / or businesses who you believe are likely to need your service. These commonalities and characteristics are sometimes called a demographic profile. Use of this criteria will help you determine those customers who hold the most potential for your success. Painting your market with too broad of a stroke is a common mistake. In my experience you can't err on the side of being too specific with your target. How narrow you want your field is entirely up to you, however, I don't recommend a pointillist's method. As time moves on you will find your understanding of the art rather than it's science. The more carefully you can define the target the more likely it will be that your marketing efforts will bear fruit.
Yes, a Business Can Be a Customer Too
Selling to businesses can be lucrative due to their general ability to buy more than an individual can. Why limit yourself to one sale when a hundred or more is a possibility. Institutional Buyers can be a target for your efforts also. It's not necessarily an easy starting point but keep it's benefit as an option as you progress. Again, you'll need to define your specific target and how to distinguish your unique value to the customer.
A niche serves as the differentiating and critical function of distinguishing you from your direct competitors. Attempting to be everything for everybody is expensive and inefficient. Developing a strategy which caters to specific needs not fully served by other businesses can be very profitable. This is where the small business can thrive. A builder may use an operational niche while real estate associates benefit through the use of a customer based niche.
It's All in the Knowledge
Be confident that your niche contains enough customers to sustain your business. Find one in an area that displays an unmet demand and fill it with your specialty of service. We've gotten to know our customers, although we must also know the industry and who our competition is. All of these components will be malleable and change over time therefore the process is ongoing. Through continual observation and intuition your research will educate you about your market, its customers and your competition. Subtle adjustments to target the changing habits of these entities will assure your place in the niche. Learning about and constant monitoring of your market will easily identify when adjustments become necessary to remain profitable. After all, isn't that your goal?
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