I have met with many business owners over the years, and one of the most important questions I’ve asked them is: Who is your target audience? Unfortunately, the answer I have most often received is: “Whoever will buy my stuff!” This response is both insufficient and dangerous.
Targeting is a crucial element to any advertising, marketing, PR or HR campaign…especially in difficult economic times, when resources are limited. If they are to survive, companies need to focus expenditures on the right prospects in the right areas. They must identify need, “pain” and price points. They must analyze margins on specific goods and services and gear their communications toward attracting the customers to these profitable items. In short, they must do their homework.
Targeting is both art and science, and effective targeting requires research and effort. It’s not enough to hang a shingle and hope people will come to the shop. It’s not enough to build a web site and wait for orders. Well before the “grand opening” (preferably), businesses must KNOW who their ideal customers are, why these individuals need their products or services, why they are different or better than the competition and how they plan to reach and influence key prospects over time.
Targeting, repetition and exposure are the keys to great communications and recruiting campaigns. If a business fails to perform its due diligence on the targeting component, the entire equation is skewed–this will lead to wasted time, energy and resources…and eventually to another vacant storefront or unvisited web site!
Most start-ups fail. Data varies, but the numbers generally exceed 80% within the first three to five years of operation. Why does this pattern hold true in good times and bad? Business owners tend to know their own product or service, but generally have NO MARKETING EXPERTISE. And when they find out what business consultants or agencies charge, they balk immediately and choose to skip the most important meetings they will ever have.
Strategy must precede tactics. Do your homework. Get some help from experts if you know how to make a pizza but have never written a business plan. Identify your real target audience and have a well researched, cost effective strategy to reach them in a way that is consistent, memorable and persuasive.