This week’s post was written by Ray Sidney-Smith of W3Consulting, social media consultant and facilitator of the monthly Roundtable for the Alexandria SBDC.
On April 21st the Alexandria SBDC Business Development Roundtable tackled the evergreen topic of determining your target market. We started the conversation off with defining the target market.
Some of the responses were:
- “the people who want to buy your product”
- “customers that provide you the most business…repeat business”
- “different slices of all of the people who can buy from you”
Alexandria SBDC Business Analyst Jack Parker stated that it was important for you to work out whether they were a startup or a growing business. Startups sometimes have a more difficult time to identify their target market(s), and growing businesses have data about who they’ve done business with and can further refine their target market based on that.
Retail Architect Bridget Gaddis asked how to help someone define their target market when they haven’t successfully done it so far. Several people mentioned seeking guidance from marketing experts, including SBDC and SCORE counseling, and experimenting with different target markets until you find your ideal client profile.
After we discussed defining target market, we pivoted the conversation to this idea of refining your target market over time. Many times the target market you’ve identified and started marketing to infrequently are exactly the target market who ends up buying from you. It was important to many of the Small Business owners at the Roundtable to pay attention to the customer service experience and sales to decide whether certain target markets are right for their business. Over time, you learn to turn away certain kinds of business instead of other target audiences that fit your company well.
Others found that they started out with a larger target market and with good intentions to help that audience, but found that they weren’t ideal for them because of lack of funding to support their business. So, they needed to change course and work with a smaller market with larger budgets to be able to pay for their business. This gives the businesses opportunities to help lower-paying clients when they have time available, but being able to still pay the bills.
Target marketing is important not only for initial defining the marketing efforts of your business, but also, as several Roundtable participants noted, you need to continually take “snapshots” of your business. These snapshots help you take pause and review the state of your target market, mistakes and potential opportunities to grow into new target markets.
We rounded out the conversation discussing target marketing on the Web today. We chatted about collecting data from our visitors, paying attention to keywords (the specific, unique words people search Google to find your business, not just your business name), and searching social networks for data about our ideal target markets.
Next month we will be back at the Alexandria SBDC Roundtable with a discussion on “Time to Tune Up Your Branding.” As the mid-year approaches, this is the best time to re-assess your branding (visual, written and experiential) that’s happening in and around your business’ marketing efforts. So, on May 19th, bring a beverage or your lunch, grab a seat and join us for the next Roundtable to talk about branding in your Small Business.