- Decide on your target market.
Everything you do, from making a product or delivering a service to deciding on your marketing strategy should be centered on your ideal customer.
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”
This is a famous quote is attributed to many different people, Mahtma Ghandi, Leon Leonwood Bean (L.L. Bean), and most likely, Kenneth B. Elliott who was the Vice President in Charge of Sales for The Studebaker Corporation.
So how do you decide on what your target market is? Personal fulfillment, value to the marketplace and profitability. Things to ask yourself:
What is my favorite type of customer to work with?
What is the value to the marketplace of my product or service?
What is the profitability of my product or service to that particular market segment?
Most likely, the answer to these questions will narrow your focus to a smaller market segment than you had originally thought. Don’t be nervous. As a small business your market segment should also be small. You want to make sure your voice is heard loud and clear and not drowned out by larger, less laser-focused competition.
- Create a profile of your ideal customer.
Dig in to all the details that you can think of for your ideal customer. For B2B businesses, think about the person most likely to initiate contact (whether on a web search, visiting your store, or calling on the phone), and who is likely to make the purchasing decision.
How old are they? What do they do during the course of their workday? What do they do for fun? What kind of family dynamic do they have? What is the most important thing to them? What do they do for fun? Are they animal lovers? Are they health conscious, work out at the gym? Do they get involved in their communities, donate time or money to charities?
Really define a character that becomes the story of your customer. This will focus your marketing strategy, making it much more effective than the “cast a large net and see what swims in” approach.
- Solve a problem for your customer.
Now that you know exactly who your customer is, you’ll have a better understanding of what issues they have and how your product can solve that problem. That “how” is the beginning of what will differentiate you from the competition.
Your unique selling proposition should not be quality or customer service. Those are things that get customers to stay.
Here are some great examples of USPs for small businesses:
“Boxed water is better.” – Boxed Water. This is automatically going to get you (the consumer) to ask why. You’re going to ask why because you’ve probably never bought water in a box before. Now, boxed water is not more convenient for the consumer. Rectangle containers are not designed to fit in cup holders. The product (and the USP) is designed to appeal to consumers who are environmentally conscious and interested in purchasing products designed to reduce their carbon footprint. Bottled water, while convenient, produces millions of tons of waste every year. Boxed water has solved this problem by using recycled and recyclable materials for their packaging. They also donate profits to a “retreeing” project.
“Everything you love about golf, without the attitude.” – Southers Marsh Golf Club. This small golf club in Plymouth, MA speaks directly to those who love the game and hate the pretense. There happen to be 8 other golf courses in Plymouth, MA so there is a lot of competition in a small area. While most country clubs and golf clubs cater to business executives who’d like to network, or guests looking for an exclusive social scene, Southers Marsh has distinguished itself by catering to those who are looking for something completely different.
While the unique selling proposition is something that you should develop early on, you can see you need a fully baked strategy to really make it effective.