Business is all about customers. If you have no customers you have no business. You can have the best product in the world, – but if no one wants to pay hard cash for it then you simply have no business.
That is why marketing begins with the identification of what the customer needs. And, for you to be able to do any credible research on customers` needs, you will need to first identify who those customers are.
You are not trying to serve the whole world. Hence it is critical to know who your business will be targeting as your potential customers. Failing to do so could have catastrophic consequences for your future business.
That`s because if you do not know who your customers are, you cant serve them efficiently. And there is certainly no way you will be able to plan your marketing and selling activities effectively.
Product And Target Market
Your target market is directly related to your products. Therefore the best starting point is to define the product that you want to sell. If you plan to retail existing products then this process will be slightly easier than if you are trying to come up with a whole new product.
If you are merely trying to retail a product that already exists then chances are there is already a market for it. There are people already on the market who sell that product and so all you have to do is identify the customers that buy the product.
However, if you are planning to start a new product line or service that has not previously been known on the market, then you will require a whole lot more information from your market research.
You will want extensive information about what the customers` needs are. Once you identify the customer`s needs, you can then use that information to create a bundle of benefits and solutions for the customer`s enjoyment and satisfaction. In other words, you create a product for the customer to buy.
Whatever your situation, once you have created the product the next step is to then communicate to the customer about what you have to offer. As I said earlier, for you to do this effectively, you will need to determine and establish your targeted customers.
Potential Target Market
A potential target market has a variety of elements. Every Marketing book you read will have a different combination of the elements that make up a potential target market.
However generally acceptable characteristics of a target market include; gender, age group, race, population, location, and income level. These factors will be extremely important when you start planning your marketing activities.
Therefore market research will play a crucial role in your target customers` investigation. Now let me discuss with you the elements that I have just mentioned which make up a potential target market.
This discussion will help you understand how these factors will influence your product, marketing and selling strategies, messages, and activities.
Now, why is gender analysis important when considering your target market? Well, men and women respond to particular marketing information differently.
If you are trying to reach women with your marketing communication then you need to design it in a way that appeals to women. Most businesses these days use a lot of sexually charged information to communicate products to men.
This is because men tend to pay more attention to product commercials when they see a half-dressed beautiful woman in marketing communication. I know there are ethical issues that arise from adopting such means of marketing.
But the point that I am trying to make here is that men and women respond differently to marketing material. Some people will use animals such as puppies and cats in their commercial adverts if they believe that their target market will be influenced to listen to what they have to sell.
Therefore it is of utmost significance for you as a business owner to know the gender of your target customers.
Everything you will do to service your customer will be influenced by this knowledge. Gender will influence even the way you sell to your customers.
If you are selling to women, you will need to have the right level of aggression in your sales pitch. Too aggressive and you easily intimidate customers.
How Gender Influences value delivery
Also, gender may have an influence on the way you package your product. The majority of men will not be moved by the use of scented tissues to wrap your products.
They will be more concerned about whether the product will solve their problem or not. Women, on the other hand, will consider everything about the way the product is packaged and presented and thus are more inclined to be flattered by scented tissues.
I am not trying to suggest that men will not care how you present your product to them or that women can be bought cheaply by simply presenting your products in a certain way. This is by no means a fact. I am simply trying to make a point.
No matter which gender you are trying to serve with your products, your priority must be to provide the best product that will truly satisfy the needs of the customer. Your products must be professionally packaged so as to be appealing that target customer.
Knowledge of the gender of your target market will give you crucial intelligence about how you can effectively reach your market with your marketing communication.
Your marketing message is one of the most important strategic tools you will have as a business. It is your message that will influence people to come and buy products from you.
Sending poor messages in your marketing communication will have a negative impact on your sales. It will be ineffective. Therefore in order for your marketing information to be effective, it will be very crucial for you to know the age of the people you will be targeting with your product information.
The information and message you will be conveying have to be appropriate for that targeted age group. For example, if you are selling toys, your target market will be kids and so your marketing information needs to be appealing to children.
Parents may be the ones who hold the purse but it is the kids who will decide what they want. Therefore you would, in that case, need to tone down on boring, marketing jargon and rather make your product information more playful.
You would also consider using a lot of product use demonstration in your adverts for kids to fully understand how the product works.
If your target market is elderly, your product information will also need to be communicated in such a way that will appeal to people of that particular age group.
Similarly, sexually charged product marketing information will not be appropriate for very young people and so you will need to communicate your product information to your market appropriately without causing offense.
Hence, in a nutshell, your marketing message must be appropriate for the relevant targeted age group and must provoke product interest in that group.
Race & Culture
You also need to have intelligence about the race and culture of your target market. Why is this essential? It is crucial because different races will respond differently to marketing information. Race and culture are sensitive issues and so if you do not use tact and caution in your marketing messages, then you may end up offending people.
For example, the Japanese place more significance on respect. And so if you are targeting the Japanese market you need to formulate your marketing communication accordingly. Study people and their cultures before you bombard them with your ads.
You can never overestimate the importance of racial and cultural intelligence as a strategic marketing tool.
Knowledge of population statistics is also very critical. You need to know your target population numbers if you are going to plan your marketing activity effectively.
By knowing how many potential customers are within a certain catchment area, you will have an idea of the potential sales total you are likely to achieve within a specific period.
Therefore you can plan your sales projections with a higher level of reliability. More so if you know the number of sales you are likely to gain from a certain population, then you can decide the maximum amount you would wish to spend on marketing and advertising activities directed at that particular market.
For example, if you expect that the population of your target market in a certain region will generate in say £30,000 per year, it would be foolish to spend anywhere close to or over that amount in marketing activities.
Therefore knowing the population of your target market will help you plan for your overall business activities much more efficiently.
This should be an obvious one for you. If you know where your customers are located then you will only need to decide how you will get to them.
You can then take your marketing message to the right locations where your customers are found in large numbers. Knowing your target customer`s location can help you gain a deeper understanding of what their needs are through closer ties and relationships.
If you know the proximity of your potential customers, you can also make decisions about possibly relocating your business so you can be even closer to your customers.
One of the issues that arise in marketing is that of price. How do you price your product? Price it too high and your customers won`t afford, price it too little and you lose money.
While the cost of the product to you will provide a good guide as to how much you can then ask for, from your customers, knowledge about the income group of your customers is also just as critical.
It can give you an idea of how much your potential customer is likely to afford to pay for your products. Income level can also give you an idea of how a potential customer is likely to behave in relation to the product price.
For example, if you are selling to high-income groups, pricing your product cheaply may give the impression that your product is of poor quality, whereas the low-income group may welcome such a pricing model.
Therefore a good understanding of your target market`s income profile can give you significant leverage when it comes to pricing decisions.
Before you start any business, identifying your target market if one of the first thing you will certainly need to do, and also do it right.
I hope this article has provided you with important insight and information about how you can identify a potential market.
Good luck with getting a better understanding of your potential customers, and I hope that it will result in better relationships between your organization and them, and ultimately, business success.