Sep 022011

By Emily M. Kelly, CEO of Rainmaker Consulting, Fairlawn, Ohio.

In the last issue, we talked about starting with a firm foundation driven by a vision [statement] for your business. This month, I want to talk with you about the next step in forecasting a strong business plan unique to your brand. And that starts with defining your target market.

I meet with small business owners on a regular basis and I am continually shocked at how few actually have in mind who their ideal customer is. A potential client told me recently, “I sell to commercial and residential, so everyone is my target market.” Statistics show that on average ONE in TEN small businesses have a defined target market. Of the other nine, six of them go out of business within the first year  – compelling evidence that should drive every small business owner to examine “who their ideal customer is.”

Don’t think of it as who COULD I sell to … think of it as “who do I WANT to sell to?” Who is the ideal person that needs what I have to offer, can afford it, will pay what I want to charge, on time and be grateful for my help? Many small business owners try to catch “everyone” and spend an enormous amount of time, energy, effort and money driving at the general population hoping to “catch” a client. I believe that you can spend less time, energy, effort and money by first defining who it is that you are trying to “catch.” I often say, if you think of marketing as a fishing trip, the target market is what kind of fish you want to catch, the branding is the lure, the message is the bait and the channels are the body of water you choose to “fish in”.

If you don’t care what kind of “fish you catch”, you can cast your line into the ocean all day and maybe you’ll catch something. But if you want to catch trout, it’s a whole lot easier when you go to a lake stocked with trout and use the bait and lure that trout like. Your results will be even more fruitful if you do it during their feeding time.

We will talk more next time about “where to fish,” “what bait to use” and when the “feeding times are” … but for now, I encourage you to evaluate who buys from your brand the most. What gender, what age, what geographic location, what lifestyle, what income level?  All of these criteria help you come up with your ideal client.

As always, I am wishing you all the very best. You can read more about Rainmaker’s Insights on my blog:

Emily Kelly, Fairlawn Chapter
CEO, Rainmaker Consulting

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