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Who are your people?


If you are an entrepreneur looking to start or grow your small business, you should be continually asking yourself that question. Not only that, but also: who is interested in your topic or, ideally, passionate about it? Who needs what you’re offering?

There is no point in marketing your services to anyone and everyone – that is the fastest way to blow through your marketing budget while experiencing disappointing returns.


The key to a successful marketing strategy is to target your efforts to a specific, focused group that is highly likely to take action. Click To Tweet



Why is Target Marketing Important?

If we look at the top 5 reasons a small business fails, you’ll see that irrelevance, cash flow problems, the wrong team and being outcompeted all sound the death knell for a business.


Infographic from Insurance Quotes on the Top 5 reasons businesses fail

Let’s look at what I call the 4 Horses of the Apocalypse for small businesses in a bit more detail:

1. Not Enough Revenue

29% of failing businesses ran out of cash. 82% experienced cash flow problems.

As you can see, the number one reason that businesses fail is because they have a cash problem. Either the business is not earning enough cash or its earning it sporadically, and expenses are outpacing the speed of cash coming in.

This could be for a number of reasons, including not getting enough customers, not getting enough of the right kind of customers and poor expense management.

What this means is that spending your valuable marketing budget targeting the wrong people could cause you to go out of business.

2. Irrelevant

42% of businesses failed because there wasn’t a market for their offering

The second issue is that there is no market need for the product or service that failing businesses are offering. Now, obviously this is a problem that can happen quite easily for an untested start-up. But even established businesses may fail to register changing market needs, and get left behind.

This is why it is critical to have a clear idea of who your market is, and what it wants or needs. You need to make sure that what you are selling is valuable not only to you, but also to the people you are counting on to buy it.

3. Didn’t Have the Right Team

23% of failed businesses didn’t have the right team in place

This could be across the board in terms of management, services and sales, but for our purposes we are going to focus on the marketing aspect.

If your marketing team is not delivering tangible results that positively affect your bottom line, then you have the wrong team.

Ideally you should have short, mid and long term targets to track and achieve, all of which should be shown to contribute something towards increasing profit.

4. Outcompeted

19% of failed businesses were outcompeted

The good news is that they were offering something that the market wanted. The bad news is that their competitors out-performed them in marketing and / or delivery, gaining more market share to the point where the failed businesses were actually squeezed out.

Rather than go head to head against a competitor, it’s a good idea to carve out a specific, targeted niche within your larger industry, establish ambitious marketing and delivery targets, and hit them hard.

That way you create a space that you dominate, providing protection against being outcompeted. You will also be delivering exceptional value to your clients which in turn will build loyalty.

As you can see, all of the above issues could have been avoided by strategically targeting the right market, having the right team in place and delivering what the target market needed and wanted.

The failure rates of new and small businesses are notoriously high.

To make sure you stay in the small percentage of businesses that make it, follow the 4 steps below to develop a target marketing plan.

4 Steps To Identify Your Target Market

Identify and connect with your audience so that what you deliver is relevant, valuable, and grows your business.

Step 1: Identify Your Passion

If you are in business, and are going to be spending a long time working in a particular field it should be something you are knowledgeable and passionate about (ideally both, but at the very least you should be passionate about it, and excited to learn more).

We’ve all heard the mantra “live your passion” and while it’s true that it has become a bit of a cliché, it has become one for a reason. Mostly because you need to have some innate interest and curiosity to fuel you through the long hard hours that you will slog through to build your business.

But for the purposes of target marketing your personal interest and passion in an industry is key because it will automatically give you a connection and affinity with your target market.

You represent “your people”, the group of people you would like to reach and connect with. You will intuitively understand their needs, wants, fears and desires and be able to speak to them.

Not only that, but that genuine interest will help you form authentic connections with your audience – helping to build trust and making people more likely to want to buy from you.

Step 2: Build a community around that passion

This is the part where you have to be really focused.

It can be tempting to want to go broad, as you don’t want to miss out on business. But if the message is designed to speak to everyone, it ends up diluted, and gets very little engagement. What you want to do is create content that deeply resonates with people, so that when they look at it they go, “that’s me!”

So narrow your focus.

For example, if you are a custom home builder,  “anyone that wants to build or renovate a house” is a start. But in what neighbourhood? Then, what is the demographic breakdown of your neighbourhood? Singles? Young families? Professionals with teenage children? Empty nesters? Retirees?

What is their buying power? What are their spending habits? Hobbies?

Figure out who the main demographic is in your target area, then create your content for them. Specialise in their concerns and needs.

Keep filtering down until you find the sweet spot of “highly interested” people that are also “able to buy” your product (i.e. you are able to give them something that meets their need or feeds their passion and meets their budget)

Not sure where to find this community? Leverage online forums, social media, blogs, and so on. See what your competitors are doing. Build a facebook audience that draws from people that follow your competitors. Then examine their demographics to learn more about them, e.g. How old are they? What is the gender ratio? Where are they based?

This will give you a macro view of your audience.

For a micro view, If possible, find out what is the most popular product your competitors sell, when they sell it, how much it costs, how much they sell it for, and so on. Do a deep dive. If you can, it is a good idea to buy your competitors’ products yourself and deeply analyse every step of the sales and delivery process.

Then focus your marketing efforts and dollars.

As shown by the statistics above, going head to head against your competitors may not be the best idea. Instead, find a target niche within the larger industry where you can carve out a piece of the market that is all your own. For example if you are a custom home builder you might want to narrow your focus down to retrofitting homes for the elderly. Or delivering ecologically responsible custom home renovations for young families. Or just become the go-to builder for a specific neighbourhood. This is where your passion and interest will be helpful to guide you.

Step 3: Ask them what they want!

Don’t spend countless hours creating a dream product or service only to release it to crickets.

Even though (if you are doing things right and operating from your passion) you are representing your people, what seems important and exciting to you may not be so for others.

Businesses do not operate and cannot survive in a vacuum. You need to make sure that whatever you create fills a need. To find out what your audience needs, the best thing to do is ask them.

Find out what bugs them about a product or service similar to yours. What they wish they had. What they rely on.

You can ask people in social media, in forum, by email, via questions in your blog, at the cash register as people buy from you. You can ask a simple question or ask people to fill out a survey.

Do whatever suits your particular situation, but the important thing is to have a conversation, so you can figure out what people want.

Step 4: Give it to them

Once you know what your target market wants, build it and sell it to them.

By asking your audience what they want then giving it to them, you instantly have a rock solid value proposition.

Create your product or service. But don’t stop there. Do a beta launch and ask your audience for feedback. Make improvements based on what you learn.

This is also a good point to ask your family and friends to test run your product or service for you. They can provide useful feedback and may even make some suggestions for possible uses or markets that you would not otherwise have imagined.

Target Marketing Can Save Your Business

So there you have it. By going through the above process and getting to know your audience, you will have created something truly useful for them.

During this process you will hopefully have picked up language and ideas that they have in common to make it easier for them to see the connection between what they need and what you are offering, reducing friction in the buying process.

You are also well on your way to avoiding the 4 Horses of the Apocalypse for new and small businesses simply by being relevant.

That is, by speaking to a specific group and offering them something valuable that is tailored uniquely to them, your chances for getting more conversions and customers is considerably higher.

Support your efforts by making sure you have the right research, marketing and delivery teams together so that you can dominate your niche in both brand awareness and delivery, and you will be well on your way generating more revenue. 

In keeping with the message of this post, I’m going to close with a question –


What is the one thing you you feel is most important for your business in terms of marketing?

Let me know in the comments below!

And remember, if you like this post and found it useful, please share it with your friends.



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