Marketing Plan 101: Who’s Your Customer?
by TonyaWilson, Former Guest Blogger
- Created: January 12, 2012, 6:34 am
- Updated: April 30, 2012, 6:59 pm
In recent weeks, I’ve met with a couple of small business clients seeking to establish social media marketing strategies. On each occasion, we sat down and I asked them questions about their business and their primary customer. While they could have talked for hours about their product, its benefits and how superior it is to all others, my request to describe specifically who their customer is was met with hesitance and sometimes complete silence. Cue the crickets. At this point, let’s forget about the social media marketing strategy that was requested. To sell your product via any channel, you have to know to whom you are selling. For this, research is needed. Start with your educated guess. Your product is a lotion. Who’s your customer? Anyone who has skin, right? Wrong. You have to get more specific. Is the product for men or women? Of what age: babies, tweens, teenagers or adults? Is it primarily for someone with extremely dry skin, or is it fragrant and meant to be worn as a scent similar to a perfume or cologne? Would it be found on the shelves of Target or sold at the cosmetic counters of Nordstrom or Saks? Your answer to these questions will drive your marketing efforts. You can start finding those answers by researching your customers by demographic, psychographic, and geographic segmentation:
- Age, family size, family life cycle, gender, income, occupation, education, religion, race, generation, nationality, and social class
- Find it at http://www.census.gov/people*
- Psychological / personality traits, lifestyle, or values
- Find it at http://www.strategicbusinessinsights.com/vals/ustypes.shtml*
- Countries, nations, states, regions, cities, counties, neighborhoods
- Find it at http://www.claritas.com/MyBestSegments/Default.jsp*
Demographics will help you put a face with your product; psychographics will help you get to know the person to which that face is attached; and the geographic information will tell you where to find them. Your customer is your new BFF. Get to know them well. Beyond the industry, go to sites I mentioned above. Don’t overlook the outstanding resource you have in your local library. The research librarians would love for you to chat with them. Many library systems have tons of research databases that are available online using your library card. A great example is the Columbus Metropolitan Libraryhere in Columbus, Ohio. Look to your local library for similar assistance. The process of defining your target market only begins here. Check out my post next month and we’ll move on to Part 2, where I’ll discuss consumer behavior and the levels of market segmentation. Now jot down your target market best guess and start that research!
About the AuthorAs a member of the Ohio SBDC at Columbus State, we provide entrepreneurial development assistance and business consulting to start-up, emerging, and existing business owners. In addition to one-on-on advising, we create, coordinate and promote programs and events to inspire, educate and engage individuals who wish to start or grow a small business.
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