In business, no matter what product or service you offer, determining where you sit in the market is a key factor in determining your future success. Who is it you’re marketing to? Specifically?
I’m surprised at the number of times a client will tell me that everyone is their market and that anyone – male, female; young, old; rich, poor – can use their product or service. Yes, while that would be ideal, it’s not the best marketing strategy. While we’d all love to be everything to everyone, it’s just not smart business. It’s very hard to market effectively to a 20-year-old female, her dad and his uncle, all at the same time – particularly with scare resources such as an advertising budget and manpower. You need boundaries. A core demographic. Even if your offering can be used by everyone.
For example, a surf magazine is aimed at surfers. Yes, the occasional friend who doesn’t surf may pick it up, or someone waiting for an appointment somewhere may pick it up off the coffee table and thumb through it. But while the friend and the appointment-waiter can both read and enjoy the pictures, they are not the core market.
Another example. Everyone is in the market for banking services. (Well let’s say 98% in case some still hide their savings under their mattress.) All banks offer pretty much the same services: savings accounts, everyday accounts, business accounts, loans etc. But is their marketing targeting every single person in NZ? No, not if you look closely. One might run ads for first home loans, featuring 20-something couples in the hope of cornering that market. Another may advertise their innovative apps and technology advancements, targeting the more tech savvy consumer who wants a progressive bank. Another will shout about their low prices and new rates, effectively talking to those consumers who are led by cost.
Clothing is another example. Yes, everyone wears clothes. Yes, all women could wear clothing from a certain brand – but they won’t, so you’d be foolish to try to market to all women as a whole. Women (and men) will buy clothing based on many different factors, including their age, needs, personal style and the price.
Once you know exactly who you are talking to, communication and marketing become much simpler.
I recently read an interesting article on Jessica Simpson’s retail business – how she (and her slew of retail experts) have quickly built a billion $ plus brand. (You can read it here.) One thing really stood out to me: their strategy. In particular, their pricing strategy. Instead of marketing the Jessica Simpson clothing line to every woman out there, they made a clear line in the ground with the pricing they chose and the retailers they chose to supply. Yes, they chose the target with the most consumers in it (a very wide target), but nonetheless, a target with boundaries.
The article said:
“”It’s a moderate brand and most of America is a moderate consumer. The key here is moderate pricing in moderate stores, offering good fashion on a consistent basis. It sells to the middle-class consumer in Middle America that is looking to the department store to tell them which brands are fashionable.”
The lesson being that Jessica and her team knew exactly who they were selling to. They didn’t try to overstep the mark into a pricier, more “fashion forward” area but they also knew the value they had in Jessica being the face of it and that they could ask a bit more than other chain-store ranges as a result.
Ask yourself: does your pricing reflect the market you are targeting? Do your outlets/website/retailers/salespeople reflect the market you are targeting? Or are you sending a mixed message about who your product/service is for and therefore muddying your marketing message? How can you fix that?
Define your target market. Put some boundaries around it. (This doesn’t mean that you won’t sell to these people, of course, but that you won’t dilute your marketing by trying to include them.) I suggest to business coaching clients that they come up with some people that represent their customers. If you all know someone that fits that target, great, use them. If not, make a few up. Give them names and characteristics to personalise it. It might be thirty-somethings Rachel and Ben who have owned their own home for a few years, are looking to upsize a bit because they have a growing family, who both work and spend their weekend doing family activities around Auckland. Now refer back to Rachel and Ben whenever you come up with a new offering or ad campaign or marketing drive – would Rachel and Ben be interested? Does this reflect who they are and what they want? Having a “visual” on your target market can really clarify your decisions and marketing efforts.