Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
Whether you sell cars or cartons of milk, you need to understand who your customers are if you want to build your client base. You need to know who your customers are, what they want and why they should go to you.
Step 1: Know What Problems You Solve
You need to be able to articulate what problem you’re trying to solve. If you’re a tire dealership, for instance, you’re trying to solve the problem of worn out tires on cars. Once you know what it is that you’re there to do, you can start working out who might benefit.
Step 2: Get To Know Your Customer
Build up a list of the people who you think could benefit from the problem you solve. Start defining their characteristics and putting them into groups. Break down the demographics into where they live, how much they earn and so on. You’ll also want to think about what sector of the economy your customers are most involved with. Is it manufacturing, retail, or something else? Then start really drilling down into data. Do your customers play golf? Do they drive nice cars? Do they have families? The answers to all these questions help determine where you market and how you address your customers.
Step 3: Get Their Attention
The next step is to grab the attention of your customers through whatever channels are necessary. If you want to advertise to someone who just bought a home, consider a mortgage mailing lists. A purchased list might break down information by credit score or by total household debt. If you are in the business of setting up a consulting firm, you could reach out to complementary firms in your industry for referrals. Make sure you think carefully about your niche and whom precisely you target. The internet has changed the nature of advertising in a fundamental way. No longer are small companies beholden to TV schedules. Instead, they can directly target customers through numerous channels. Small players can indeed be big fish in a small pond, so long as they get their niche right.
Step 4: Think About Internal Expertise
There’s a good chance that there’s already somebody out there who is providing the service that you want to provide and doing a good job of it. So the question you have to ask yourself is, what can you do better? It might be that you have a particular expertise in a certain location that your competitor does not. Or it could be that you are better at appealing to certain types of people. You could even have technical expertise in an area where a competitor does not. Think carefully about how these factors affect your business. Could you provide a niche service that they don’t? Let’s say that you want to start up an accountancy practice after graduating from college. Rather than working for a large national firm, consider joining a smaller, local accountant or starting your own solopreneurship.