A lot of us have the ability to captivate the world through entrepreneurship. However, prior to conquering a global audience, it is ideal to identify your purpose and target market. Carolyn shares her insights on what a target market is and how to identify your own market, specifically for midsize companies. While it is necessary to know how your customers found you and why they decided to choose your company, understanding your competition and data collection are also necessary for audience identification.
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Gaining Focus For Your Business
We’ve already moved our clocks forward. It’s insane. It was my daughter’s wedding shower. I’m so excited. It was so much fun. Things are getting real. The wedding is in Mexico. We’re going to have some fun. This is our first child to get married. Those of you out there that have kids, isn’t it crazy to think that they’re old enough to get married? Does that mean I’m getting older? There’s no way. I’m still in denial. That’s it. We had a great discussion on the difference between coaching and mentoring. It’s an important topic because if you think about what’s important in the world, this high competition, it’s a way to stand out. What is your differentiator as a company, as an individual? Most companies have a competitor out there that has the exact same products that they do. Consumers have choices. In my business, there are so many places you can go to find a speaker or a trainer to help improve your skill set. How do you pick one company from the next? How do you choose? It’s a lot different than it was in the past because now it’s all about that five-star review. We read reviews from people who we don’t know and use their opinions to help us make our decisions. We ask for references to find out how a different customer thought of your service. What did we do? We ask other people.
The customer has all the power because they have choices. Their choices are at their fingertips. That’s what’s changed. We always had choices, but now it’s so different from the digital environment. You can look up so many different things. Before it was a lot more difficult to figure out what other customers thought. You’d have to go and search and look and seek them out. Now you press one click of the mouse and you have hundreds of reviews at your fingertips. Those reviews or testimonials are the “make it or break it” for companies. That’s why coaching and mentoring in companies is so important and not even just in companies.
Coaching and mentoring is important regardless of where you sit. If you have your own business, you can still have a coach and a mentor. Don’t think of it as, “I’m in my own business so I don’t get to have those things.” Everyone does. When you think about what it is, it’s building skills that people need to be successful. When you think of coaching, it’s learning new skills. You’re helping someone to either change a behavior or habit, something that they do or they’re learning something totally new altogether. A coach usually does have direct responsibility for how that person performs. They’re helping them along the way. In companies, it’s usually a short-term assignment. In teams, if you’re on a specific team, it’s usually a short-term assignment based on how long you either stay in that position in the company or stay on that team if you’re working on a team. When you switch, you gain a different coach. That’s what we said coaching was all about.Customers are powerful because their choices are at their fingertips. Click To Tweet
A mentor is different. A mentor does not have direct responsibility for that person. They’re outsiders. They help guide the person. They listen to them. They help them by allowing them to bounce ideas off of them. They act as a mirror for that person so that they can see things from a different point of view. A mentor asks those tough questions that make the person take an inward look at how they operate. Mentoring is usually more long-term. You’re not going to see results right away. It takes time. It’s powerful. Those who have mentors, you know who you are, you feel lucky. All of us think of it as linked to how people can help themselves succeed. It’s a self-help thing. You go out and you look for your mentor. You can even look for a coach to help you along the way, especially if you’re not in a company environment. If you are in a company environment and you are looking to build your company and differentiate yourself in the marketplace as a company, adding these types of programs show the people your most important asset, how valued they are.
When companies are thinking about what they need to do to attract the right employees, it’s important for them to focus on developing their employees. Coaching and mentoring are great ways for companies to show their employees that they’re important, that they’re valued, that they have a place to grow within that company. Our topic is also about differentiation. We’re going to talk about how to determine your target market. Whether you’re working for a large company, a small company or you have your own business, it’s critical to identify your target market. For most people, that’s difficult to do. I know from experience that it was not easy.
Defining Your Target Market
We’ll identify first what a target market is. We’ll break down the steps to gaining the focus needed to pinpoint your target market to get it to such a degree that you’re truly focused and truly specific. We’ll talk about why is that so important. The name of the episode now is Gaining Focus for Your Business. You gain focus on your business by fully understanding what your business is all about. If you have anything to talk about in terms of focusing your business, creating a target market, the call-in number is (866) 451-1451.
Whether you work in a large corporation, a small business, you started your own company or you’re an entrepreneur, we’ve got to start out with what is the target market. It’s a particular group of consumers for which your product or service is aimed. You’re focusing on those people that are going to buy your product. It does not mean that you’re excluding other people who may want your product or service, even though they aren’t in your target market. That is the biggest issue when people get hung up on narrowing their focus. When I started my company a few years ago, it was my problem. I didn’t want to narrow my focus too much because I thought that there were so many people who can benefit from what I deliver. The bottom line is it’s important to create your sweet spot.
Target marketing is where you’re going to focus your marketing dollars. It doesn’t mean you can’t sell to anybody. You’re focusing your marketing dollars on those people that are more apt to buy your product or service. You want to spend your money wisely. You target your message to the people who will buy your service. If you do a mass marketing approach, think about how many people are not going to buy your product. It’s not something that they’re going to need or want. You’d be wasting a lot of money on people who have no intention of using what you’re offering. That’s why you have to narrow your focus.
For example, I do communications training. In my mind, I think that every single person out there can benefit from communications training. We all communicate every day. If we could enhance those skills, wouldn’t that be great? It would. My real target market for what I’m doing for my training is midsize companies. Why is it midsize companies? Midsize companies don’t typically have an internal training team. If they do, maybe it’s one person. They go out and look for companies to provide them with that type of training. They’re a perfect fit for my communications training. When I do marketing for that type of training, I’m going to tailor it and focus on midsize companies. It doesn’t mean that larger companies can’t benefit from my training. If a larger company wanted to buy my training, they could. I just wouldn’t be outwardly marketing to those larger companies because they typically have an in-house training team that would develop their own training. They’re not usually going to go outside for that type of training. You’re not eliminating people from buying your product or service. You’re just focusing your brand on those that will want to buy and use your product or service. How do we get started? Where do we begin?The message that identifies your brand is a critical element in marketing, thereby choosing the right words is non-negotiable. Click To Tweet
Step one is going to start with your current customers. Who is buying your product? Are there things that all your customers have in common? Which customers bring you the most business? You should go as far as to break it down by customer demographics as much as you can, age, location, gender, occupation, industry, company size, all those types of things that you can break down. The more specific you get, the more targeted your message could be, the apter you are to spend those dollars wisely and focus your efforts on people that are going to be interested in what you’re selling and offering.
For my training products, these are some examples of how I broke it down. You do a deep dive into your current customers to uncover what made them choose you. How did they even find you? Was it that they Googled you and found your name first on the list? Was it that somebody told them about your company? You need to find out how you’re getting your current customers. You need to find out why they made their decision to use your company. The more information you have, the better off you are. You can capitalize on it. You can use it in the future to help you focus even greater on those people that are more apt to buy your products and services. All of those things come into play. You want to make sure that you’re doing that deep dive to get as specific and as niche as you can possibly get.
Doing Market Research
Step two is to understand your competition. What do they offer? How does it compare to what your products and services are? How do you compare on price and value? Look at the customers that they’re targeting. Is there a different niche that they’re missing? If so, that might be a great place to start because that market may be wide open. How is your product or service better than the competition? How can you get that message out there? This phase is all about gathering the data through market research. Have you done the market research? Think about it. There are a lot of people who skipped this step. It is a big mistake. When I first started my business, I skipped it. I had to backtrack and redo it. Market research helps you with steps one and two, the competition. It validates and confirms both the makeup of your customers. It also looks at your competition. A good market research plan tells you where and who your customers are. It also tells you when they’re most likely and willing to purchase your products or services. You can use the market research plan to create a full-blown marketing plan or identify whether the current plan that you have is working or not. It’s useful. How do you do it? You can hire a company to do it for you or you can do it yourself.
Some of the ways in which to collect the data are you use surveys, interviews and focus groups on collecting the data. You have to target the right people in these groups. These people should either have used your product or service, used something like that or they should be decision makers so that they can provide you with the insight that you need. We are trying to collect and analyze this data. To do this, we talked about market research. That’s what this is all about. The first step is talking to your existing customers. Determine why and how they chose your company. You also want to ensure that you have some customers that did not choose your company and find out why not. What was missing? Here are a few examples of a list of some questions that you could use in collecting this data.
What factors do you consider when purchasing this product or service? These are questions that you’re asking people, whether they’re customers or whether they chose not to use your service, but they got it from someplace else. What do you like or dislike about the current products or services on the market? What you’re trying to find out there is what’s working well but what’s missing in their mind that if you could satisfy that need, you’d be fabulous because it’s not out there? What areas would you suggest for improvement? Especially with current customers, you’re asking them, “Is there a way in which I can do things better to make it better for you and to satisfy all of your needs?” How about the price? What’s the appropriate price for a product or service like this? Did you feel like the price was fair? Did you feel like the price was high? Did you feel like the price was low? You’re collecting data. They’re going to give you some insight as to how they made some of these choices.
When you think about it, by getting these questions answered, you’re getting direct insight from those people that either have bought or would buy your product or service. You can see then how you match up with what their needs are. No small business can get away with not doing this market research. They won’t survive. The competition is way too fierce out there. Consumers have way too many options to choose from. Market research is invaluable. There are some things to look out for. Sometimes we’re strapped for cash, we’re on a tight deadline, and so we only look at the information that already exists out there. We go to the internet. We look for research studies that have already been conducted. They’re posted. You look at trade journals. It’s not your data. It could be old data. It could be that things have changed and some of it is no longer valid or valued to the customers.We have to get focused on determining who our customers are and who they are not by narrowing down our target. Click To Tweet
You don’t want to stick with that type of research. It’s a great place to start, but you need to do your own research. If you can’t do it yourself, you can pay some other people to do it for you. This is your business. You want to feel good about the data. You want to use this data to grow your business. Collecting the right data is critical. Sometimes people cut corners and they only survey current customers. It’s important to find out other people who are not your customers. Sometimes our current customers can be biased. They already love us. They’ve used us in the past. They love our services. They use us again. You want to make sure that you’re getting a full array of different types of people, different decision makers, so that you’re getting the right data, especially those people who saw you. Maybe you even made a proposal for them and they chose to go someplace else. You want to find out why. You want to be able to understand what was missing in their eyes.
Sometimes you don’t have what they’re looking for and that’s fine. You can either choose to get it or you can choose that’s not your core competency and you’re going to let it go. Sometimes they go someplace else because your message wasn’t clear enough to them. They didn’t understand that you had what they needed. That’s why they went someplace else. That is invaluable information to have. That’s market research. You want to make sure that you do not skip this step. Now you’ve done your market research. You know what is important to your current customers and to your potential customers. You have to figure out how do we get that message across. How do we connect with our customers through marketing? If you’ve selected the right market, you’ve narrowed it down enough to maintain that specific focus, now you’re ready to identify your brand. How are you different? What words will best describe to your customers the benefit of doing business with you or buying your product or service? The messaging becomes the critical element. Choosing the right words you’ll find is non-negotiable. I’m going to share those branding words with you.
Crafting Your Values
Now you have to start branding yourself. How do you differentiate yourself from your competition? What words would you choose to describe your company and its values to your customers? We talked about communication in detail on other shows and a little bit on this one. Words are very important. You have to choose the right words, the ones that will resonate with your customers. When you’re thinking about your brand and how do you want to reach your customers, think about it in a way that they will want to hear it. You must put yourself in their shoes. Let’s do a little exercise. I want you to think about six or seven words that describe your company values. Let me give you an example and share with you mine so that you get the idea.
My company is CJR Leadership Strategies. My service is to build skills for people that will help them achieve more than they ever thought possible. I do that by providing opportunities for them to learn. Whether I’m delivering a speech or a training workshop, I provide these real-life examples of things that work and that don’t. I’ve worked in Corporate America for many years running and learning in development organizations for companies. I used my experience on the show Survivor to show that skills that we use are similar, whether you’re on a deserted island or whether you’re in the boardroom. Here are the values that I have for my company. The first is quality. What does quality mean? It means to exceed customers’ expectations every day. You must do whatever it takes every single day, whatever is necessary to make the customer happy and to be consistent. Consistency is the key to success. This is a value that I have for myself every single day. Whether it’s me delivering the program or anyone else representing my company, you don’t shortchange quality. Quality is non-negotiable. It’s a value that I take seriously.
Another value and why you should choose me is that I’m 100% customer-focused. I don’t just do off the shelf programs. I meet with my clients. I determine what they’re looking for. I identify what’s important to them and what they’re looking to gain from the training or the speech, and then I customize a program or a speech to support their specific needs. That’s customer-focused. It means customization. It means focusing on what is important to that individual customer. It means talking to those potential customers and understanding how their company works, finding out about what their challenges are, what they’re going through, identifying what’s working well and what isn’t. I’m talking to all different people within the company so you can get all different viewpoints. The second quality is customer-focused.
Another one is service-oriented. It means to be flexible. It means to gather feedback. It means to solve problems. Many times, you’re working with a company or a person and they have these specific needs. You put a program in place to support what they’re looking for. Afterward, I always ask, “How did it go? What’d you think?” I want to ensure that they felt like they got everything that they were looking for and more. This is a way for me to check the perception of my clients and to get some feedback from them on the things that I need to improve upon. We all need to improve at times. You always want to be able to get better. This is a way to get feedback. Don’t ask the questions if you don’t want to hear the answer. It’s important either way, whether they loved it and it was great. I want to know that they loved it and why they loved it. If they hated it, I want to know why they hated it so I can fix it going forward. I always ask for feedback.Don't just talk to your current customers; talk to potential customers. Click To Tweet
Another value that I have from my company is this idea of forward thinking. Our environment is constantly changing. Nothing is staying the same. It is so important to constantly look for ways to learn and grow, to stay a leader in your industry, to ensure that you’re up to date on the latest and greatest of helping people succeed. I’m always looking into these industry-specific changes. Not only that, but I’m also looking at my customers’ industry. How is their industry changing? If you think about the banking industry, it’s changed tremendously. Nobody goes to the branch anymore. Everyone uses mobile banking. You can’t operate the same as a company. You can’t train the same either. You’ve got to think of ways in which you can give them examples of how their industry is changing as well. That’s another example of what I mean by these values and creating the right words for customers so that they understand what you’re all about.
Another value that’s important to my business is being reliable, delivering on my promise, showing up when I say I’m going to show up, calling when I say I’m going to call, starting programs on time and ending on time. In my business, people get upset if you screw up the times. The schedule is critical. This next one is one of my favorites because it’s one that I consider to be my differentiator. It’s results-oriented. I am focused on the bottom line. When people hire me, they’re looking to see people change. They’re looking to see people utilize these new skills that we’re working on. That’s one of the things that I track. I work with my clients to look at the results before the workshop and the results after the workshop so that I could show them the difference. One of the things that’s different for me is I’ve worked in sales. I’ve been on the front line. I know what it’s like to have to build that business. I know what they’re looking for. When I talk to these business leaders, they can see that I measure my results.
The last thing that’s important is creativity. Everything is not black and white, especially in my business. You have to create an environment where you’re always looking for the possibilities. Sometimes things get crazy. Having a creative philosophy helps to instill that same thing in my clients. It’s looking for ways to help them, to inspire them to find solutions, to create that atmosphere within their own companies. These are examples of values that I’ve created for my company. When you think about creating those same things for your company, you want to choose the words that are resonating with your business. Mine are quality, customer-focused, service-oriented, forward thinking, reliable, results-oriented, and creative. Those might not be the same for you. That’s fine. You have to create the ones that link to your business.
It’s time for you to think about your company. Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with these values, which is why I wanted to give you some examples of what they were for my company so that you would see that it’s not as difficult as sometimes we make it out to be. You have to determine what your company is all about, and what are the values that you want to have within your own company. These are those non-negotiable things that will never waver and you will never choose not to follow. Think about an amusement park, Disney, for example. They create these innovative experiences for their customers. If you go to one of their parks, the value that is non-negotiable is safety. They will never waver or choose to make something unsafe. That is a value that they have. The values you create for your company help you to describe what your customers will gain from doing business with you.
The Benefits Of Target Marketing
The last thing I wanted to discuss is why the target market is so important? If you have narrowed down your market, it’s going to be much easier for you to find your potential customers because you thought specifically about who they are and you’ve done your research to ensure that you’re right. You’ve validated it through your market research. Now all those marketing efforts will be focused on those specific customers, the ones who are going to buy your product. It’s not definitive, but they’re more apt to buy your product. It also helps customers find you. You need to know what they’re looking for. Since you’ve done that research, you know what they’re looking for, you can put those words on your website and you’ve made it very clear for them. When they come across your business, they can tell immediately that you’re the right company for them. It makes their decision-making so much easier. Everyone wants easy. The words you choose must resonate with them and show them that you can solve their problem.
Another clear benefit is that it will be much easier for you to get referrals. You can get referrals from existing clients. You can get referrals from friends and family. It’s much more difficult to get referrals if you say to somebody, “Share my business with anyone and everyone.” They’re not going to do that. They want to make sure that when they do refer, they’re referring to somebody who’s going to benefit because they don’t want to look bad. You have to think of it from their point of view as well. The more specific you are with what you do and how you do it and to who, the better off you’re going to be in terms of getting referrals. Have you ever gone to a networking group? I go to them all the time. You go around the table and they always ask you to in a minute or less to identify your business, what you do, and who is your target market. In those events, the whole purpose is to get referrals, to make sure that they understand what you do, who you are, and who’s going to benefit from your service or your product. It’s important to get this down.
Many people have the opportunity to be entrepreneurs. We have this global reach at our fingertips. Sometimes we don’t even know where our customers are coming from. We also know that the cost of doing business can be big. We have to get focused on determining who our customers are and who they are not. We have to narrow down our target. This is sometimes scary because we don’t want to eliminate any potential business. It gives us hives when we think about saying no to a potential customer. We’re not doing that. Target marketing doesn’t eliminate business. It makes you spend your marketing dollars in the most effective and efficient way possible. You don’t do this mass marketing campaign because it probably doesn’t work anyway.
The first thing we talked about is defining your target market. How do you do that? Start with your current customers. Who are they? What do they look like? Why are they interested in buying from you? You look at your competition. What do they offer? What customers are they going after? Do they sell the same products and services that you do? What is your differentiator? What about the price? Is it the same? Is it higher? Is it lower? You need to understand all of those things. We talked about the importance of doing market research, not just researching what’s on the web out there or what other people have done. You need to conduct your own research to ensure that you get exactly what you need. You can do a survey. You can do an interview. You can do focus groups. There are all different ways of collecting that data.
The key is to remember that you don’t just talk to your current customers. You talk to potential customers. You talk to those people that chose to go elsewhere and find out why. If they talk to you, the more insight you get, the better off you are. Why not? We talked about crafting your values. You’ve got to come up with five or seven words that tell people who you are and how you operate. I shared with you mine, but you’re going to need to come up with your own. The last thing we discussed is the benefits of target marketing. Getting focused helps you find the right customers, helps customers find you, and helps people give you your referrals. That’s the best source of business. In my business, referrals are the key. I hope this helps with your journey to building your business. It’s super exciting.
Soon we’re going to have another great show for you. I do this show so that I can provide you with value, things that you can take away and use right away. I’m always looking for topics that you’re interested in. Go ahead and follow me on Instagram @CarolynRivera14. I’m building up my Instagram, providing information there for all of you every day. I shared my values with you. My focus is on watching you succeed. Go to my website at CarolynJRivera.com for more content. Helping you achieve more than you ever thought possible, that’s what I’m all about. That’s what my specialty is. I always talk about believe, commit, achieve. That’s that mindset, the secret sauce that you’re looking for. This is Mama C signing off.