LOGAN WEDGWOOD EXPLAINS WHY YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER SHOULD SIT AT THE CENTRE OF ALL YOUR BUSINESS DECISIONS, AND RIGHT THROUGHOUT THE VALUE CHAIN.
IT’S MY BELIEF that there are some vital misunderstandings surrounding what a target market customer is, why you need one, and what having one then means for the decisions you make as a business person.
Too often, we see too much of that good old Kiwi attitude: “What do we need this soft stuff for? We’ll sell to whoever we can!”
Your target customer is not just a marketing ‘nice to have’; they should be at the core of every business decision you make. It’s not just about what font you use for your tagline, or what images you use in your advertisements either.
Your target customer should sit at the centre of all your business decisions, throughout the value chain – from customer service to operations, technology choices to sales and marketing – to ensure you are delivering the best possible experience for your market.
HONING IN ON YOUR TARGET
You might well be sitting there thinking that your target market customer is not immediately apparent. I’ve heard countless times an answer along the lines of: “Well, we sell to this customer, that customer over there and this customer here…” – which is typical of many New Zealand businesses trying to make a fist of things.
It’s great to have a range of customers – however, to make the most effective decisions, you need to drill down to determine exactly who you are talking to; who your business primarily exists to serve.
To get you started, here are three questions to begin breaking open your perceptions of who your target market customer really is.
1. What “life stage” are they at?
Life upheavals happen during major life stages – ie: for school leavers, university graduates, those setting out on their OE, expats, first home buyers, people getting married or starting a family or a business of their own.
Consider what stage your target market customer might be experiencing. How might this affect their cashflow or decision-making? How might it impact on their time? And could these things create a reason to buy from you, or one that stops them buying from you?
2. What are their values?
Do they care about the environment? Do they battle with stereotypes? Do they value material possessions? Are they passionate about their religious beliefs?
These things affect their perception of you based on how you do business and how you advertise what you do. Get it wrong and your ideal customers will turn off right away. Get it right and you have the starting blocks to building customer loyalty.
3. Where do they live?
This one might seem basic, but I assure you it’s critical. Your business simply cannot deploy resources everywhere. So, if you want to deliver a superior experience to your customers (one that’s better than your competitors) you have to make choices about who you will service and who you won’t. It’s all about allocation of resource. Do you have the lion’s share of your local market? If not, why spend time and money trying to break into a bigger market with more competition?
And if you do go fishing offshore, are you logistically set up to deliver?
DEFINE YOUR CUSTOMER
Whatever your answers are above, your target customer is important – and it’s easy to see how costly it can be to focus in the wrong places.
If you do one thing following this article, take the time to better define your customer and then use this definition as the cornerstone to make better business decisions.