You need to choose a target market for your product or service if you want to succeed in business. If you try to be all things to all people, you'll spread yourself too thin and fail over time. The key to success in business is to choose a target market and serve it well. Here's how:
Conduct Market Research
Figure out who needs what in the marketplace. What is the number one thing everyone keeps complaining about? Who is not getting their needs met in your local community or online? What are people searching for on Google or Yahoo? Looking for the answers to these questions is one way to conduct market research. It will give you ideas as to whether your product or service is viable. If less than 1,000 people a month are looking for your product or service using one of the search engines, you may need to choose a different target market. If you go to a forum with 40,000 members and half of them are complaining about a problem to which you're the solution, then you've got a good market on your hands that you need to explore further.
One place to start is with the Google Adwords Tool to find out how many people are searching for your product or service. You can also research how much of the search volume came from your state or city, and research trends on Google Insights.
Survey Your Customer Base
Once you've established that there's a need for your what you're offering, you should survey your target market. Ask them what they need and want. This can be as informal as asking them in person, at events or on the telephone. You can also send a survey via email to your potential customer base. Sometimes, you'll need to add an incentive in order to persuade them to send the survey back.
You could offer discounts, a free report or a free consultation to increase the number of responses you get back. The survey should be short, and not exceed one page if possible. Provide a combination of multiple choice questions and open questions that will allow them to provide a short written response. Your job in the survey is to ask questions that will draw out their problems and needs. It's not the time to tell them about your business.
Build on Your Past Experiences
Look for patterns in your prior work experiences as to what groups you like to work with. You won't serve people well if you don't like working with them, or don't have the qualifications or skills to meet their needs. A major part of choosing your target market is to work in areas that you're passionate about. Take the time to review your resume and think about the jobs you loved, and the ones you hated. What keeps coming up over and over again? Try to figure out the profile of your ideal clients or customers. Compare that to your market research and survey results.
Once you've completed these three exercises, you should have a solid idea of what your target market is. The next step is to work on promoting yourself to that market and delivering excellent customer service.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.