And the 1 question you need to answer to create a successful marketing strategy...
Want people to sit up and take notice of your product? Then get to know them. It’s all in the details, and this means making detailed customer personas. It means going niche.
There is a fallacy I often hear when I talk about niching down audiences to within an inch of their lives:
“If our target audience is too small, we will miss out on a load of potential customers.”
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Most companies need to start small. They need to find an audience that can’t live without their product, as that’s how you identify whether you have product-market fit. This validates what you are doing, and helps you establish a core customer base. This core customer base will influence your product development, in time enabling you to target the bigger audiences. This is why products have lifecycles.
Product-market fit : the degree to which a product satisfies a strong market demand.
This initial audience helps your brand and product develop. Worry about the mass market later. You need a core audience that validates your product, feeds back on what you could be doing better, and helps you develop a product that a larger majority will love.
So here’s an exercise on getting more granular with your target audience. It’s only one question. You may have to answer it several times, most companies do. Who are you selling to?
Sounds simple… maybe too simple? Or maybe so simple it’s actually quite hard? I’ll use an example company to show you how to get to a granular answer: an e-commerce retailer that sells monthly coffee subscriptions from award-winning roasters. Every month customers receive a personalised selection of coffees delivered straight to their door.
“Who are you selling to?”
“People who love their coffee and want to drink the very best, everyday.”
Okay, so I know the product is for coffee lovers, but there is little else to work with; the vagueness of the answer brings up questions itself. If yours looks anything like this (ie. it’s only 1 sentence), start questioning every assumption you’ve made. Here are some questions from our example case:
How do we measure someone who “loves their coffee”? - is it cups drank per day? - do they prioritise coffee over food? - do they explore new coffee shops at the weekend?
They want to drink the very best? Can’t they buy that at local shops and stores?
Why do these coffee lovers care about a subscription coffee service? What is the problem it solves for them?
After some customer soul searching, we came up with a more granular answer:
“Who are you selling to?”
“We sell to coffee enthusiasts who prioritise their morning coffee ritual. They see themselves as conscious consumers, and are swayed by high-quality ethical products. They currently pay for subscription services like Netflix and Spotify, so are comfortable with our pricing model. They traditionally buy their coffee from a retailer, but having recently experienced running out of coffee prior to their morning ritual - and the inconvenience of an unwanted shop visit to buy more - they want a solution to stop this happening again. They value time and convenience almost as much as their coffee.”
And now we have a granular answer.
The key is to keep asking yourself why you believe what you do about your customer. Every assumption you have about your customer, try and validate it. The answer above could be more detailed, and is only one example of a customer persona (I advise creating 3–5 to test) but it’s sufficient to start building a targeted marketing strategy, influencing:
How you communicate with your audience