Whether new in business or seeing a stall in your growth, it’s something you need to have a handle on.
I read recently that 42% of businesses fail because there is no market for what they are selling. In other words, they aren’t solving a problem. They are pushing out a product or service that THEY think is awesome but which no one else cares about. Pretty pointless, right? If you’re having trouble finding customers for your product or service, you really need to take a good hard look at your target audience and what you are offering. Are you solving a problem? Are you fulfilling a need? Or is your business just a little bit darling and while people say they love the idea, when it comes to putting their money where their mouths are, it’s just not happening?
Okay, assuming you’ve cleared that hurdle and there IS a market for what you offer and you have found customers in the past, the question becomes how do you find more of them, so that you can grow?
Understand your Target Audience
When an author writes a novel, they do character sketches to get a handle on who the people are in the story. There are minute details in the sketch that the reader will never see, but which help the writer to visualize their characters, making them more three dimensional.
As a business owner, you can engage in the same thing. Figure out who your target client is:
- Where do they shop?
- Where do they hang out, online?
- What are some of their other interests that might feed into what you’re offering?
- What kind of issues are they facing?
- What problems do they have (that you could help solve)?
Provide the solution to your audience’s problem
Ultimately, your product or service must fulfill a need of some sort. But how will your target audience know that you are the one to answer that need? One easy way to deal with that is through content.
If you create shareable content regularly that provides valuable information that your target audience is searching for, you will connect with a lot more people than if you post pictures of kittens on Facebook. If you are already a subject matter expert in an area of interest to your target market, drop a veil or two and let them know a little of what you know! You’re not giving away the farm, but you are positioning yourself as the ‘go to’ business for dealing with the needs you are addressing.
Find ways to connect with your target audience
- Show up where they are—not in a creepy stalker way, but find opportunities to build relationships with the audience that you are trying to reach. For example, if you’re a yoga instructor and you want to set up your own studio because you feel that you would like to reach out to persons with autism, make sure that you connect yourself to societies, organizations and groups that deal with people with autism so that you can organically share the information you have on the benefits of yoga for people on the spectrum.
- Share with your existing network—If you already have a network of like minded business people, share what you’re doing with them. Give them updates on changes to your business or new products / services offered. They can help spread the word and may know people that they can refer to you. Make sure you acknowledge those referrals and assistance by reciprocating when you can! Team up with like minded businesses who do something different but attract a similar section of your target audience. You can share referrals and reciprocate easily in this kind of setup, while not ‘poaching’ business from one another.
- Become a networking maven—attend events, seminars, and workshops that relate to what you are offering. You never know who you might meet and what kind of business relationship you might be able to build. If you make even one connection every time you attend an event, you are doing something positive to build your customer list.
With practice and effort, networking, referrals and sharing of content will become second nature to you. It’s not about selling to everyone, in the hopes that something will eventually stick, like tossing spaghetti on the wall. It’s about narrowing your target audience enough to be able to find out where they hang out, so you can join them!