Free Business Course: Find your market

You’ve decided what business you are in, now you need to narrow your target market

Once you have decided what business to be in, your next step is to decide who you will be doing it for, i.e. try to narrow your target market as much as possible. You can’t market to everyone. There are many, many potential market sectors for your services; far too many for you to market effectively to them all.

A light bulb dissipates energy across a wide area/a laser is focused on a small area; you want your marketing to be more like a laser than a light bulb – and for that to happen you need to have a clear idea of who your customer is. The following points will help you find the specific/narrow target group.

Find your market:

The first thing to do is to write down all the potential market sectors for your services then consider each in relation to the following questions. These questions are taken from the book Marketing Your Services by Anthony O. Putman

Mark each of the sectors you are considering out of 10 for each checkpoint; it should become clearer what market sectors to ignore and what to concentrate on.

Can they afford you?

  • Do they have a big enough budget to make it worthwhile you doing work for them. Tip: check your local Library Business Service; the Mitchell Library in Glasgow for example can provide turnover information for Scottish Businesses.
  • A third of all business are bust within two years, half are gone within 5 years. One of the main reasons is an inability to make a profit. One business owner I spoke to decided to close down his printing business because he was working 12 hours a days, six days a week and was barely breaking even; he had masses of work but wasn’t making any money. He was doing that work for local businesses not prepared to pay more than the bare minimum for printing services.
  • I provide services to non-profits/Voluntary Sector which is a very competitive market. Grants and subsidies from Government in the UK amounts to #66.2 billion a year, Central government contracts delivered by the voluntary sector amounted to #4.4 billion. (ONS United Kingdom National Accounts – The Blue Book, 2011 Edition). In relation to website design and development work most charities and voluntary sector organisations make provision in their budgets for the development and maintenance of their websites. As a business I’m always trying to work my way up the ‘food chain’, i.e. work with larger and larger organisations who have larger budgets.

Will they pay a premium for better service?

  • Are they only looking for the cheapest – or are they willing to pay extra for the best.
  • If you market yourself as ‘the best’ and prove that to be true in practice – you can command a premium price for your services.
  • Larger organisations with bigger budgets tend to be more open to paying for quality and paying for services beyond the basics.

Are there enough of them?

  • Is this target market big or is there only one potential customer in your area?
  • In relation to the market I operate in, if I just look at Charities alone, in February 2009, there were 170,905 charities.(UK Civil Society Almanac 2012 published by NCVO www.ncvo-vol.org.uk).

Can you reach them?

  • You won’t be able to build a relationship with them if you can’t communicate with them.
  • I worked in the Voluntary Sector before I set up my web design agency – so I had a ready made network and an understanding of the culture.

Are you credible in their eyes? Will they take you seriously?

  • Building your credibility will be an important aspic of your marketing. I was aware of this early on and decided that as part of my marketing I would become a publisher author, provide free weekly website accessibility tips, create training courses and generally try to ensure that potential customs perceived me as the expert in the area of accessible website design.

How much competition is there for the work?

  • In most sectors there will be a lot of competition; if there isn’t competition that probably means the sector isn’t worth being in. Your job is to stand-out from the competition. You do this, not by offering better features, techniques or better presentations; but by the managing the impression buyers get of you from the very first meeting, email or telephone call. You always need to appear generous, knowledgable, professional, ethical and reliable.

Do they have a need for your service? And do they know they need it?

Are the in the right area? In Glasgow? Edinburgh?

How will the the type of organisations you do work for reflect on you?

  • One of the things people are impressed by is the type of organisation you have previously provided services to. I’ve provided advice to local government, national government and The European Union on website accessibility and I’ve also did work for many of the larger Voluntary Sector organisations; this helps make people feel more secure when they are considering buying my service.
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