Small business advisor and USA Today columnist Rhonda Abrams, who participated in the Facebook Fit series of events for small and midsized businesses, urged SMBs to focus on finding their best customers in a post on the Facebook for Business page.
A few years ago, I was conducting a business planning session with about 80 winemakers. I asked each to tell me what distinguished them from each other. Every single winemaker responded with the same word: “Quality.” In other words, none of the 80 wineries had defined an objective distinction or a clear target market. As a customer, I would have had a hard time figuring out which winery was the best fit for me.
“What if,” I asked, “instead of going after the entire market, one of you targeted women wine drinkers, another high-end wine drinkers? Wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier to find, reach and sell to your customers? And to distinguish yourself from the competition?”
Identifying a specific market segment — finding your niche — is one of the critical keys to unlocking small business success. Most small companies can’t compete against big corporations when it comes to reaching an entire market. So if you can carve out a slice of that market — define it and serve it well — you can own it.
Why? By choosing a specific market, you can develop products better suited for that market than your competitors.
It’s easier to make a sale, and you can charge more. That’s because we all respond to those who understand us and our specific needs. But as important, companies that identify a clear target market — their niche — have a far easier time reaching their potential customers.
For instance, if you’re targeting women wine drinkers, you might identify particularly good customers as being younger women, ages 25 through 39, living in urban areas, who are interested in restaurants, wine and cooking.
Reaching that kind of narrow market might have been relatively difficult in the not-too-distant past. If you advertised in a women’s magazine, you’d be paying to get in front of a lot of women who didn’t even drink wine. And if you advertised on a wine website, you’d get a lot of men.
But now, through online media, with platforms like Facebook, you can actually target exactly the type of person you want to be in front of. You can specify exactly the demographics and interests of the people who you would like to see your ads.
So, sit down and think about your best target customer(s). What do they have in common? What makes them special? How would you define them in terms of demographics, interests, professions, geography and income? Facebook can help you reach them.
Readers: What did you think of Abrams’ advice?