When entrepreneurs and small business owners develop the marketing strategies for their companies or products, one of the areas with which they often have difficulty is identifying their optimum client. Every entrepreneur or business owner should be able to readily answer the questions: Who is my customer? How do I locate and reach my customers? Too often, the response to the first question is "everybody," which, in effect, amounts to no response at all. And unless the first question is answered appropriately, the answer to the second question will remain a mystery.
There are very few products or services that every human being would be able to use or be interested in using. The U.S. market is fragmented by many variables -- geography, gender, age, income, hobbies, marital status, family size, etc.
For example, let's say you were selling lawn care products in Norfolk, Virginia, on a retail basis. Let's examine who is most likely to be your ideal customer.
Your market is already limited by geography, since most people are not going to be willing to travel outside their city to purchase lawn care products. In addition,lawn care products do not lend themselves to large volume Internet and mail order sales because people like to touch, feel and test the products before making a purchase.
Apartment dwellers do not have lawns, so they are eliminated as potential clients. People under the age of 25 are unlikely to need lawn care products, since they are unlikely to be homeowners and would probably not have the income to afford these items. People below a certain income level would also be unlikely to be potential clients.
Thus, your likely client will be a homeowner, probably over the age of 30, with a household income of at least $35,000.
Then other factors must be considered. Most retail business occurs within a five- to ten-mile radius, so your likely customer is going to be near your retail location.
Depending upon your marketing budget, you will need to identify the most cost-effective method of reaching your clients. There are a variety of marketing methods from which to choose.
E-mail marketing tends to be inexpensive, but it is a shot-gun, or non-targeted approach to reaching potential customers and probably would be ineffective. Television and radio advertising both reach a large audience, but probably an audience too broad for the cost of the advertising run.
Direct mail to specific neighborhoods and subdivisions could be effective if you are able to work from a reliable mailing list. Even more effective would be door knockers on individual door knobs in targeted neighborhoods. This method would ensure that the advertising would be seen by the prospect and would not get lost among the myriad of leaflets and flyers that are sent through direct mail.
A colorful, high-quality marketing piece with imagery of lawn care products, a slogan or sales pitch, company location and phone number should reap the business rewards in the form of increased revenue. If the customers in these neighborhoods are satisfied, then a substantial amount of referral business should be realized as well.
Knowing your customer is the most important element of developing an effective marketing plan or strategy. This knowledge leads to a more focused and successful marketing campaign.