What makes a product or service successful? Well, besides loads of hard work and due diligence, one of the clearest indicators of a strong product or service is customers who want to spend money on it. It can be difficult to step back from the business you’re building to figure out who exactly your product serves best. However, it’s important to take this task on as early in the business development process as possible, so that the value your customers seek is already inherently built into the product when it hits the market. Below, we’ll talk about how to identify your target market, along with some best practices to make sure your business reaches this market the right way.
A great way to start identifying your market is by figuring out what exactly makes your product or service valuable and for who. The best way to do this is to start speaking to people who you think your product or service might fit well. At first, it can be hard to get in front of enough people to have a conclusive idea of who you’re selling to. What’s particularly helpful about this stage is instead your freedom to explore different segments of the market. You may start the customer discovery process thinking you know very well who your customers will probably be. After speaking to and surveying people inside and outside of that major segment, you may find that there is little interest inside that intended market, but tons of interest from another major segment. Regardless of the findings, after this first stab at surveying the market, you’ll have a much better idea of direction moving into more in depth customer discovery.
B2B or B2C Selling?
In order to start building this value proposition for your product, you should first consider whether you’re selling business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C).
Key factors to consider when defining a B2C target market:
- Geographic location
- Buying Power (Financially)
Selling to a business can be different and seem daunting, but in reality it’s more similar than you might think. At the end of the day, even when the goal is to gain a corporate client, you’ll still be selling directly to a person within their organization. A good place to start in this case is to figure out who it is that you’ll be selling to on behalf of the company. You might have a certain perception about who that person is based off of prior industry experience or word of mouth, but it’s important to be as precise in your approach as possible from the jump.
Key factors to consider when defining a B2B target market:
- Size of Company
- Product/Service they’re selling
- General budget for spending on the vertical your product falls into
Surveying Prospective & Initial Customers
If you already have an existing customer base, try listening to them.Pay close attention to how they use your product or service, what they like about it as well as what they don’t like. Try to gather information on how your customers found your product, this will help indicate which channels are best to reach your consumers. Listening to your customers and addressing their needs is a simple way to build value.
There are plenty of people who haven’t yet had their first customer, and they’re arguably just as much if not more in need of an identifiable target market. For those of us in this category, try creating a list of product features and benefits. It’s important to keep separate running lists of both, because they each have their respective uses when you implement them into your actual business model. Think of features as a running list of everything your product or service does; while a benefit is anything that results from using that product or service.
Product Features & Value
Take an electric toothbrush for example. Some key features might be:
- 2000 rpm brush speed
- Multi-speed settings
- Rechargeable battery
- Disposable brush head
Now, the benefits of a toothbrush with such features might look something like this:
- Adaptable to any level of teeth sensitivity
- Ability to be used anywhere
- Recharged to full power within minutes
- Reaches all angles and crevices of teeth for a cleaner brush
While you should know the type of features your product or service entails, and even make them known to your customer, you shouldn’t rely on your customer to understand the value you’re creating when presented with the features alone. The best way to get a prospective customer interested in your product at first is to let them know the value they will draw from your product. Thus, it makes the most sense to lead with the benefits a user will experience by becoming a customer, rather than overwhelming them with every last feature you have to offer.
Once you have a solid running list that lays out your value to the customer, start to test it with a group of people you imagine will resonate most with you’re offering.
Learning From the Competition
Another great way to gain insight into your target market is to study who the competition is selling to. Not only will this give you a better understanding of the competitive landscape, but studying your competition will provide immense insights into who might be interested in your product. Moreover, if there are segments of the market you think the competition is overlooking in their offering, it might be wise for you to focus on this segment to gain traction. The goal here is not to research every aspect of the competition’s consumer base, but instead to have a general understanding to better position your own brand.
They key to finding your target market comes down to listening to as many diverse opinions as you can, in order to refine that feedback into a valuable product or service. Be open minded toward feedback, even when it’s critical, but don’t let it discourage you from creating your best product. By listening, you can discover the product that consumers want, and subsequently be able to make your own offering match the value that they seek.