Why Targeting Your Market Is Essential to Your Business

This post originally appeared on CoffeeBreakUniversity.com

Introduction

Every business needs a target market in order to focus its marketing efforts effectively.

  • What Is a Target Market?
    A target market is a clearly defined group of people for you to direct your marketing efforts to.
  • Why Laser-Target Your Market?
    In marketing, you either hit or miss; there is no in-between. Defining your market gives you somewhere to aim.
  • Benefits and Solutions
    If you know your target market’s pain or problems, you can provide the solution they’re looking for.

Conclusion

Never make assumptions. Listen to what your target market says and base your marketing decisions on that data.

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The Essentials of Market Research

This post originally appeared on CoffeeBreakUniversity.com

Introduction

Market research helps you create a profile of your perfect customer so that you can formulate your business strategies with precision.

  • Quantitative vs. Qualitative Data
    Quantitative data looks at the big picture and yields statistical results that show overall trends. Quantitative data goes deeper and gives you more subjective data.
  • Your Target Market Profile
    The goal of your market research is to create a profile of one individual who is your perfect customer.

Conclusion

Marketing is a science and you should be ready to make discoveries. Some of what you learn about your target market will surprise you.

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Gaining Referrals

Few experienced solo and small office professionals need to be reminded about the importance of referrals for maintaining a constant, if not increasing, flow of clients. For starters, referrals are relatively inexpensive. Requiring little in the way of time or money. More importantly, referrals bring a level of trust and enthusiasm. Someone that the potential new client knows has convinced them that the company’s products or services are worthwhile, so much of the barrier to a relationship is already reduced. In fact, in many cases the client may be begging to get started for whatever is being sold. While a potential sale may only close 10% of the time through traditional channels, it is not uncommon for referrals to close well over 50% of the time, if not higher.

None of that, however, goes to answer the question of how to get referrals. Some may be inclined to think that because referrals have to come from a client that they are nothing to be counted upon in the standard revenue stream. In fact, the opposite is very much the truth. With a few simple adjustments, any company can take the good work it is already producing for its clients and magnify it across the market.

While it may go without saying, the most important step in building the number of referrals that a company receives is to do good work. No one wants someone to come to their restaurant and spread that the food is just alright. Perhaps worse, no one wants a customer who is going to suggest that service is lacking. To achieve a large number of referrals, the company must offer something that causes people to want to talk about it.

Equally important, a company should have a process in place to encourage its clients to offer referrals. Depending on the nature of the company and the products offered, that could take on a variety of different forms.

At the most basic level, getting referrals is about asking for them. After a client has received a number of deliverables that are at a high enough standard, ask them to send potential prospects to the company. Feel free to incentivize this for the existing clients. For example, TV providers often offer existing clients a small bill credit for each new customer that signs a contract for service. The existing client gets a lower bill while the company gets a new client, meaning that everyone wins.

While it certainly helps for the referral program to be systematized like the cable TV referrals, it is not a firm requirement. An accountant working with a firm could simply ask the managing partner if he or she knows anyone else who would be able to use their services and if the client would be willing to put the two in touch.

Taken to the extreme, this could include affiliate programs, which offer a percentage of the new client’s fees as a reward for the referrer. However, this require some amount of caution. For a referral to be truly effective, it is essential that the potential new client understand that the referral is made with their best interests at heart, not the promise of monetary gain. After all, which would be more trustworthy, a website offering an affiliate link to a product, or a social media post from a friend to the same product in question? Chances are that it is the social media post.

Speaking of social media, it can create meaningful ways to achieve referrals, especially for those companies that market directly to consumers. A number of fast food places use this to their advantage, creating hashtags that allow their current customers to post about their experiences with the company’s product. Few people ever click on a sponsored hashtag to see how complete strangers enjoy a cup of coffee. However, it does offer a way for the customer to feel that they are helping the company – though it lacks the formality of a letter of introduction, it is a referral all the same.

Clearly, there are a number of ways to ask for referrals overtly, whether it is simply approaching the project manager or appealing to the masses via social media. However, not every company or professional will feel comfortable giving referrals. For many, there could be corporate regulations that stand in the way. For others, it may be something as simple as not wanting to endorse one vendor’s work as being better than the others. In these cases, it may be worthwhile to take a slightly different approach. Press releases which announce the completion of a project or milestone highlight the fact that two or more organizations have collaborated, and do not inherently create a referral. That said, many of the advantages are there, especially the ability to refer back to a bond and the inherent trust present.

Luckily, most companies are easy going when it comes to gaining referrals, as they see it as an opportunity to pay it forward. Speaking of which, giving referrals should be an essential portion of any plan to get referrals. By supporting a client’s business through referrals, there is not only an opportunity to help out a colleague, but also to see their practice grow. An accountant who refers people to a lawyer will see the lawyer do more billing, which means more finances to be tracked, which in turn means more work for the accountant.

Of course, referrals should be given freely when there is no promise for such direct financial return. In doing so, a relationship mentality is built between the firm and the client. This in turn serves two purposes. The client sees the firm as more of a partner than a vendor, making them more willing to pay higher prices, if necessary. Additionally, because the client views the firm in such a good light, it will see the firm’s continued success as linked to its own.

This idea of a partnership for the purpose of gaining referrals and encouraging other businesses is very much the reason behind a number of professional groups, as companies often have something to offer those who are not their regular clients. Even networking in a less formal setting can enable someone to refer a potential client as a friend rather than just as another ad off of the Internet. At their best, these professional groups become hives of referral swapping, with each member dedicated not only to his or her own success, but that of the other members of the group.

No matter how a company comes about its referrals, there are a few tips that are necessary to make the most of them. First and foremost, it is vital to thank those who offer referrals, no matter what the final outcome may be. The fastest way to lose a source of referrals is to take it for granted – after all, referrals do not come from employees, but instead those who are going out of their way to help another company.

Second, high standards must be kept for both new and existing clients. New clients are the most likely to offer new referrals, but having a long-time client suddenly drop a product or service, or worse yet, explain to others their disgruntlement can be especially damaging.

Finally, the worst time to go finding referrals is when they are needed most for the survival of the business. If a company is in such dire straits, it is best to look at the circumstances that caused the downturn in business. If it was a loss of quality, as is often the case, potential remedies should be examined first. If the loss of profits was caused by something else, then those causes should be identified and mitigated to the best of the firm’s abilities. In the long run, attending to such concerns will help make sure that any new referrals are given the attention needed to become new referees themselves.

The Top 5 Methods of Online Market Research

This post originally appeared on CoffeeBreakUniversity.com

Introduction

There are 5 great ways to research your market online aside from basic keyword research.

  • Online Surveys
    Online surveys allow you to ask your market questions anonymously and much of the process can be automated.
  • Blog Questions
    You can ask questions on your blog and encourage them to leave their input.
  • Your Email List
    Your list of email subscribers is a built-in, pre-screened audience that’s great for seeking feedback.
  • Forums and Q&A Sites
    Forums and question-and-answer sites offer data on all kinds of topics.
  • Social Networks
    Social networks are places where people openly share their likes and interests.

Conclusion

Even though you can discover lots of information online, don’t abandon your offline market research.

The post The Top 5 Methods of Online Market Research appeared first on Coffee Break University.

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How to Use Online Surveys to Research Your Market

This post originally appeared on CoffeeBreakUniversity.com

Introduction

To get the data you need to know, you have to create a survey that asks the right questions.

  • Stick to One Issue
    Each survey should be on only one topic.
  • What to Ask
    Your questions shouldn’t be open-ended, leading, or potentially offensive to your respondents.
  • Tools to Make It Easier
    There are a number of tools designed to make creating, conducting and analyzing surveys easier.

Conclusion

It’s good to offer an incentive or reward for taking the time to participate in your survey.


The post How to Use Online Surveys to Research Your Market appeared first on Coffee Break University.

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Learn about Your Market through Your Blog

This post originally appeared on CoffeeBreakUniversity.com

Introduction

You can find out all kinds of information about your target market through your blog.

  • Ask a Question
    End your blog posts with a question and encourage your readers to give their two cents.
  • Always Answer Comments
    Reply to all comments, letting them know that you’re there and you’re responsive to them. Get a conversation going.
  • Email for More Info
    When you want to know more about a commenter’s opinion, email them personally.
  • Making Your Blog a Nice Neighborhood
    Make your blog a supportive place where people aren’t afraid to comment or ask questions.
  • Use Comments for Future Posts
    Turn your readers’ comments into future blog posts.
  • Spy on Your Competition
    Read your competition’s blog as well.

Conclusion

The same basic techniques can be used to engage customers and learn more about them on other sites as well.


The post Learn about Your Market through Your Blog appeared first on Coffee Break University.

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How to Use Email to Better Understand Your Market

This post originally appeared on CoffeeBreakUniversity.com

Introduction

Email is a cheap, easy and fast way to find out more about your target market.

  • Email Makes It Easy
    Email surveys are extremely easy for both you and your respondents.
  • Opinion Surveys by Email
    Opinion surveys require a little more from your respondents but can yield more in-depth information.
  • The Dreaded Delete Button
    Keep your respondents from deleting your emails by clearly stating what the emails are all about and what they can expect.
  • Spicing up Your Surveys
    Add images or other media to your email surveys to make them more interesting.
  • Take Advantage of Software Programs
    Software programs automate everything for you.
  • Share the Results
    Share the results with your respondents through email or your blog.

Conclusion

Before conducting surveys by email, make sure your target market is online. Some consumers aren’t.


The post How to Use Email to Better Understand Your Market appeared first on Coffee Break University.

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Fly on the Wall – Where to Go Online to Listen to Your Market

This post originally appeared on CoffeeBreakUniversity.com

Introduction

The Internet offers lots of great places to go and listen to your target market give their opinions and share their interests.

  • Forums and Q&A Sites
    Forums and question-and-answer sites show you what topics are hot and what people are saying about them.
  • Social Networking Sites
    Social networking sites allow you to interact directly with your target market and discover exactly what they’re into.

Conclusion

No matter where you go to listen to your market, the flow is the same: Identify your market, find out where they hang out, and use that site to gather information about them.


The post Fly on the Wall – Where to Go Online to Listen to Your Market appeared first on Coffee Break University.

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Keeping Track of Your Changing Market

This post originally appeared on CoffeeBreakUniversity.com

Introduction

People’s tastes change and you need to keep researching your market.

  • Conduct Regular Market Research
    Make market research a regular part of your business’s operations.
  • Improve Your Offerings
    Use the data you gather to improve your products and services.
  • Keep in Touch Online
    Stay in communication with your market through the Internet.
  • Sign up for Alerts
    Sign up for alert services so that you’ll know whenever your business’s name is mentioned.

Conclusion

Never assume that your customers’ tastes will stay the same.


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Your Perfect Customer – How to Create a Target Market Profile

This post originally appeared on CoffeeBreakUniversity.com

Introduction

The goal of market research is to create a profile or your perfect customer.

  • Demographic Information
    Demographic information is data about your customer including age, gender, location, education level, income and family structure.
  • Lifestyle and Hobbies
    What your customers do on the weekends and their interests are also important.
  • Morals and Values
    Learn how they see themselves and how they feel about the world around them.
  • Pain Points
    Pain points are essential because you’re going to be offering your product as a solution.
  • Shopping Habits
    How they shop and use the products they buy is also key information.

Conclusion

You need as specific a picture as possible or you run the risk of casting your net too wide.


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