So. You are walking down a busy pedestrian mall, and a flustered woman hurries towards you. “I can’t find my son Tyler!” she says. “Have you seen him?”
Say you have seen four dozen boys of varying ages roaming the streets in the last hour. It is impossible to tell her yes or no. So what are you going to do? Probably ask her a few questions. How old is he? What color shirt is he wearing? What color hair does he have? What is his favorite thing to do?
So it turns out Tyler is a six year old boy with brown hair, and he is wearing a Denver Bronco’s vest. Plus, his favorite thing in the world is toy trains. So you instantly remember seeing him at the back of an outdated holiday display featuring a model train set.
So say that Tyler is your ideal client. There are two important things to take away from this story.
First, you will never find your target market unless you know a few of its characteristics. And second, you need to build the equivalent of your target market’s model train set.
Begin by asking yourself every question you can think of concerning your target market. How old are they, male or female, what do they do for fun, where do they hang out, where do they work, how much do they make, what is their favorite genre of book, where do they buy groceries? Using all of this information, figure out where they go. This is where you should display your marketing.
Then, make sure your marketing catches their eye; for you to find them, they have to find you. Ask yourself, what big problem does my target market have that I can solve? Or, what does my target market want that I have? If your marketing is not working, ask yourself why, and change it.
Here is where it can be helpful to use “test” or “Beta” clients. Offer your services for free to a few people that you know are part of your target market. In return, ask for feedback about the effectiveness of your marketing.
Another way to access ideal clients is to ask for referrals. Describe your ideal client and how you will help them; ask people if they know anyone who fits the bill. You might offer some sort of gift to the referrer and/or the referee.
You can also research potential niches online. Try searching key words on LinkedIn. Or conversations in Twitter. The following websites are a good place to estimate the size of a market also. www.census.gov (free), or www.hoovers.com (costs money).
But when it comes down to it, like a mother with a lost child, do everything you can to find your target market. It is the most important basic first step of your business!
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