Identifying Your Target Customer
The next thing that you’re going to have to do is identify the customer that you are trying to connect with. You’ve got a product niche all picked out and you’ve determined that the market size is sufficient to allow you to make money in said niche, but what about the actual person that is going to buy that product?
You can’t market to a faceless crowd. You need to know who is most likely to buy your product or use your service so that you can tailor your marketing specifically for them and entice them to buy from you. Understanding your ideal customer starts with a basic understanding of how demographics work.
Demographics: How to Know Which Group to Market to
Some companies couldn’t live without demographic data. That is the only way that they can make decisions, create marketing strategies and plan elaborate ad campaigns. To be fair, we are talking about tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars invested in some cases so it is no wonder that they evaluate their marketing plan carefully before they implement it.
But for the average ecommerce website that specializes in a particularly niche, market data isn’t a necessity. It is however, extremely useful. But to understand the data, you first have to understand how the groups are divided.
To understand what sort of factors make up your target consumer, you need to understand what sort of categories that the experts divide people into. Here are just some of those categories.
- Men - Women
- Men & Women 18-24
- Men & Women 35 to 34
- Men & Women 35 to 54
- Men & Women Age 55 and Over
- Level of education
- Size of the Household
So, you can see that identifying the ideal customer is a little more complicated than it looks on the surface and what goes into actually getting that information is even more difficult to understand. There are of course, some products that demographics are easy for. For example: if you were marketing tampons, you’d want to market them exclusively to women between the ages of puberty and menopause. If you were marketing cologne on the other hand, you might market the same basic age groups for men on the other side.
However, other information is harder to come by. When a company wants to know who is more apt to buy their product, they have several ways to get the information. The most common one is paying for surveys. You might even have worked at one of these survey centers if you are part of Generation Y. Now, they are pretty much obsolete as the internet has made it incredibly easy to collect data.
Companies spend millions tracking consumers as they shop, as they window shop and as they search for things that they’d rather not have Wal-Mart know about. Of course, this data is compiled and separated, and usually tells companies with a great deal of accuracy what kind of person is looking for the products that they sell.
Unfortunately, this method doesn’t usually work for the average consumer, particularly not one just starting their own Shopify store. So, your method will have to be a little different. Even if you have no clue whatsoever who will be buying your products right now, there are some ways that you can identify your target consumer. Here are some tips.
How Small Businesses & Ecommerce Sites Can Identify Their Target Market
The first thing that we’re going to do is refer back to the beginning of this book. Remember the problem that you are solving? Well, that’s the first step to identifying your target customer. What kind of person would be having the kind of problem that your product or service solves? From there you can begin to narrow things down a little bit. Is that person more likely to be male or female? What age range is this person apt to be in? Questions like these can help you begin to define your ideal audience.
Create a Picture of the Customer(s) in Your Head
Remember, your ideal customer doesn’t have to be limited to just one person. You can create an archetype that encompasses several different age ranges, genders or income brackets. The important thing is that you create a picture of these customers in your head – in other words that you actually consider these customers to be real people and not just faceless cardboard cutouts in front of computer screens. Make an actual list of the customers you think that your product is right for, and divide them up by demographics like gender, age group and location.
See the Value in Your Product or Service
If you are having trouble narrowing down just what your ideal customer is going to be then you might need to ask yourself some defining questions to identify who would consider your product or service to be valuable. Here are some questions that you can use to paint a picture if you had trouble with this in the previous step.
- What is the problem again and what type of person is likely to suffer the most from it?
- If the customer does not deal with this problem using your product or service, what will the result be? What will happen if they fail to act?
Understand Your Market
Obviously, you are going to be a niche provider. Every small ecommerce company is a niche provider these days. The world of internet marketing and ecommerce is one that requires a niche in order to compete, and the more specialized a niche the better (assuming there is a market for it).
Identifying your ideal customer requires that you understand your market intimately. Can you imagine if Roy Raymond had never been married or tried to buy his wife lingerie? Would Victoria’s Secret have been as successful as it is? Raymond was able to compete in the industry and grow his company to be the world’s largest intimate clothing retailer.
Up until that point, no one had thought of marketing lingerie to men. It was inconceivable. After all, men didn’t wear lingerie. But Raymond discovered that the ideal customer was just like him and obviously, since he knew himself intimately, it was quite easy for him to begin marketing to his ideal customer.
He created the perfect situation for himself to be successful – identifying who was most likely to buy his products and then laser targeting his marketing efforts towards them. That’s not to say that Victoria’s Secret didn’t target women as well – they did – but at the time marketing lingerie to men was revolutionary – and it made Roy Raymond rich.
Understand Your Customer’s Options
The previous example is also a demonstration of this principle. What options does the ideal customer have? This will help you decide who the ideal customer is, because you want them to have no option other than yourself. That’s why the aforementioned Victoria’s Secret was able to become the number one lingerie retailer in America. Men had no other option when it came to buying lingerie, except visiting the same stores that they had become embarrassed in and likely were unable to complete their purchases.