You want more business. What’s the first thing you do?

Hint: It isn’t deciding what marketing channel to use (TV, radio, print ads, website, trade show, direct mail, etc.).

How about really understanding who you are selling to?

How can you intelligently know what to say or how to say it if you don’t know who you’re talking to?

A new business has this as a first challenge: Identifying not just who you would like to sell to, but who actually WOULD purchase your goods or services.

Don’t assume you know the answer to that without taking a good hard look at the question. Your every advertising dollar can be totally wasted if you start with a wrong idea of your target market.

Maybe you know generally who you are trying to sell to but don’t have it narrowed down enough to make your marketing work. If your selling hearing aids, your trying to sell to the hearing impaired. But which hearing impaired? Or maybe you should be trying to sell to their husbands or wives.

I’ve seen many businesses waste the entirety of their marketing budgets, year after year with not just poor results but NO response. They keep their doors open only because of happy customers – repeat business and referrals to others. They are making many errors in their marketing but the first one is: Not knowing who to sell to.

So how do you DO you find your target audience?

searching for leads on computerIf you’ve been in business for a while, you can look at who has purchased from you in the past. Whether you’re selling to businesses or individuals, a lot of them will have a lot of things in common.

For businesses it can be size of business, industry, location. Maybe your niche is rapidly expanding small businesses. Maybe it’s service businesses on the beach.

For individuals it can be men or women, affluent or poor, professionals or blue collar workers, people who like to sew or play tennis or with hearing problems.

You may have a great idea of trying to sell to a new market, but the fact is, you can almost certainly get the biggest bang for your marketing dollar by doing a better job of reaching the people who HAVE been buying from you.

What if you are just starting a business?

If you worked in the same industry before you probably have a pretty good idea of the answers, but if not, you can research online. Find your competitors. From their websites, sales materials and so on you can get a pretty good idea of who they are targeting. If their websites all feature people with gray hair, they are not going after 30 year olds.

The more exactly you can nail down your target market, the better ROI (Return on Investment) you can get from your marketing campaign. Of course, once you know who you are trying to sell to, there are more questions to answer. But that’s another blog.