As a small business, you may be reluctant to turn away business opportunities, no matter what the source. But trying to be all things to all people will usually lead to failure.
Follow the money. ‘Do what you love’ is a great place to start, but you need to find the best place to sell your product or service. Look for a target group large enough, with enough money to spend, to produce the revenue you need. Avoid markets that need what you offer but can’t afford to pay for it. You and the people around you have limited time, and a limited budget. Focus them on a market that gives the best financial results.
What do they really need ? Once you have chosen a target market, you can focus on their unmet needs. When Federal Express started their express package service, their message was, “when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”. They targeted people and companies who had an urgent need for overnight delivery, and were willing to pay extra for it. You can do the same thing in your business.
Stand out. In every market, there is plenty of competition. Successful companies must find a way to be different from and better than their competitors in the eyes of a particular group of customers. What problems need solutions? How can you use your existing skills and abilities to be seen as an expert? What can you offer that competitors will have a hard time matching? Study your ideal customer until you know them as well as you know yourself. When you can answer the question “why should I buy from you instead of your competitors?” from your target customer’s point of view, you are ready to move forward.
Check it out. Is there a way to communicate with the group cost-effectively? How does the group search for a vendor on the internet? What media does your group use to look for product or service information? What conferences and meetings do they attend? What marketing messages will be the most effective on your web page or in your blog? People respond best when they believe you are talking directly to them about their individual needs.
Reach out. Take some time to confirm what you have learned. Go to the meetup groups and LinkedIn events where you expect customers to be. Start some conversations. Search for comments and questions on social media sites. Ask some questions yourself and see who answers. Do they respond to you? Are they interested in what you can do? If not, change your offer, change your message, or look for a different customer group.
Engage ! Deliver your message to your target market using the media they follow and the events they attend. Execute your business flawlessly so your customer has a highly satisfying experience with your company. Ask for referrals and recommendations to other customers. Listen to customer concerns and feedback. Adjust as necessary. Repeat.
Next – Mr. Livingstone, I presume: how to use LinkedIn to find business leads