When you started your business, you entered the marketplace ready to solve a specific problem. It’s the whole point of any business, really — to help people by providing a solution to a someone’s problem.
Unfortunately, businesses sometimes miss the mark and end up trying to sell their products or services to the wrong people. Maybe you started without a clear vision of who your target market actually was, or maybe your idea became a sleeper hit among a group of people you never even thought of.
If you suspect you’re targeting the wrong audience, it’s important to do something about it. Remember, bad news does not get better with age. Don’t waste time and marketing dollars continually spinning your wheels in a muddy ditch. Determine the problem you actually do solve and identify who will ultimately benefit from your solution — but that’s only half of the equation. The musings of your corporate team must trickle down. You need to prepare your team for the shift in your target market.
To ensure that your transition is a successful one, you can’t just unilaterally declare that you’re going in a new direction. That’s the fastest way to scare and confuse your team. Instead, follow these 4 steps:
1. Involve everybody in the shift.
If everybody isn’t going in the same direction, the shift in target market will never work. Your people need to be part of the process, so listen to what all of your people have to say as you work to identify a new market and create a plan to hit it. Remember, your employees are closer to consumers and can provide valuable insight into why people choose your product or service.
2. Find new distribution points.
I always say that in a great partnership, 1+1=3, because everyone benefits. As you work to identify a new audience, match your target market with the people who already serve that audience and look to create partnerships or find other ways you can work together. When you marry these two groups, you can get your message out and grow your business exponentially and more efficiently.
3. Educate staff on the new market.
Your staff understands your current audience, but you can’t expect them to understand the new one overnight. If you ever hope to solve problems for consumers, help your team get to know this new audience. Give them an idea of your audience’s wants and needs, as well as their values and purchase behaviors. Encourage active dialogue and the open sharing of ideas between all levels of your staff.
4. Communicate to a narrow audience.
Don’t stand out on the street, screaming your message to anyone who happens to be within earshot. This mentality is what got you into the problem of trying to sell to the wrong market in the first place. Instead of spreading your message far and wide, sit down and think about who the right audience is. Create a plan and get specific. Only target people who fall within your audience or those who could one day be in that audience.
When you tap into the right market, you make your business relevant to the right people. You also give your company an opportunity to solve similar problems for other audiences and expand in the marketplace.
Take Coca-Cola, for example. Its product started out as a patent medicine that was only available in drugstores. When Robert Woodruff’s family purchased the company in 1919, they started a bottling and franchising operation for the product across the country.
During World War II, Woodruff decided to make Coca-Cola a worldwide sensation by putting free Coke on the ships going to Europe. Not only did the move provide Coca-Cola to soldiers overseas, but it also exposed the product to an entirely new market.
Without offering your solution to the correct audience, you risk endangering your company’s longevity. But switching audiences isn’t something you can do overnight. Your approach, your message, your tone, and your platforms need to adjust to the market you’re talking to. That means you must prepare your people to tackle your new audience and arm them with the information they need.
This article was originally published by Startup Nation
Published: November 26, 2014