You have just started a business. Your online store is set up; you’ve double-checked everything; your inventory is all packed and ready to ship. There’s just one thing left. You need customers but you do....
You have just started a business. Your online store is set up; you’ve double-checked everything; your inventory is all packed and ready to ship. There’s just one thing left. You need customers but you don’t know where to start.
How do you get your first customers?
This article is for you. It will cover everything you need to know about getting your first 100 customers. It will work you through identifying your target market, where you can find them, how to get them to notice you and buy from you. One article to take you from 0 to 100.
Who is your target market? The answer to this question is the key to getting you your first customer and the 100 after.
Business owners often make the mistake of not clearly defining their target market. An unclear target audience is a recipe for disaster for new businesses. It might not seem so at first, but eventually, your target audience determines whether your business succeeds or fails.
To get your first customer, you must first know who they are.
Your target market is a specific group of potential customers to whom you can sell your product or service.
The target market is a segment of the total market for whom a product or service is best suited for. Consumers within a target market share similar characteristics like demography, buying power or income.
Target markets influence decision making in marketing strategies such as where to spend money on ads or how to appeal to customers.
This is why the first step to getting customers is determining who your target market is.
The target market is used to define the buyer persona of a business. This persona is a representative overview of your business’s ideal customer.
Determining your target market can be a tricky affair. A popular misconception is that the target market is the same as a demographic. Demographics help you describe your target market but they only tell a small part of the story.
Here is a step by step guide to determining your target market.
The first step in defining your target market is identifying what value your product/service will be offering them. A product’s value is attached to the feature/benefit that the product comes with and is directly contained within the problem it solves.
Here’s an example
If you sell braided wigs, the benefit to the consumer is a stressless alternative to spending hours at a beauty salon.
Here’s an exercise to help you with this step. Using the table below, identify the features of your product/service and write down what benefit each feature provides your customer. This exercise helps you understand what your potential customer has to gain from your product and why they would choose to buy it. By the end of this exercise, patterns will begin to show reflecting common characteristics of your target market.
This exercise involves drawing a specific group of people out of the general market that your benefit (from the last section) can potentially serve. The aim is to zoom into as specific a group as possible to dedicate your marketing effort towards. Here’s a case study courtesy of Greenbook.org illustrating how market segmentation assists businesses in maximising their reach.
An auto insurance company performed a market analysis to segment their market into these 5 segments: Non-traditionalists, direct buyers, budget-conscious, agent loyal and hassle-free. This exercise provided the company with insight into the best marketing message for its audience.
Here are four characteristics for segmenting large markets.
Markets can be broken down into the specific geographic location your potential customer is. This could be on a country level or even as small as a specific city in a state. For your small business, we recommend you target your local city.
Demography refers to characteristics used to describe a specific population. Demographic descriptions include:
This refers to non-physical (often social) motivations that influence your customer’s purchasing decision. People often choose products based on their beliefs and emotions. An example of this:
Luxury items appeal to consumers based on their interest in status symbols.
Here are some psychographic variables to guide you in identifying your target market’s characteristics:
For this exercise, we take into account the reason behind your consumers choice for purchasing your product/service. Answer the following questions about your market
Target markets are usually a combination of the different segments gotten from the above criteria. Demography and geography qualify your target market so you can establish segment members that can afford your product and have access to your product. The second two segmentation criteria will guide you in constructing promotional messaging that will appeal to that target market.
The final step is researching your market. This ranges from what their habits are to what social media platforms they are most likely to be on. What competing products do they currently use?
Research involves developing and distributing surveys and questionnaires or having focus groups consisting of people that fit into your target market. Good research is extremely detailed and involves as large a sample size as possible. By the end of your research, you will have completed the final step in understanding your target audience.
At this point, you should be able to answer these questions:
The next part of the article explains reaching out to your target market and converting them into your consumers. This section consists of actionable steps you can take to make your potential customer your active customer.
One step closer to our new customers, you now have a clear understanding of who you are selling to and where you can find them. The next thing on our agenda is getting a conversation going.
A conversation needs one party to start things so we can either reach out to potential customers or we can position ourselves for the customers to start conversations with us. This section of the article will cover both scenarios.
There are a couple of ways we can first reach out to potential customers once we have tracked them down.
Start with your friends and family. Get them to try out your product. The first customers are always friends and family. Your network of friends can also serve as testers for your product. You can get very detailed and kind feedback on your product before facing strangers. This ensures you are taking the best version of your product to the masses.
Once you have exhausted your friends, go after their friends. Reach out to them and talk about your business. The farther away you go from people you know closely, the more cautious you have to be about the message you send to them. People generally do not appreciate messages from strangers.
Here’s a short template to follow when cold messaging people about your new business.
Here is an example of a message you might send to a friend of a friend about your wig business. The scenario is that you are trying to sell your wig inventory to a friend of a friend that you have recently connected with on Instagram.
“Hello. My name is John Doe. Thank you for connecting with me. I noticed that in your profile picture, you are wearing a beautiful frontal wig. I imagined that perhaps you are like me and have experienced the struggle of trying to get a wig that best suits me. Worst still is that every time I order one, what I get is never what is advertised by the vendor. This problem bothered me to the extent that I developed a business to solve it. With my business model, customers can order a wig and for up to 2 weeks can return the product if they aren't satisfied with what they got. I also provided discounted refurbishment for wigs bought from me. I am doing a limited offer now and if you order from me within the next month, you get a discount. I’d love to do business with you”
This is an example of what a cold message to someone might look like.
You have gotten a couple of your friends and people in your network to start engaging with your business. The next step from here is to build on that momentum. The best way to do this is through referrals. There is no better advertisement than word of mouth and you need to utilise this with all your new customers. Every time someone uses your products or your services, request a referral. Ask them to tweet about you or post about you on Linkedin. And it’s best to ask for their sincere thoughts on your business rather than simply telling them to share the word.
“How did you find our product? Did you like it? If so, do you mind sharing it with people in your network?"
From the target market exercise we completed earlier on, we can clearly state what problem we are trying to solve for our customers. For this tip, you will need to search the internet for people with those problems.
In this step, you put yourself into the shoes of your target audience and attempt to solve that problem. Take on Twitter and Instagram, search for people talking about the problem you have a solution to. Reach out to these people directly with your product.
The next thing is positioning yourself on the internet in a way that people that have the problem that you solve can easily find you. There are three main ways to do this
Every business should have a website. A place that explains what you do and a space where customers can seamlessly start buying from you. Your website has to be:
Another very important way to get noticed by your target audience is through blogging. With a blog, you can create valuable content for your target audience. Blogging is a great way to get discovered by reaching potential customers because as an internet interaction, it begins with you providing value to your customer. This is a gateway to providing them with more value and eventually converting them into paying customers.
When creating a blog for your business, use a funnel approach. With a funnel approach, you aim to convert strangers into readers and readers into customers. Keeping this mindset at the back of your mind ensures you create the best possible blog to convert customers
Social media is a vital key to getting new customers. Select the social media platforms you will be focusing on and develop marketing strategies for them. The same strategy will simply not work across all platforms. On Instagram, videos are the best kind of content to post but on Twitter, that is not the case. You also want to consider what kind of post is most likely to get engagement from your target market, or what is most likely to draw their attention. For businesses, it is important that you post regularly and consistently on your social media page. According to research on Louis Myers, the optimal frequency is once a day on Facebook.
About 15 tweets a day
And one a day on Instagram
Here are some effective strategies for staying active on social media and attracting customers.
In this article, you have learnt the importance of starting with your target market and how to do that. We broke down the steps to defining your target market.
This article also explained how to reach how to new customers by cold messaging and asking for referrals.
Finally, we told you how to get noticed by your target market through a website and social media.
Follow these steps and you should see those sales start climbing up
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