By Lea Hensel, Marketing Coordinator, UNI Business and Community Services
When it comes to starting, growing, or even sustaining a business, there are a lot of building blocks. There’s the business plan and financials. The physical or online location. Determining your business structure and managing employees. But unfortunately, a very important piece of that is often not clearly defined in the beginning - the customer.
From a marketing perspective, one of the first questions I will always ask is, “who is the target customer?” And more times than that, the response is along the lines of, “Well, everyone.”
From here, let’s go to one of the leading marketing experts.
“Everyone is not your customer.” - Seth Godin
Especially as a small business, it is critical to be clear about your customer. Not everyone has the same problem. Not everyone has the same needs or wants. Not everyone is going to be as passionate as you about your product or service. And if you don’t have a customer for your service or product, you don’t have a business.
Let’s use an advertising example. You’re going to set up a Facebook advertisement. When you get to the demographics section, you’re not going to leave everything blank. To begin with, Facebook will prompt you that your target audience is too broad and make you narrow it down. So you’ll go through and alter location, characteristics, gender, age, etc. And why? Because not every Facebook user is your customer.
So if you haven’t given a lot of thought to your customer yet, are you wondering how to even start? One of my favorite resources is the Buyer Persona Template from Hubspot. It’s a great free template that can get you started in thinking about your customer. From there, use the information you already have available to you. If you’re an established business, who are your current customers? And especially, who are your returning customers? How did they learn about your product or service?
If you’re just getting started and in your business planning phase, a template like the one shared above is a great start. Plus, you’ll already have a really good grasp on who your customer is before you even officially start your business!
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how great the service or product is that you’ve built, “they” will not always come, especially if you don’t define who “they” are so you can know exactly how to turn them from potential customers into customers.