4 Questions to determine who will
I have lots of meetings with clients from businesses of different sizes selling all manner of products and services.
Such opportunities are eye-opening, and enriching and it is a privilege to engage with experts across a spectrum of enormous diversity, success and prosperity both locally, in different parts of the UK and overseas.
When it comes to business and brand building, however, I see a lack in levels of objectivity that evidences poor quality market research – or no real market research at all!
Defining a target market might appear easier for some businesses than for others. Even in cases where its easier there’s a temptation to be a little too relaxed. The famous 1989 movie ‘Field of Dreams’ alludes well. There is a sense that ‘If you build it, they will come.’ But will they? And, who?
Innovators, experts and business owners in various fields of proficiency and skill can find themselves wrapped up in a belief that everyone will want what they sell. But, while some may, not everyone will.
Whatever we supply, whether products or services (or both) our target market will never be everyone.
Most of us like our floors to be clean and so we vacuum them. Dyson, however, would never claim that everyone vacuuming floors will want to buy a Dyson product. Regardless of how Sir James Dyson might rate his own innovations and products he knows that only a select group will be sucked into Dyson’s sales funnel.
The ‘If you build it, they will come’ belief appears to be prevalent within the small business community. Small business owners, particularly of start-ups, can be so enthused by their desire to sell their proposition that they don’t spend sufficient time in the discipline of research and of understanding who will buy what they sell.
This is where the brand-building process is so vital. At the very least business owners should be able to answer the following four questions clearly and concisely:
1. How well does my company know its audience?
A clear and concise answer to this question should be something like: ‘I can easily describe our primary customer and know their demographic well—their age, level of education, aspirations, challenges and pains. Examples of our “typical” customer are easy for us to find.’
2. How well does my company know its offer?
The answer to this question should be as easy as: ‘My company knows its offer like “Heinz” sells “Beans”, “Apple” sells “iPhones” and ‘Unilever’ sells ‘Marmite’. Well, perhaps not the Marmite one!
An alternative response to this question might be: ‘We can clearly pitch in just a few words what we offer and people ‘get it’ straightaway.’
3. How clear am I about my competitors?
In my experience business owners will say they know about their competitors when what they mean is that they vaguely know they exist, in their town or city. This is not the same as them being clear about their competitors.
When speaking of the competitors to our business we all should be able to say something like: ‘I know accurately about the competitors to my business’, or ‘I am aware that my business is competing against a small number of competitors, which I can name and have studied’ or, another: ‘my business is competing against a large number of competitors that I have grouped and studied.’
4. How straight-forward are the brand challenges for my company?
All business brands will have their challenges, some more complex to deal with than others. Do you know the challenges of your brand, to your company? As business owners it is important that we know the challenges we face as a brand.
A response to this question might be: 'Our business has just one corporate brand and I know its challenges very well', or ‘Our business has multiple brands that don’t overlap or cause confusion.’
Our responses to questions such as these can only be known to us and form a foundation for us to build upon once we have carried out our best quality market research. And, only then can we know who we are targeting with our products or services. Only then can we have a confidence in reaching our target market with the right product at the right time and at the right price.
I guess my hankering was more to do with childhood memories of halcyon summer tea times with my family, when life seemed more fun and a lot less grown-up and demanding.
What I do love about Marmite, however, is how the product hasn’t really changed very much at all since it came to prominence in the 1920s, along with the transparent admission that the product is not for everyone. An understatement!
In fact, Marmite has been hugely successful in separating the entire market into ‘lovers’ and ‘haters’ and thus, as far as Marmite is concerned, two communities were born.
Marmite continues to inform the business brand and marketing sector even today, almost a hundred years on. The ‘End Marmite Neglect’ television campaign of 2013 was a great success, with a 14% increase in sales during the subsequent eight weeks of the campaign’s release.
Last year Marmite went with its ‘Gene Project’, the results of which claim that we either love or hate Marmite because of our DNA. This most recent campaign was supported by a mobile App used for facial recognition to determine a person’s genetic predisposition to their love or hatred of the product.
Ultimately, Marmite knows all too well that its market has to be understood and clearly defined. Marmite knows its audience, its offer, its competitors (evidenced by their advertising campaigns) and the challenges they have about their brand and product.
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