How well do you know your markets? Is your marketing strategy tailored to resonate with them effectively? How do you make them buy into your brand despite tons of competition?
When we say market, we are talking about both your customers and your competitors.
While there are many other market players, getting a full understanding of these two principal characters is what’s going to keep your brand ahead of the pack.
In this article, we are asking 3 crucial questions that will help you:
– Learn who your customers are and why they buy your products
– Pinpoint who your main competitors are — learn from their successes and failures
– Know what markets your competitors are overlooking and how you can win them over
But first, some context.
Why is this important?
Finding out what your customers are looking for pushes you to develop better products and services that address specific needs the way others do not.
In the same vein, learning how your competitors operate enables you to build on their products and strategies, sharpening your competitive advantage in the process.
How do I build strong market understanding?
Even large corporations cannot afford to target everyone.
Businesses these days know that an “inch wide, a mile deep” strategy is how you should target your customers.
Being able to compete with industry giants begins with a simple step: Target marketing.
Target marketing, in a nutshell, does not mean you are excluding other potential customers who do not meet your requirements. It simply means that you focus all your brand messaging on reaching your niche and spending all your marketing dollars toward that.
What does this mean in a practical sense?
Knowing who your customers are in a certain city is not enough. Dig deeper into their behaviours.
For example, if you want to target CEOs of large corporations in Australia, you might do geo-fenced digital ads around private golf clubs in Sydney using messages they resonate with.
But how exactly do you find your niche market?
Here are 3 questions you need to answer to help you get to know your market better.
Question #1: Who are my current customers and why do they buy from me?
Get into the nitty-gritty of your target market. Focus on the tiny details that paint a clear picture of who your target market is.
For clarity, break it down into two categories: Demographics and Psychographics — the things that determine what internal motivations your target markets have, as well as what external factors affect their purchasing decisions.
To determine demographics, ask questions like:
How old are they? How much do they earn? Where do they live and work? What is their education level? What is their ethnicity? What is their marital status?
To determine psychographics, ask questions like:
What is their personality? What attitudes do they possess? What do they value? What interests them? What are their hobbies? What lifestyles do they live? What are their behaviours?
Look for shared interests and characteristics, and determine which ones bring in more dollars. If possible, take these commonalities and determine a second target niche that can also benefit from your products.
Making sure your target market is as specific as possible gives you the clarity you need to determine where and how to market your brand.
Question #2: Who are my competitors?
Getting to know your competitors is crucial because it helps you determine who they are targeting and who their current customers are.
This is where proper research is needed.
Study trade websites, newspapers, and social media. Try out their services. Talk to their customers. Run surveys. Search for blogs and forums where your competitors’ target markets communicate their opinions.
At the end of the day, you should be able to answer questions like:
What language are they using? How are they showcasing their products? What problems are they solving? What marketing and branding initiatives are working and which ones are not? What needs are they not addressing?
Question #3: What niche markets are my competitors overlooking?
Now that you have an idea of how your competitors operate and where they are found wanting, your next step is to build on those insights so you can stand out.
Our tip is to focus first on the markets they are currently overlooking. And, when done right, build from there.
Doing so helps remove barriers to entry, especially when going head to head with established brands.
To drive this point, we look to our award-winning client espresso Displays — the makers of the world’s thinnest portable monitors.
When they started, their market was dominated by either big enterprises like Dell and HP or relatively unknown but exceptionally low-cost (and low-quality) alternatives.
We helped espresso address this challenge by tapping into a niche market that wants to get more from their work and life; those that want a top-quality monitor that will enable them to take their work anywhere — whether on a tropical island or on mountain tops.
When competitors were solely using product specs to market their products, espresso was winning over customers by selling a lifestyle. Today, we have helped them grow their business 24x in just 12 months of working with us.
It all comes down to what you are selling and how you can create a story that will make your product stand out from the rest.
So, ask yourself: What niche markets are my competitors overlooking? What gaps can my business fill? How can I differentiate my business from the rest?
Quality over quantity
It can be easy to lose your focus when you are chasing numbers. But that should not be the goal.
In the words of Wired magazine’s founding executive editor Kevin Kelly in his famous 2008 essay, find your “1,000 true fans” — they are the people who:
“will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.”
Today, these true fans are what we call “brand evangelists” — the customer who is so infatuated with what you are selling that they share their positive experience throughout their circles… for free.
Regardless of the decade, word-of-mouth marketing is considered the cheapest and most effective form of marketing. To create this kind of buzz, focus your energy on the quality of customers you are getting.
Who are your current customers? Who are the most loyal? When you figure out who those are, ask yourself if they are product-led or brand-led. Your efforts should be directed at your brand-led customers.
Why? Because they are the ones who are most likely to become brand evangelists.
Ask yourself: Are we building evangelists for our brand? Do we have the right messaging in place to enable that? Do we have a consistent brand experience to facilitate that evangelism within our brand?
Getting to know your markets starts with asking the right questions honestly and getting to the answers in the most strategic ways possible. Building on this kind of clarity is key to pushing your business forward and achieving exponential growth.
Over the years, we have helped clients like espresso Displays and Vanessa Megan achieve magnitudinal success in crowded markets, even when industry giants abound. Partner with us today if you want us to do the same for you.