Starting a business? How to identify the right audience for your products and services?

BY: Andrews Ayiku
Andrews Ayiku, Lecturer, University of Professional Studies, Accra
Andrews Ayiku, Lecturer, University of Professional Studies, Accra

Are you thinking of starting a business in transport services, waste management, agriculture and farming, hand sanitisers or facemasks production? Finding the right target audience contributes to success and sustainability of your business.

Every startup must clearly understand the market landscape and dynamics in order to minimise whatever risk will be associated with their product and service performance.

Regardless of the product or services you offer, you need to describe your target market to find potential customers and clients.  The target market is the group of consumers that best fits the offer and who your product and services will most appeal to.  

The entrepreneur will have the opportunity to define their target audience, the specific customer segment and profile, their taste and preferences, their touch points and personality.  

Key questions to consider include: Is your product or service targeting everybody as a startup?  Who are your audience? What do they buy? Where do they buy and how do they buy?

How are you segmenting the market, targeting and positioning your products and services to the customers?

Some ways to find the right audience include:

Diagnose the problem and needs of your audience
Start-ups need to put themselves in their customer’s shoes by identifying their problems and need for which their business will create value.

They further need to connect emotionally and really communicate with the target audience by meeting them on their own territory and listening more to their needs and wants.

Listening more will allow the entrepreneur to pick up a lot of potentially valuable information that you will be able to use to become more successful.  

Think about the customer’s specific pain they want to solve.  Do they need door step delivery services? Do they need easy payment systems? Do they need 24-hour customer support?  

Undertake a market Research
Every startup must identify existing data and literature on their industry, market, competition, prospective customers in relation to their pain, interest and purchasing power.

The startup will have to identify their strength and weaknesses along with opportunities and threats.

Conducting a market research will help to understand the market trends, customer buying habits, age, gender, occupation, income level, marital status, lifestyle, attitude and behaviour.

Understanding these factors that contribute to the market and purchase path is a critical step to helping startups identify the right target audience. You can do this by undertaking interviews, survey and focus groups in the target market.

Develop a customer profile
A startup needs to have a detailed and factual description of their target audience and include their demographics, customer service interactions and their buying behaviour.

Furthermore, the startup needs to take time to carve out the ideal customer profile for their products or services in order to notice patterns that may prove useful in targeting advertising.

Most startups don’t have an in-depth description of who their typical customer maybe.  They normally describe their customers as everybody rather than classifying them base on demographic, age, gender, location, ethnicity, income, as well as psychographic lifestyles, attitude, values, hobbies interest etc.

Observe your competition
One of the ways to identify the right audience for your business is by observing the competition and their best-selling products or services to understand who they are targeting, how they are targeting, the process of targeting and consider if that fits into your own business model and structure. 

Your competition provides insight into the ideal audience by identifying the top two or three products or services that compete with yours. 

The startup also needs to review the marketing and social media strategies of their competitors and focus on their pricing model and their pricing positioning.  This will help the startup develop their competitive advantage and have tailor-made superior products.

Tracking the process
In order for the startup to successfully segment, target and position its products and services, there is the need to track its process of getting, keeping and growing its customers.  The system of tracking should be put in place before they begin the process of marketing their products to the customers.

The writer is a Lecturer at the University of Professional Studies, Accra, Ghana
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