We’ve all been there. You start a business. You put an enormous amount of effort, man hours, research and resources into a new business venture. You plan the launch meticulously: the countdown, the anticipation, the angst, until finally… you’re live! All of a sudden your fear is replaced with pride, excitement and a great sense of accomplishment. It seems like the perfect fairy tale, except, it doesn’t last forever. You get to a point where all your friends and family have posted, promoted, recommended and endorsed your business to their own friends, followers, mums, dads aunties, cousins and whoever else will listen. After those have been exhausted, you then realise, you’re on your own.
Every startup business gets to a point where you run out of friends-of-friends-of-friends. It’s at that point that you need to drop the whole narrative of “Black people don’t support each other” and think about what you’ve actually done to go out of your way to find and target your customers. The truth is, many people don’t know how to properly promote themselves, or are too simply too lazy to do so. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. You can’t expect the entire promotion of your business to depend on the generosity of your family and friends. It’s your responsibility. Though they may bring you leads, clients or customers, when payday comes, it’s ultimately you that’s cashing in. Therefore, you should be the one doing most of the work when it comes to promoting.
You need to spend time profiling your ideal customer. Be very deliberate about finding out what does the typical person who uses your goods/ services look like. What blogs do they subscribe to, what books to they read, what events do they go to, are they fashion conscious, eco-friendly, conservative, eccentric, activists, tech nerds? You need to build a clear picture of what your typical customer is like, so you can figure out how your product or service fits into their life and most importantly, how it meets a need that they have. For example, you’ve just started a wedding planning company. Not every bride is your potential customer. Let’s say your company specialises in organising intimate weddings for reserved couples. You’d need to meet their needs in terms of budget, size, style and ambiance. Start asking yourself, ok, if I were somebody who were to use my service, what kind of job would I have, what sorts of activities or entertainment would I enjoy, what style of décor represents my personality, am I family or friends orientated, am I following mainstream wedding pages, or boutique design services? All of these clues would help you discover the types of platforms you need to promoting on, the other companies in your sector you could be collaborating with, the types of networking events you should go to, to find people of interest and it ultimately puts you in a position where you are marketing yourself to the right audience at the right time.
What I’m saying is, the reason why it may seem as though your family or friends may not be supporting you, or buying into your product/service is because they aren’t your target audience. Of course, if you haven’t spent time profiling your target audience, you wouldn’t know this. Does that mean that they will never buy from you or promote you? No. It just means that you aren’t getting a return on your marketing efforts because you are saying the wrong thing to the wrong people, at the wrong time. Having said that, there is a way of targeting sub-groups of people, who may not be your ideal customer, but may be a secondary or tertiary customer and can still benefit from your products. Big brands do it all the time. Take McDonalds, for example. It has a regular menu, which remains almost unchanged, year after year. However, it released a Signature line of burgers, to appeal to a segment of its audience who have a more developed palette and would happily pay premium price for gourmet burgers. McDonalds has also recently introduced two variations of small chicken wraps to appeal to parents of children who are picky eaters, by increasing the variety in its happy meals. These are fantastic examples of how to appeal to a specific segment of individuals, who may not have traditionally fallen within your core audience. This, of course is not where you would spend the majority of your efforts or resources, however there is still a chance convert more people to your business, who may have been missed off otherwise. The key is always making sure your efforts are deliberate and targeted.
So, friends, don’t be disheartened. Don’t be quick to call out people for “not supporting” or being “haters”. Challenge yourself to take a deep dive into your customer’s world and along the way, you should find yourself on your way towards their wallet
For 1:1 advise on how to profile customers, specific to your sector and your brand, shoot me an email via firstname.lastname@example.org