Imagine you are a performing artist at a concert with multiple stages, with artists from across the world performing various genres of music. You are die-hard roots and reggae performer. You have long flowing locks and prescribe to the faith of Rastafari. You decide to dedicate your first song, a rendition of Bob Marley’s Iron, Lion, Zion. The red, yellow and green drape the stage. You pull out all the cultural reggae stops to get your fans in the mood on your stage. You are ready and fired up after taking a moment to centre yourself.
You dash on stage with your guitar, locks swinging violently only to realise the stage you are on is the R&B stage with dim lighting, setting the sensual mood. The crowd falls silent and you are both left wondering…WHAT THE HELL?
Your business is that performing artiste. You develop different services and products, but your marketing or sales approach often lands you on the wrong stage, where no one cares about what you are offering.
There is a reason we call it a target market. Targeting anything means you have a laser focus on one key thing. That means that in the scheme of offering a service or product either for-profit or non-profit, “everyone” can never be a market. Never.
Here are a few pointers for you, as a business owner or NGO trying to support a community, to focus your energies to grow impact in your work.
Know the solution you are offering: I think the biggest mistake we make sometimes is the need to provide a solution for everything. You have a detergent that cleans clothes leaving a great scent that lasts longer, you sell shampoo that leaves people with silky soft and growing hair, you sell coaching and accounting services. One organisation doing all of this is extremely confusing.
Focus on one thing, once that builds traction then iterate. The secret is, you should be able to say what you do in one short sentence to your target audience. For example. We offer support to parents with children with special needs in Wajir County.
I know what you do, who you work with and where. Simple. That way if I want to fund your operations, or provide solutions to special needs in areas like Wajir I already know who to partner with.
Understand who you are offering services: If we are to work with the example – Support parents with special needs children in Wajir – You need to understand the unique struggle of these parents in this area. Many parents with special needs children may have universal common challenges, but there are additional unique challenges these parents in Wajir face. When you do your research and understand them, you improve your offering and make it more attractive for them to purchase or sign up to your NGO for support.
Understand your limitation: Even though we have a unique offering, it is essential to understand how far you go. If your support to parents with differently-abled children in Wajir is psycho-social support and after-school programs customised to their children’s unique needs, does it make business sense to start agribusiness projects to help parents feed their families?
You need to see what you can do, and in areas where there are additional needs, why not partner with organisations that can pick up from where you can operationally support. That way you build a pipeline of partnerships to grow impact.
Engage with your Target Audience: You cannot truly support a specific demographic if you do not engage with them. I highly recommend organising events. If your target audience is in cities, plan an engagement in the city to see, interact and understand them from a human level. If your business is in a rural area, local community meetings are a great way to get understanding and buy-in. Humans need a human touch, there is only so much digital media can do with human interaction. Meet the people, understand them, they understand you, and in turn, you build a bond.
Engage your Audience in the Right Medium: My philosophy when training organisations, is to advertise where your target audience exists. There is no need for four social media accounts when none of your target audiences engages there. Being targeted also means being strategic. For example – if you are offering business coaching services to executives, why in the world are you advertising it on Facebook? Your audience determines the medium, not the other way round.
Precision saves resources: When you can clearly define your target audience, how it sources its information and how it engages with it. You spend less time and energy. Because your engagement speaks to them, you have a faster rate of business conversion. Being deliberate, strategic and yes, targeted helps your bottom line.