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Two Things Your Small Business Audience Needs

Owning and operating a small business is pretty easy, in all honesty.

Think about it for a second: you find something you do well and offer it to people who you believe need it. That’s it. That’s all you have to do to have a semi-successful business. Doesn’t matter whether you’re selling toothbrush holders or marketing advise. It basically comes down to what you do well and who needs it.

Most small businesses get this – at least partly. They almost always understand the ‘what’ part of the equation They know what they do. And they can go into great detail explaining it to you. But most forget the second part of the equation – the ‘who’ part.

Who is so important that I’ll go out on a limb and say that if you’re not focused, highly focused on who – that is who needs what you have – then you’re likely not very successful. Moreover, if you have been successful without focusing on who, then you’re lucky. And luck means one of two things – either your business will dry up or you’re only getting a tiny portion of what could be an enormous business. Either way, the solution is to focus on who – who does your business serve?

So let’s look at a couple of different approaches to how we might go about finding who:

  1. You can ask a question like, “who is it that needs what you have to offer?” Ligitimate question, right? You sit down and consider where the people are who need what you have. You might ask friends or colleagues. You might even hire a marketing expert to help you ‘find them.’ You can take this approach and you can be fairly successful. Though I have to say there are more obstacles to finding out what your audience really needs. Not to mention the time you spend trying to find the people who need what you got, can be daunting.
  2. Another option is you can ask people what they need. If you’re clear on what you can offer, then find out what people need. You do this by asking them directly. Find people who might be among your target audience and ask them a few questions about what they believe they need. On the web you can do this easily with a short survey. Drive people to the survey and capture the results. People will almost always tell you what they need. Then, adjust your offer so that you’re meeting them where their need is.

The second option is the one that saves time, effort and resources. It helps you position your business to create more sales faster and for a more sustainable time. Knowing what your audience actually wants creates a familiarity between you and your prospective customer by them feeling as though they’re needs are understood a bit by your business.

Marketing has always been about placing what you do in front of the person that needs it when they’re in a position to buy. You can give yourself a leg up on the process by finding out what people need – from their own mouths. Doing so, you remove a large portion of the guess work. And then, you can truly deliver the product or service that they know they need.

How have you learned what your audience wants? Have you asked them directly? If so, how has this changed your development process?

And if you’re not asking your audience directly for what they need, what’s one thing ย  you can do today to begin?

Let’s talk about it.

(note: image from anyjazz65 on Flickr, some rights reserved)

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  1. A small business has the unique advantage of having its ears to the ground for first hand information. This unfiltered information is sufficient to stay focused on what you wish to do with your business as long as your aim is to get better, not bigger. The problems start when the business becomes too big for one person to handle without losing that particular personal touch that makes it a constantly improving business.
    The only successful solution to this problem has been franchising, provided all the elements of the business has been mechanized to their ultimate detail.

  2. Lol, the picture you chose is really great.
    I will directly ask what my audience wants-when I have the chance to do this.
    Thanks for this article-I laughed a lot ! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Amit cohen says:

    Reading the first few lines, I thought to my self, Mmm, another philosophy..

    But, I must agree with what you saying and I want to take it one step ahead..This leads to CRM. Now days with all the “rush” that manage our life, where people don’t have time for themselves (Not to mention, time for other people) this is exactly the place where customer care is entering and where you turn the odds to your side. That little effort that you do to your clients, That extra tension, or time, or anything you may thing of.. this will bring you enormous results. This is the twin brother of “Knowing what your customers needs”. Service with personal touch.

    But, Hey!, don’t get too touchy, coze this may gives you troubles,
    If you know what I mean.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Amit Cohen

  4. Hi Dawud – I like the second option best. Sometimes – even when you send out a survey and ask customers what they want – they don’t always tell you – especially when it’s a matter of ticking off a few option boxes.

    Lots of my customers replied to a survey saying they’d really prefer to pay by debit or credit card. So I got a machine – and it was hardly used – most of them continued to pay with cash or cheque.

  5. I think the picture is ace too Olly ๐Ÿ™‚

    Good post Dawud I agree that the “who” is an extremely important part of advertising and one that is easily overlooked in online marketing, especially as online ad campaigns automatically target “everyone”.

    I think the online translation of targeting the who is carefully chosing the sites you advertise on, finding niche sites who’s target audience is the same as you.

  6. If I knew what my audience want, I would be a millionair hehe ๐Ÿ™‚

    I just wanted to say that you have written a great article-very, very interesting.

  7. Free Video Conferencing says:

    Haha, photos you showed are really catchy. That’s why i enjoy your topic a lot. I read it repeatedly and i found it good. Small business must find unique ways to compete with other large business.

  8. It’s quite easy to say. I started my own company when I was 23. When I was 25 I felt completely bored and needed to change something in my life. It’s not so easy though, especially when you have contracts signed. My advise – start normal job and don’t set your own business unless you’re 30 years old.

  9. Hey Jack,
    I also started my company at the age of 23. And I am 33 now. I changed some strategys related to my company and I am now (since 2 years!) able to say that I have learnt what my audience wants. A hard way to that point.

  10. DaveMurr says:

    Hi Dawud –

    Sorry I haven’t been around much. Been busy ๐Ÿ™‚

    The two most important questions a small business owner can ask.

    What if your business is a nonprofit? And your product is your message? Do the same questions apply?

  11. nickbutler says:

    I believed internet is the best way to understand what people wants… but the most people in internet want all for free

  12. Hi Dawud – I like the second option best
    great post thank you!

  13. Know what your audience wants is very important, I perfer running surveys for my audience.

  14. Great points – that’s one thing public speakers, and all small businesses often forget. Listening is just as important as talking! People like talking about themselves much more than you – if you’ll just be quiet about yourself for a minute, they’ll most likely tell you what you need.

  15. Just came to say that I don’t agree with this blog posts. For most small business owners I know, the first thing that they establish is their market – their “who”. They usually can’t afford to lose money on any great product if there isn’t anyone who’s going to buy it. So for me and my circle anyways, it’s the other way around. We find the market first before we find the product that they need.

  16. I tend to be market first as well and work on the product from that angle. It’s vital to know the customers and what gets them to buy, whether they actually need it or just think they do. Another benefit small companies have is their surveys seem to be more targeted and can give a better view of the market than a large business with a wide focus.

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