a situation in which a product, service, etc. that is potentially wanted or needed by consumers is identified by a business as not being supplied by rival companies.
That’s how Oxford Languages define it. Who knew you could be so literal!
But how do you define your own, that is, of course, if you do?
It’s a great question to ask yourself.
When you pull together a business plan, it’s such an important step to include. A lot of the time, though, at least from those of previous clients I’ve taken on, the research isn’t quite there at the level it needs to be.
To get that well-researched, detailed estimate of how many clients or businesses are in your target market, as well as the number of potential sales you could make from that market, you need to think outside of the go-to basics.
If your answer is narrow and only focuses on WHAT you work with, then you might want to look at it from a slightly different point of view. You get the usual “We work with SMEs” or “We help start-ups in the tech industry”.
Honestly, that doesn’t really cut it, and nor does it show that you understand YOUR opportunity as a peer of your clients. When you start to show that you’re more than just another business keen to work with someone, that’s where your true value comes through.
It’s not always about one specific sector that you can support, it’s also about a specific need or pain point that you can solve.
So, let’s get specific. Can you segregate your target client based on factors?
There are a whole host of variables of the people you want to work with, or already do. Things such as age, lifestyle, purchasing power, and that good old-fashioned common pain point I mentioned earlier.
But how can you find out about these things when you are a small business owner with a budget?
Would you even know where to begin?
There are some really great tools such as Hootsuite Insights, Instagram hashtags, Google trends, and even polls on LinkedIn that can help you to gather more data in an inexpensive way and are a great place to start.
You also need to consider the bigger picture. I know, not fun when you’re trying to be optimistic in your business plans and future thinking!
Take external trends, for example, sure a lot of them are going to negatively impact the way your target audience interacts with your business, but we can also use them to create opportunities.
Out of chaos comes opportunity, as they say!
Think about the wider influence and knock-on effects that could impact you and your clients.
Climate issues, an increase in taxes, new legislation being passed, global pandemics… How will this impact you?
It doesn’t end there. Technology, with accelerated advancements in this area, what opportunities will this create for you to support your clients? Not to mention the ‘I’ word. Inflation. Plus, the ever-increasing wage bill, combined with where and how we work is creating constant challenges AND opportunities.
That then brings me onto lifestyles and the way we are becoming less tolerant in many ways. It’s both a positive and a negative. Clients seek value and support before they buy from you, and they’re now interested in the whole dynamic of the business before deciding to make the purchase. A huge win if you really take pride in what you do and how you do it, and a kick up the rear if you need to work on that area.
The importance of people buying from people is more prevalent than it was before. You see people discussing it everywhere!
But why is that?
Bizarrely, the digital world has led to our economies opening up and people wanting to know you before they buy from you – even if it is through a computer screen!
There’s less loyalty for the bigger brands and the same can be said for the small ones too, which means value, authenticity, and convenience is the name of the game.
If you have those mapped out clearly for your business and you know the whos, whys, and hows of the services you offer for a wide range of demographics, then you’re taking a huge step in the right direction.
With all of that information comes the ability to market properly and in a more cost-effective way, to pitch easier and come through with solutions instantly, and to keep that business as a returning customer through the level of detail and interest you gave them.
One final tip, and the most obvious one of all which often gets forgotten about – talk to your existing clients.
Why do they choose to work with you?
What makes you different?
What was the moment that they chose to work with YOU?
Take all that information and use it to your advantage. Your current clients are your biggest cheerleaders!