In desining a customer-driven marketing strategy, you will probably want to direct your efforts toward a small specialized public or "niche." Niche marketing can provide a start-up with an opportunity to launch a business successfully even in today's crowded arena, according to marketing experts Dr. Afarin Bellisario and Peter Geisheker. For example, the successful Swiss company Laurastar has targeted people who want to press clothes at home to professional-level quality, selling them a high-end home pressing system. 1. Figure Out Who Your Customers Are
* If you do not already have a clear idea of who your customer is, you need to figure this out. Do not try to be everything to everybody. You are looking for a group of consumers or businesses that share a very specific need or want, according to Geisheker. Look around you, read magazines and trade publications, talk to people and study existing businesses and products to find a void that you can fill. If you already have a product, you'll need to "find the people who stay up at night worrying about the problem your product or service solves, and you have just found your niche market," Geisheker said. For example, if you have invented a new ergonomic chair that helps with lower back pain, your customers will be people with pain in their lower backs. 2. Get to Know Your Customers Well
* Find out they live, as well as their habits, needs and desires. Go out and meet and observe your customers wherever you can find them. Talk to them, observe them, ask them about what they want and need, and listen very carefully. Do not assume that you know already. For example, the owner of a shop selling clothes for the over-40 woman might go to restaurants and bars in her town and observe over-40 women to see what they are wearing. English retail expert Mary Portas takes her clients, who are all boutique owners losing money, out to meet their identified customers on her BBC TV show "Mary Queen of Shops." 3. Figure Out How to Reach Your Customers
* Where do they live? What publications do they read? Where do they congregate? What TV shows do they watch? What websites do they visit? Who is serving this customer now, and how effectively? Once you know, you can figure out where to place advertising or where to go in person. The inventor of the ergonomic chair, for example, might put sample chairs in chiropractors' offices or assisted-living residences. Focus Your Efforts and Promotions
* Get rid of any stock or service you have that does not apply to your targeted customer. Have a sale or sell it off at a flea market or outlet store, whichever is appropriate. This will get you some money for product development and promotion (although you may have sold the old product at a loss). Get in your new stock, or organize your service and redecorate if needed, to appeal to the taste of your newly identified customer. Target your promotion toward that buyer. Continue to listen to and observe your customer and further refine your approach, continuing to give him what he needs and wants. Set yourself off from your competition. Show your customer why he or she should buy from you. * 2
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7. The process of defining and subdividing a large homogenous market into clearly identifiable segments having similar needs, wants, or demand characteristics. Its objective is to design a marketing mix that precisely matches the expectations of customers in the targeted segment. 8. Few companies are big enough to supply the needs of an entire market; most must breakdown the total demand into segments and choose those that the company is best equipped to handle. Four basic factors that affect market segmentation are (1) clear identification of the segment, (2) measurability of its effective size, (3)...