As a development company, I have found that it is really important to understand all the various business technologies, strategies and tools for all aspects of business, in order to best serve our clients. Whether you are a client or a developer building digital products, it is important to know how business works. It will allow you as business people to know what is possible, and as digital product developers, it will allow you to develop better products.
As a digital business owner, I am always on the lookout for new ways to appeal to our target market and the target market of our clients. However, before you can really apply any new business and marketing methods, it is important to start by understanding your market.
Over the past few years, markets have seen exponential expansion, more so in the digital realm. Understanding your market means more than understanding just your customers. It includes competitors and suppliers, and is key to ensuring you can compete favorably in this rapidly growing space.
In addition to, and as part of understanding your market; figuring out the best Product Market Fit is a critical step in understanding your target market.
In this brief article, we are only going to focus on identification and initial outreach steps. For a more in-depth discussion on Product Market Fit, please check out our ScreamingBox Technology and Business Rundown podcast episode on Product Market Fit with guest Izzy Aspler
How can you understand your target market?
For digital business owners, understanding the market can be a daunting one because, most times, they do not physically meet their consumers and suppliers. How then can one gain valuable insight into market data and trends without meeting key actors in the industry? We have broken down a few ways you can do that:
Conduct market research
There are several analytic tools at your disposal to help you gain an understanding of the digital business landscape. Tools like Quantcast, Alexa, and Google Trends give you comprehensive market and customer insights.
Market insights help you identify your competitors in the digital space and assess how your brand measures up against them. With these tools, you can assess their strengths and weaknesses, and also look at customer experiences with them. Are you able to exploit the gaps left by your competitors?
A comprehensive understanding of your competitors’ niche target market, pricing strategies, and shortcomings will give you the upper hand for situating your brand favorably in the marketplace.
Identify your niche
Market segmentation is key to defining and understanding your target market. Because the online market is vast and continually expanding, it is vital to specify your niche target market and create an easily identifiable unique brand that stands out.
A major part of identifying a niche target market is building a buyer persona. A buyer persona is basically a semi-fictional character who is a representation of your brand’s ideal customer. Creating one involves rigorous market research, previously gathered customer data like demographics and consumer habits, and some assumptions.
Having a buyer persona for your brand allows you to address the precise pain points, needs, and challenges your target market has. It also allows your brand to direct its marketing and communication efforts at people who are highly likely to become customers, increasing not just your profits and sales, but also your brand’s ROI.
Build a strong social media presence
For social media, consistency is key. This applies to brands too. To understand your market, you need to engage regularly with consumers and key actors across different social media platforms. Exploit hashtags relevant to your brand to drive more traffic your way and widen your consumer base.
Many digital brands are leveraging blogs to maintain interaction with customers and potential clients, offering them valuable industry information. We do this, and this article is an example of that marketing focus and for us it attracts potential clients to our site and provides useful information.
Analyze competitor sentiment on social media and look at the social media platforms that are their focus. Which one are they investing in the most? What are consumers saying about them? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Follow key figures and influencers in the industry for valuable market insights. What are their opinions on important issues? Who are they talking to? Who are they partnering with? Leverage this information to guide your decision-making processes.
Once you understand your target market more thoroughly, you can look at which social media platforms will reach your target market the best. This will help you focus on the most impactful ones first to generate a result, and you can later decide if the other platforms justify a large or small investment.
Focus on customer service as a source of insight
Quality customer service is an excellent source of real time insight into the needs of your target market. Traditionally, businesses have relied on a combination of quantitative and qualitative data from customer surveys, focus groups, and interviews.
Unfortunately, these methods are error prone because they rely on customers’ memories, which may not always be the most accurate representation of their experience with your product or service.
Customer service staff are in constant contact with your customers and can collect valuable data to offer insight into how your clients feel about your product or service. They can take further steps to help you understand your market by asking for immediate feedback on products, issues, and any suggestions consumers may offer.
Analyze your brand’s offerings
To gain a proper understanding of your market, you should have a proper understanding of your brand first. What problems do your products and services solve? Who do they appeal to? Write out lists that outline these products and services, the benefits they offer, and the people likely to purchase them.
For example, a software development company could target companies and individuals interested in developing websites and native apps for their businesses. Understanding your business and what it has to offer allows you to make the right decision when choosing a niche target market and building a buyer persona.
In the wake of the pandemic, consumer habits have become increasingly labile, and understanding your market is an invaluable step toward serving the ever-changing and ever-growing needs of the digital marketplace.