Paul Haarman: Are you targeting the right market for your product/service?

Before launching a business or product, you should always determine the type of clients that are likely to buy your products/services says Paul Haarman. Let’s take an example. Every year, thousands of entrepreneurs launch new businesses in the form of cybercafes. Many entrepreneurs invest millions of Naira in setting up these cybercafes across Lagos state and other parts of Nigeria. However, what they don’t realize is that there are only about 2 million Internet users in this country with no more than 90% accessing the Internet through their mobile phones!

The MBA error:

MBA students are always taught how to market products but very few are trained on target marketing. More often than not, people will set out to sell to everyone without knowing whom they really want as clients. For example, I went to the University of Lagos (UNILAG) market one day and handed out samples of my juices to students who were walking around the school explains Paul Haarman. At first, I thought that everyone would love my juice especially because it contains antioxidants which are key ingredients for eradicating free radicals that lead to cancer! Imagine how surprised I was when most of them brushed me off like an annoying fly!!!

The dentist’s mistake:

If you want proof, just go to any dental clinic in Nigeria; typically, there will be lots of women lining up for breast enhancement surgery but hardly anyone is getting their teeth fixed. The reason? Dentists don’t know how to target their marketing efforts. No doubt about it; people with perfect teeth definitely have an edge over those without. But the price of fixing teeth and breast enhancement surgery is beyond the reach of 90% of Nigerians! If you want to learn more about this topic, I suggest you read my article: How Nigerian businesses fail due to poor marketing.

What can we take from these examples?

My point is simple: as a businessman/woman, you need to discover what “sells” in your environment before investing your energy into that area. In other words, don’t market outside of your target audience! So how exactly do you go about targeting a specific group of people? Let me tell you how it’s done…

Planning a product launch? Consider these 4 things:

  1. Who wants my services?
  2. How do I reach those people?
  3. What will my “marketing message” be?
  4. Why should they choose me over my competitors?

What if your target market is not as big as you think?

Paul Haarman says you may discover that your target market is so small that it makes little sense to invest in them. If this is the case, it’s time to rethink and redefine who exactly you want as clients. It might also be a good idea to re-look at your business model and figure out how you can craft a better product /service for your ideal client or customers! This process of fine-tuning your business model might make all the difference between an abysmal failure and a runaway success! Here is an article that I wrote a few months ago that might help: How to determine your business model.

Here are some FAQs recently asked by my blog readers:

1. What is the best way to come up with business ideas?

2. How can I ensure that my business idea will succeed?

3. How do you analyze your target market?

4. Can online companies use direct marketing techniques to promote their products/services? Visit this link for more on how businesses are successfully utilizing online platforms to drive sales.

5. Should you go after large or small markets first?

6. What are the most effective marketing techniques for small businesses?

7. How can I get people to buy my product/service?

8. Do today’s consumers prefer printed materials when they are shopping around for products/services?

9. Which is more important, focus or diversification?

10. Does one go after a high level or mass markets when launching a new product?

11. Which marketing techniques offer the best payout in terms of ROI?

12. Is advertising through social media more effective than advertising through traditional media such as radio and television?

13. What are the best ways to market my online business?

14. When is the best time to launch a new product/service?

15. Which medium has the best ROI for small businesses?  (Print, radio, television)

16. Can you recommend any good marketing books that are relevant to Nigerian businesses?

In conclusion:

If you want to run a successful business or product launch, it’s critical for you to understand whom you are selling to. The same applies when dealing with people who might invest in your products/services explains Paul Haarman. Every investor wants a return on his/her investment but they may not be interested in the same type of product or service as someone else! If you can’t target your market effectively, then there is no logical way that you can deliver returns to those who want them from you. So be careful; don’t waste time and energy trying (and failing) to sell what won’t sell!

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