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Building a tribe of loyal customers in the jungle of business

You want to start your own business – you’ve got a product or service, a company name, you’ve scribbled a mission statement on a napkin and the new desks are coming in next week… But you need customers


Without specifying who you’re aiming for, you may as well be selling air-conditioning in Siberia. Brr.

Defining and acquiring your target audience is one of the first steps for anyone looking to start their own business.

Here are some important points to consider and implement:

1. Know your audience better than they know themselves   You need to know exactly who your target audience are, what demographic they fit into, what they need, and how to get them what they need. Being as specific as possible is key. Who is the target audience for high-budget sporty-gear giant Kathmandu? 25 to 35 year old adrenaline junkies with an income of $100,000 or higher who are into hiking, canoeing, bungee-jumping, trail runs and getting muddy in beautiful parts of the world, probably with mates who have similar passions and a lot of free time to indulge in them – think James Franco in 127 Hours. Yes, that specific.

2. Address or create the need for your product   There are two ways to determine the need: one is to cater for an existing gap in the market, and the other is to create a new demand that consumers didn’t realise they desired. Did culinary mothers of the world know that they wanted a Multi-Use Kitchen Essential Vegetable Chopper And Dicer to chop all their carrots? I doubt it.

3. Tell your audience how to fulfill their need: call your tribe to action!   This is where you sell your product or service. It should be the answer to your consumers’ needs – a ‘magic pill’ that will make everything better if they only come to you. Be clear about what you’re offering so you don’t overload them with too many messages, which can become confusing and may put them off eventually. Clarity and brevity in what you communicate to your target public are important.

4. Give your product or service away   No, I don’t mean freebies and prizes. The Internet and social media are a great tool for communicating to a wide range of people, and giving away free advice and tips to consumers. Their trust and respect of your business will grow through the helpful information you supply them with, thus creating loyal customers who will always come back for more to a company who shows they care, are constructive and informative.

5. Be consistent and feed the beast   Consistency is an important part of many elements of life: exercise, healthy eating, practicing a language, calling your mother back… And the same goes with nurturing your target audience. Offering a means of engagement and stimulation regularly can help keep customers loyal and up to date with company news, changes, promotions, offers and discussions. Implement ideas that can build a database: such ideas include blog posts, newsletters, podcasts, explainer video, whiteboard animation or forums about issues, demands and advice. Think of regularly fattening a pig for slaughter – without the slaughter bit, of course.

Getting your target audience wrong will completely miss the bullseye and your product will fall to the attention of a vague, indifferent group of people. Make sure to define them as specifically as possible, know their needs, capture their attention and keep a hold of it.

By Joanna Michalowski

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