Continued from Part 3 (or start at Part 1)…

By now, you have figured out your product, how it benefits the customer, and what sets your product apart from the competitors.  The next question to answer is:

  • Who is your “target” customer?

One of the biggest mistakes I made in my first business was to try to sell to anybody and everybody.  About the only thing it did for my reputation was make me look like a desperate salesman.   We’ve all heard the stories of the unethical salesman who could sell fleas to a 3-legged dog.  However, most of us are 1, not that good at selling, and 2, want our customers to return for repeat business (which I don’t thing the 3-legged dog did!).  In order to get to that point, you must find your “target” customer base. 

The simple fact that pertains to any business is that not everyone will be interested in your product.  Some folks prefer scrapbooking while others spend on make-up.  Some folks prefer goats to cows.  Some folks desire specific goats such as Alpines, Boer goats, or even cheap, unregistered mixed-breeds.  Some people shop based on price, while others look for specific colors or bloodlines.  Veterinarians build their businesses around people who own animals; carpenters look for people who appreciate fine wood-working.  It will save you a lot of discouragement and frustration if you just accept right now that you cannot and will not be able to sell to everyone or make everyone happy with your product. 

So how do you find your target customer?

The easiest way is to find people like yourself.  In my early years, I was once instructed (wrongly) to seek out upper-class people with money, as they could afford to buy the products.  There were several problems with this, though.  First, I limited myself based on social class.  That’s never a good thing.  People of all classes will spend on products that are important to them (remember Part 2,  when I discussed the importance of getting the customer to understand how your product benefits him?).  Secondly, I was intimidated by upper-class people, and did not do well when I met with them–if I got a meeting to begin with.  I had the most success with people of my own social class and/or who had similiar interests.  That is when I learned to look first for people like me.  Later, when my scrapbooking business was built, I was able to enjoy not worrying about social class.  I targeted people who enjoyed getting together to chit-chat, who had photos, and who wanted their efforts to preserve memories to last as long as possible.  That type of target worked much better for me. 

Next, consider who your ideal customer would be.  Will you sell your product to anybody off the street?  Do you want repeat customers?  Do you want to limit your product to local customers, or are you willing to sell long-distance?  In the event of long-distance sales, is your product legal to cross state lines?  If you are willing to sell to out-of state customers, will you ship, or will you want them to come to your farm to pick up?  Are you selling live animals and desire them to go to a certain type of home?  Are you wanting to sell animals to established farms, or do you want to help start new farms?  Are you willing to help customers out with livestock paperwork and permits?  There is no single right answer, but your answer will help determine how involved you need to be with future marketing and customer relations.

Finally, developing a target customer base does not mean you are limited to that type of customer.  It just gives you a guideline to build your business around.  You will then learn with experience how to cater to people that don’t meet your target criteria, and you may even change your target as time goes by.  I see the purpose of the target like an outline for an essay.  It gives you focus and direction, helps prevent excess frustration and discouragement, encourages you to be realistic, and can always be changed as drafts are created and finalized. 

Now, figure out your target, and you’ll be ready for Part 5.