A common misconception around marketing as a small business is that you have to amass a large following in order for your marketing efforts to really pay off. Widely-acknowledge business brain Ramit Sethi does a great interview with The $100 Startup author Chris Guillebeau specifically around this idea, and it’s really poignant. Sure, both of these gentlemen have wildly successful blogs and thousands upon thousands of followers, but both agree that at the end of the day, getting clients and bringing in sales is all about creating a quality product or service that speaks to a very specific need, and offers a very specific solution. That’s marketability, right there.
There are a lot of great ideas for products and services that aren’t necessarily marketable (I’ve come up with plenty of them myself in Ah-ha! moments over the years). Just because something is interesting to you, and is perhaps even new or innovative, doesn’t mean people will be willing to pay for it. What will persuade them is having an intimate understanding of who your target market is, what their deepest, most prevalent needs are, based on their lifestyle, goals, challenges, etc., and why the solution you have to offer them not only speaks to that need/lack/want, but is unique in its own way from what else might already be out there.
So how can you tell if your idea is going to be well received, and better yet, marketable? Here are a few questions to do some heavy brainstorming around:
- What are the biggest needs, wants, challenges or lacks that my ideal client (i.e. target customer) has right now?
- What is the driver that need/lack/want/challenge (i.e. – something that doesn’t exist, something that’s not relevant, an evolving need for something better, a lack of accessibility to the solution, etc.)?
- What do I have to offer them in terms of my own knowledge, expertise and talent?
- How does my product or service directly speak to that need/lack/want/challenge, and what is it communicating (i.e. you CAN change careers and not worry about financial pitfalls, there IS something available for people who love cupcakes, but can’t eat gluten or dairy, or there IS a platform that provides a way for budding tech geniuses to connect with industry mentors, etc.)
- How will it change your customer’s life for the better, if they were to purchase it?
- Am I differentiating between the FEATURES and the personal BENEFITS? An energy drink that tastes great is a feature – the fact that it gives natural, lasting energy to perform your daily tasks better and live more energetically is a benefit. People buy the benefits, not the features.
- How is this different and unique from what’s already out there and/or available to my target market?
So you don’t need a huge following in order to position yourself for a full sales pipeline. You just have to have a really great, well-developed product, one that clearly homes in on that much-desired value that pushes your target customer to say, “Yea, I really need this – I can see how this is going to change my life in a positive manner.” There are tons of great questions that can help you work around this, and really suss out the core value and marketing message behind your unique product and service. Start with these and see what other questions you come up with, what answers arise, and what other ideas come to mind when you start asking yourself, “Would I buy this?”