How to Find Your Customers and Own Your Market

By Jim Cathcart

Today, you plan to make sales – but to whom? Who are your targeted prospects? Where are your most likely buyers? Which among them will be your best customers? And, by the way, where will you start?

For almost every product or service there are buyers who hope to find them. Your buyers are out there – and many of them are hoping you, or someone like you, will show up with the solution to their needs or wants.

How to Define Your Market

A market is a group of people with enough in common that you can establish a reputation among them.

When seeking your ideal buyers, there are three ways to look: from the outside, from the inside, and from your own point of view.

The outside view is looking for markets that share enough common characteristics that you can easily communicate with them. There are

  • Industry markets: automotive, financial services, real estate, construction, publishing, etc.

  • Professions: medicine, dentistry, chiropractic, accounting, law, architecture, education, and so forth.

  • Social markets and hobbies: country club members, golfers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, runners, bird watchers, do-it-yourselfers, yoga enthusiasts, and more.

  • Language or cultural markets: Speakers of English (especially in non-English countries), Mandarin, Vietnamese, German, French, etc.

  • Fans: sports, celebrities, and music genres. There are also Star Trek fans (Trekkies), comic book collectors, Notre Dame fans, Lakers fans, Tom Cruise fans, James Bond fans, Dead Heads, heavy metal fans, Beatles fans, fans of reggae, blues, folk music, and more.

  • There are collectors of almost everything you can imagine: wooden dolls, Superman memorabilia, Coca-Cola signs, toy soldiers, marionettes, frog figurines, ivory carvings, books, watches, and…need I go on?

  • Geographic markets: New Yorkers, Chicagoans, people from the South, Californians, Central Americans, Australians, and Europeans. This is also true of neighborhoods: townies, country folks, people within four miles of your dealerships, or who live in “the Heights” or “the Meadows,” homeowners in an HOA or gated community.

From the inside view (seeing through the buyer’s eyes) there are people who want luxury, economy, quantities, quality, durability, flexibility, and more. If you sell inexpensive watches, you can probably skip the luxury watch collectors as prospects; then again, an interest in watches might lead to some new sales with a creative approach. Look for what the buyers are seeking and group them by their interests and desires. Then find ways to reach out to them.

From your own point of view, you could look at what you are trying to achieve. Are you seeking to sell out of old inventory, build a reputation for a new product, permeate a market and reach all the buyers in one category, generate revenue for a new venture, improve your margins with new sales methods, build your book of clients for the future, or what?

The steps in getting new business involve

  1. Finding a market you want to serve
  2. Surrounding the market with messages from you
  3. Penetrating that market so you get at least one customer within it
  4. Permeating the market with as many sales as you can so you “own” it for the next phase of your marketing

Let’s say you’ve chosen automotive rebuilders and collectors as your market. Those are people who love finding old and rare vehicles, restoring or customizing them, and driving them. They go to car shows and tune into TV and radio shows and channels that cater to car enthusiasts. They go to races, parades, museums, and parts and accessories stores. They attend rallies and join Facebook groups that cater to their craft. To “surround” this market, you would probably do some of the following (note: this applies to other markets as well):

  • Attend their events
  • Exhibit at their expos
  • Advertise in their magazines and podcasts
  • Sponsor people in their field
  • Learn their insider language
  • Show how you are “one of them”
  • Offer them something that relates to their field and leads them back to you
  • Participate in their events (volunteer, host, or serve as the emcee; interview their leaders; appear as a guest on their podcasts; or become one of them in whatever ways make sense)

By doing these things you will surely find your first customers there and will have a foothold in that market. Treat the first customers as honored clients and serve them the best you can. Then get referrals and use them as examples of what you can do for others. Before long you’ll “own” that market due to the large number of customers there and your growing good reputation among them.

Now apply this same thinking to whatever market you have chosen. Happy selling!

Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE, is one of the most award-winning professional speakers in the world and the original author and champion of Relationship Selling™. He helps organizations and individuals find their best customers and grow their business in ways that are a natural fit for their talents and value offers. Contact Jim at info@cathcart.com

About Lisa

Editorial Director at SellingPower.com.
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