Infographic: Target Practice

SME growth
Mal Pancoast once said “The odds of hitting your target go up dramatically when you aim at them.” If I asked you to describe in one sentence who your target market is, could you do it? If not, are you sure that you know who your target market actually is? Have a look at some common target market mistakes made by SMEs.

Target Practice: What Happens When You Miss Your Target Market

target market

As the name suggests, your target market includes the people that you want to target with your incredible brand, and your on-point marketing. Simply put, these are the guys that you want to be buying your products and services.

But too many people think that their target market is something that’s written into their business plan right at the start-up phase, and not something that they need to think about again. This is where a lot of small businesses fall short. Because your target market can evolve over time.

Let’s say you’re targeting a certain age bracket, income group or geographic location. Over time, the consumers that fall into that bracket change. New consumers enter your target market, while others leave. You may also want to shift your target market. As your business grows and you expand your product range, you may want to target new markets.

Treating your target market as something that’s dynamic, means that you have to be constantly refining your target market. You need to know who your target consumers are, why they should use your products or services and how you should communicate with them.

When it comes to defining our target market, there are two mistakes that are commonly made. As you’ll see, these mistakes are quite intuitive but it can be quite difficult to not fall victim.

Common Mistakes

  1. Trying to be everything to everybody

Seth Godin once said that “The key to failure is trying to please everyone”. And we think he’s got a point. 

[bctt tweet=”The key to failure is trying to please everyone.” via=”no”]

We can’t be everything to all people. You’re more likely to run yourself ragged trying to cater to the needs of everybody, than actually achieve success. Not everybody falls into your target market and that’s ok. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but not everybody wants, or needs, what you have to offer.

What’s important is finding out who is in and who is out. Who are the potential consumers that could become consumers and who are the others that you’re happy to let slide away?

  1. Tunnel vision

On the one hand, we know that there are issues associated with defining your target market too broadly, but on the other hand defining your target market too narrowly can have dire consequences too.

If, by the time you’ve finished refining your target market you’re left with a handful of people that could potentially buy your product – you may have fallen victim to some tunnel vision. The best way to overcome this is to get rid of a couple qualifying features to target a slightly bigger demographic.  

It’s all about finding the perfect balance. You don’t want your target market to be too broad or too narrow. The fine line can be difficult to gauge, but essentially your target market needs to be feasible to target.

Now, feasible means different things to different people. Essentially you should be asking yourself, is it worth your time and effort to target this specific market? If the answer is yes, you’ve got it!

[bctt tweet=”Feasible means different things to different people…” username=””]

Target Market: The How-to Guide

How do you actually go about defining your target market? Well, the process itself is actually quite simple. You use two steps: (1) segmentation and (2) targeting.

These two activities form part of developing a marketing strategy and are the key processes in determining who forms part of your target market. It’s likely that you’re already engaging in some kind of segmentation and targeting activities without even knowing it.

Let’s start with segmentation: So segmentation is the act of taking a whole market and dividing it up based on different characteristics that are important to your business. If you’re establishing a new, luxury product, for example – you may want to segment the market on an income indicator. The reason is simple, your future customers will need to have a certain income to afford your luxury products.

So let’s think of segmentation like cutting a cake into a bunch of slices. Some slices are bigger than others, while others are so small that they aren’t even worth the calories. (Jokes, cake is always worth the calories. But let’s stick with it for the purpose of the example.)

Next we move onto targeting: Now this is where you pick the slice (or slices) of the cake that you want.

This equates to choosing the segments of consumers that you want to target your product towards. The best way to select your consumer segments is to first think about the need that your products or services are trying to satisfy.

If you think about it, every single product or service that we buy caters to a specific need. We buy food to feed our hunger. We buy soap to meet our need for cleanliness, and when we buy a house alarm, we are meeting a need to feel safe and secure in our homes.

Once you’ve determined the specific need that you’re attempting to satisfy, this is where you start thinking about the types of consumer segments that have that need.

Trying to picture your ‘ideal’ customer can also be a great help when trying to define your target population. Where do they live, how old are they, what do they do for a living? Try to get as much detail as possible here, as this helps you to determine where you’re likely to find them and how you can communicate with them.

Over time, as you engage more with your target market, you’ll learn more and you’ll continually refine what you know about them. This ensures that your target market is well-aligned to the product or service that you’re offering.



About the Author: Caitlin Ferriera, Valoro Director and Lead Marketing Consultant

Infographic: Marketing Issues 101

SME growth

Marketing is easy right? You got the Facebook profile, you’ve got some connections on LinkedIn and you wrote a blog once. But now you’re starting to realise that your Marketing budget can’t compete with the big guys and you’re feeling the growing pains of wanting to do so much more. But how? Have a look at some common Marketing growing pains of SMEs and how you can work around them.

Marketing Issues 101: The Marketing Growing Pains of SMEs

SME marketing

You’ve got a great idea and you’ve finally brought it to life. You’ve started your company, you’re making products and you’ve registered a Facebook business account because everybody said that’s what you should do. But now what?

In the wise words of John Paul Dejoria, co-founder of Paul Mitchell and the Patrón Spirits Company:

“You can have the best product in the world, but unless you tell them about it and get them to use it, it’s just going to sit there”.

So you need to tell your potential consumers who you are and what you can offer them. You pinpoint a need and offer your product as a way to satisfy that need. That all sounds pretty easy? Marketing 101 stuff.

But the difficult part is putting your plans into action. You’ll soon realise that you’re faced with a bunch of constraints holding you back from competing against the big guys.

But that’s fine, you think, because you’ve differentiated yourself from the big guys. But how will your potential consumers know that if you don’t tell them? Another conundrum!

There’s no need to worry, learning the marketing ropes can take some time and there are many common issues that SMEs face. Trying to build a name for yourself takes time, effort and some serious planning.

These are 5 of some pretty common marketing issues facing SMEs (and some tips on how to work around them).

  1. A Tight Budget

First up, and possibly the most obvious, is money. SMEs don’t have the marketing budgets that big corporates have, so straight off the bat, don’t compare yourself to them.

Mainstream advertising (referred to as ‘traditional’ advertising, for good reasons) is expensive! Digital platforms provide you with a way to overcome this expense, but it also comes with its own set of faults.

A limited budget means that you need to make informed decisions on how to best spend your hard-earned money. What online channels are your potential customers using? What content should you be pushing out? And, how can you convert a Facebook “like” to an actual customer?

We ultimately face the question, “How do I measure the success of this?”.

Marketing departments in big corporates often face grillings from senior management asking them to justify their marketing expenditure. This grilling is similar in SMEs except that it’s usually an internal battle of, should we use some pay-per-clicks, or should we rather put that money into new product development?

How do you deal with a limited marketing budget?

The simple answer, you make trade-offs. While we would all like to be the omnipresent brand that’s pushing our products through all possible platforms, that probably won’t happen.

Start by thinking about who your target market is, or at least who you want them to be. Think about where you could find them, what online platforms are they using most and what they’ll get out of using your brand. Once you’re able to answer these questions, you’ll have a much more direct focus of how and where to speak to these consumers.

It’s important that you’re spending your budget on the marketing activities that are likely to generate the greatest return.

  1. Not Having a Strategy

“Oh we’ll just figure it out as we go along.” Sound familiar?

Well then I’m guessing “failing to plan is like planning to fail” sounds pretty familiar too? Not having a strategy, with a well thought through marketing plan, is unfortunately planning to fail.

Without a strategy to guide your actions, your marketing efforts will likely be sporadic, inconsistent and confusing to your potential customers. You need a focused and consistent message, delivered to the right people at the right time.

Don’t think of developing your marketing plan as another box that you have to tick, but rather think of it as time spent investing in yourself and your brand and figuring out why others should too. Your marketing plan should be your plan of attack. You want to be able to tell your potential customers who you are, what you can do for them and, most importantly, why they need you.

Have a look here to see the kind of content that needs to be included in your marketing plan. This plan can change over time as your business feels those growing pains and begins expanding. What is important, is that all members of the team are on board with the strategy.

  1. Finding the Time

Much the same as a limited budget, for SMEs time is limited too. You probably have to-do lists of your to-do lists. You have a small team performing all the daily activities associated with running a business and for a large part of it, you’re learning as you grow.

Trying to pencil in the time to write that blog post or engage with your followers on a social media platform, can sometimes seem impossible. Because, in that moment there’s at least 10 other things that seem more important.

Research shows that small business owners understand the importance of social media marketing and they want to use it to the best of their ability, but they lack the time and the technical skills.

What we often see, particularly when SME’s hit the stride in their growth is that they’re too busy focusing on the everyday activities that they forget about the other ‘stuff.’ Content creation gets pushed aside, you’re maybe publishing a blog once a month, maybe every 2 months. You’re slowing starting to lose the interest of your online following.

Knowing how to prioritise your time is of the utmost importance.

It’s simple logic that if you’re an expert you’ll perform that expert activity better than most other people. Now, if you’re taking on business activities in fields where you’re no better than the Average Joe, it’ll take you longer and to be honest, it won’t be as good as having an expert help you out.

Outsourcing is one tool that you can use to make sure that you’re spending your time on the tasks that you’re good at, while all the rest is done behind the scenes. Don’t have time to write all those blogs? Outsource it. Don’t have time to keep pushing relevant content on your social media platforms? Outsource it.

Outsourcing your content development and management can be a big time saver. Whether you’re outsourcing the actual content development, or just the content strategy development, you’ll be saving yourself heaps of time, while still sticking to your plan of attack.

  1. Knowing Your Positioning

You hear the word positioning and you’re transported right back to that Marketing 101 class. But does it have any relevance beyond that really big textbook you had to read? In short, YES!

To take you back to Marketing 101, the positioning of a brand relates to the distinct position that your brand occupies, relative to other brands, in the mind of your consumer. The positioning looks at what your consumers think of your brand and how they differentiate it from other brands in the market.

To put it simply, if I were to name any brand – the first few things that pop into your head show how that brand is positioned in your mind.

In order to know and understand your positioning, you need to have a good understanding of your competitors and you need to know how you’re planning on differentiating yourself. Are you differentiating yourself on the basis of quality, maybe offering a superior service? Or are your choosing to compete based on price?

Whatever your desired positioning is, you need to ensure that all of your marketing efforts reinforce that positioning. Everything that you do and say needs to be consistent. The last thing we want to do is to confuse our consumers. That’s a big no no!

  1. Thinking That Marketing is Just Advertising

You know what, you can’t really be blamed for thinking that because a lot of the marketing efforts that we see in our daily lives are adverts. Advertising is marketing, but marketing is by no means just advertising. It’s so much more.

[bctt tweet=”“But this misunderstanding often results in an incomplete marketing strategy and significant inefficiencies”” via=”no”]

Jason Hutcheson, Iconic Digital Marketing

The Marketing Mix, or 4 P’s as they’re commonly referred to, combine to produce an overarching marketing strategy. These 4 P’s: product, price, place and promotion, are essentially some of the core functions of marketing. Advertising, is a subset of promotion.

So yes, advertising is an important part of marketing. But so is your pricing strategy, your distribution network and your physical product. Advertising is one way for you to send your message to your customers. But it’s important to remember that it’s just one way.

You’re trying to build a brand, while at the same time sell your products – that’s marketing. You want to develop relationships with your consumers – that’s marketing. You want to engage with your consumers and get feedback from them – that’s marketing too!  

You’re probably asking yourself, well where to from here? Well, if some of these points have resonated with you, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. These are just some of the growing pains of building a successful business. Understanding these five points, and knowing how to address them is the first step.

Working under budget and time constraints can be tricky, but learning how to optimise bang for your buck and outsourcing small tasks will help you operate within the confines.

Planning your marketing strategy and aligning this strategy with your desired positioning is key to pushing a consistent message to your potential consumers.

Then finally, understanding that marketing is advertising, but it’s also a whole lot more. In order to have a full marketing plan, you’ll need to think about the different ways in which you’re creating value for your consumers.
If you have any questions, we’d love to chat. Feel free to leave us a comment below.



About the Author: Caitlin Ferriera, Valoro Director and Lead Marketing Consultant

From Small to Medium to… Medium: Why Most SME’s Never Make It Past Puberty

SME growth

Remember that awkward age when you started to look like a woman, but still felt like a girl? When your pants still fitted your waist, but you could feel the cold wind sneak in around your ankles? Or when your voice began to sound deep and serious, like a real grownup man – except when it didn’t?

Well, the growth of a business is not far different. There’s a good reason why the world is not filled with one large posse of monstrous corporates. And it’s a simple one.

Growth is hard. Growth is damn hard. And guess what? It gets exponentially harder as your business increases in size.

Because more customers just means more mouths. More mouths with more words that’ll slap a stamp on your brand that you may, or may not, have wanted.

[bctt tweet=”Growth is hard. Growth is damn hard. And guess what? It gets exponentially harder as your business increases in size.” via=”no”]

More staff? More staff means more personalities, ambitions, and perceptions that together will shape your workplace as a white collar version of The Hunger Games, or a constructive hub of new ideas and productivity.

Because like stretch marks, or a voice that can’t seem to choose its tone, your business is most vulnerable during periods of high growth. And when these vulnerabilities go unknown, or ignored, they become the cracks that become the Grand Canyon that’ll stop your business from moving past medium.

And ain’t no bridge going to be built quickly enough, or strong enough, to fix your problems. Driving straight over the cliff ahead will always be easier than reversing back up the cliff behind you.

In the wise words of the great Leo Tolstoy, in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you!

And because we don’t want to see you held back from success, we’d like to help you look around your own business for these five common growth pains.

Four Vulnerabilities That Stunt SME Growth

1- Lack of Awareness

Celebrate while the going is good, right? Not right.

Businesses are but a collection of human intellect, habits and ego’s. Yes, ego’s – we all have them. And the thing about egos is that they let us down.

They convince us to celebrate our strengths, our wins, our achievements. But when we spend too much time picking out party hats and giving ourselves a good old pat on the back, we lose awareness of our imperfections.

We forget that our strengths are only as strong as our weakest link. That we have faults, and room for improvement. And that we’ll develop new faults, and room for improvements, every time we grow.

[bctt tweet=”We forget that our strengths are only as strong as our weakest link.” via=”no”]

Being blindly unaware of weak points like poor processes, duplication of responsibilities, talent gaps, innovation droughts, ineffective marketing strategies and many others is one of the biggest hindrances to SME growth.

2- Ruthless Experimentation

Sure, we get it. As a startup your most effective strategy – was not to have a strategy.

Every new idea sounded like it was worth a try. And so you gave them all a try. Some worked out amazingly. Others were duds that you let fall by the wayside.

Ultimately you are where you are today because you were willing to experiment so much you made Einstein look boring.

But, Nelly Furtado had a point. You see, all good things actually do come to an end. As your business grows, experimentation can start to show its uglier side if it’s not controlled or channeled within a longer term plan.

Because ruthless experimentation will see your resources disappear like water on a hot brick. And every time your team invests sweat and energy into a poorly thought out project that’s “scrapped again” they’ll lose just a little more faith in your leadership.

And then of course there’s your customers. Ruthless experimentation gets them questioning whether you even know what you’re all about. And when that happens, they’re also starting to check out the competition as a more focused and specialised solution to their problems.

Look, we’re not saying that you should never experiment with new ideas. Of course you should if you’re growing your business.

But unless you start to prioritise and strategize which ideas you experiment with, and effectively control the bruising that failed experimentation has on your people and your resources, you too will stare with hungry eyes as the competition eats your prey.

3- Empty Promises

Yes, you’re excited.

Your business is thriving, you’ve achieved things you never thought you could, and now you feel like your business is about as invincible as Superman on steroids.

So, when a customer asks for something, anything, you say “YES! We’ll make it happen”.

When interviewing new recruits you promise them the world, because you believe so completely in your business’ growth. You say, “Stick with us, and you’ll have so much career growth your head will spin. And your salary? Well sure it’s modest to begin with, but take my word we’ll be slapping zeros on that in no time. This business is going places!”

Now while passion and confidence in your business is a fantastic leadership quality, empty promises are not. And here’s why.

Let’s say I promise you the most delicious pizza this world has ever seen. You’re starving for it, your mouth is watering, and you can even start to taste the best Italian pepperoni and mozzarella cheese you’ve ever had on your tongue. And then, instead, I bring you a doughy pizza base. That’s it.

You think it’s a joke and ask me to “cut it out already”. But it’s not. And while I genuinely tried to get the complete, cheese-dripping pizza I promised, that doughy pizza base is actually all I have to offer.

The disappointment is something severe. We used to be friends. But now you’re more frustrated and angry with me than if I hadn’t even offered you a pizza in the first place. And if I had offered you a bland pizza base, you would have politely declined my offer and we’d still be buddies.

So be wary of letting your excitement and passion for lead you to promises you aren’t 100% sure you can keep. Relationships are one of the golden assets for business growth, and disappointment and distrust are no way to maintain them.

4- Unchanneled Chaos

When you first started out, ‘marketing’ was a Facebook invite asking your friends to like your new business page. And ‘operations’ was you and your faithful business partner pulling all-nighters to do, well, whatever needed to be done.

But now your business has grown. And you plan to grow more. And as your team expands, you’ve got more and more people needing to ‘get stuff done’. The problem is that some people are doing the same thing, and none of the other thing.

One or two informal processes and systems seem to have emerged over the past two years, but you’re not entirely sure that everyone knows what they are, or understands them.

You’ve invested in a few paid marketing manoeuvres, and you’re releasing social media content whenever you get the time to write a blog. But you don’t really know which ones are bringing in the new business.

The problem with living for the here and now, as most SME’s do, is that you’re working with unchanneled chaos. And this means that you can have all the talent, all the passion and all the hard work in the world, and still make zero progress.

Because if your people aren’t working toward the same goals, then they’re working toward different goals. And if they’re not spending at least 90% of their time doing the things they’re best at, then you are not getting the maximum benefit of their talent.

Stop living for today. And instead, build a strong strategic vision and supporting business processes that will direct team efforts toward a common goal. So what’s your vision?

Breaking the Boundaries of Business Puberty

If you’ve read these four points and feel like your business is already on track to settling into its grown up self, then great! You’ve broken through the discomfort of business puberty.

But if not. If you feel that you could work on one or more of these vulnerabilities so that you can continue to see your business grow, then we’d love to chat to you about how we can help.

At the very least, we hope that this article has made you think. If you have any thoughts to share with your fellow SME owners, go ahead and leave us a comment.  



About the Author: Chelsey Pienaar, Valoro Director and Lead Change Consultant

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