Casting Your Nets
If you have been on any social networking site lately, you have probably noticed the ads that perpetually run down the side of your browser. They include everything from shoes to sporting goods to outside dating sites. The idea is, of course, that somehow or another through your search history these companies have come to believe that you will fit into their target market to varying degrees. If you have “liked” the page for the new Sherlock Holmes movie, for example, you might suddenly find ads begging you to try out the latest detective series on the New York Times Best Seller List. It seems like generally good way of identifying who might be interested in a given product. However, we all know that more times than not, those ads have failed to really strike a cord with the right audience. Perhaps offering a free month at a online dating service to a married person is not the most effective means of advertising.
Business development is driven by identifying your target market and, perhaps just as importantly, the subsets within that target market as well. You can start with a vague grouping: if you are selling a kitchen gadget then you are probably interested primarily in people who cook. But realize that successful business development means fine tuning that target market. Who is it that is really going to be interested in this product? Hopefully you can come up with more than one niche group, but you are going to want to look for groups that will respond well to your product without forcing you to make drastic design changes to your product in order to appeal to them. Experts refer to this concept as a target market with “deep pockets.” These different niches may require slightly different advertising campaigns, but the core product should stay the same.
Still, it’s not enough to simply identify what types of people are going to possibly be interested in your product. You will also want to be specific about what problem your product is able to provide the solution for. There has to be a need. This is a very simplistic business concept, but many times it is overlooked by companies who are just starting out. Be intentional about providing for your customers’ needs. If your product does not somehow fill a gap it isn’t going to fair very well in the market place, even if you have established a dozen target markets. It may seem that in our culture today all you need is to use technology somehow and you’ll have a sure fire hit. May I humbly remind you of 8-tracks? Gadgets are not enough to sustain a company. They must be needed as well.
Perhaps it is easiest to say that good business development centers on a lot of self-reflection. Being able to identify who, specifically, will benefit from your product and why they would want to use that product are going to be key as you begin to map out the goals you have for your company. With a little direction, you can be certain that you won’t fall into the social networking pitfall of casting too wide a net for potential customers.