I thought I knew what I wanted…
All too often for me, that’s how my story begins.
And this product creation journey is no different.
When I came up with the idea to do an experiment and journal my experience with the ConvertKit Product Creation Masterclass, I thought I had the target market I wanted to pursue all worked out. But I guess not…
Before we go any further, let me define a couple terms so we’re all working on an even playing field and because their definitions are different based on which textbook or website you look at. Here’s what the terms mean to me:
When starting out, you’ll almost always be better off marketing to the smallest niche you can that has a proven desire for your product and an ability to pay for it. Once you figure out how to reach and service that niche successfully, you can expand by either:
Once I choose my target market, I’ll use these same steps to identify a profitable niche. The numbers will just be smaller (and harder to find). The first order of business, though, is choosing my target market.
I use ThriveThemes to run this site and a couple others. I’ve done a fair amount of customization of the sites. I can answer many routine questions people ask without too much struggle or research. So I thought I would develop a business and my first digital product around that niche.
But the, as I was working on other things, I ran across the idea of imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome intrigues me for several reasons.
Then, a third shiny object came into my view.
For several weeks, I’ve been running some experiments using press releases to boost the search engine rankings of local businesses. I am beginning to see some real, trackable results in those efforts and continue to experiment.
I thought maybe I could do a combination of selling a service and teaching others how to do it.
If a businesses owner had more money than time (or interest), they could pay me to do it for them. And if they have more time than money, they could learn how to do it themselves.
What started out as a simple process has now morphed into a decision that needs to be made before the masterclass starts next week.
And a decision I don’t want to mess up. So how do I choose a market for my business?
Well, I’ve learned a couple things from my past experience and online research.
When we were running the numbers for our Zippy Shell business before we invested in the franchise, we did spreadsheet after spreadsheet figuring all different scenarios…none of which were ANYWHERE close to what actually happened.
The problem was we didn’t have any hard and fast numbers to determine growth from, so we estimated everything. Zippy Shell had only been franchising for a couple years when we came on board, so there were only a handful of franchisees that could share their numbers.
None of the franchises were over a year or 18 months old, and none of them were in markets similar to ours, so we estimated.
And those estimates were way off.
So how can I make sure that doesn’t happen again? Great question…but I don’t think there’s a great answer.
But I have to start somewhere,, so I’ll do all the research I can and try to make the numbers as accurate as I can. At the end of the day, though, I’ll still have to make an educated guess…just like with Zippy Shell.
The trick to getting the most accurate and trustworthy information about potential target markets is to go straight to the people in the market. Find where they hang out online and off and go talk to them.
I’ll go into these steps in depth in future posts, but here’s the outline…
I’m going to go to Reddit.com, Quora.com, Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups. I’ll search Amazon book reviews and the comments on popular YouTube videos. The idea is to find out what real people are talking about, complaining about and asking for.
If I can’t find anyone discussing any of these burning pains in relation to ThriveThemes, imposter syndrome or improving search engine rankings for local businesses, I’ll know I need to go back to the drawing board. Based on the preliminary research I’ve done already, though, I’m confident at least one or two of these will be a great target market.
Once I know what’s being talked about online, I’ll start gathering as many market statistics as I can. Items such as number of potential customers, number of competitors and their offerings, and how much does the market spend annually on services I could provide. I’ll also look at competitors to determine common workable revenue models and holes in the market.
Finally, I’ll find a handful of people in the market and talk to them either in person, on the phone or by Skype. My goal will be to get feedback from real people to see what they think about the markets. I hope to get them to identify three things:
Once I’ve got all this information, the actual process of choosing my target market will be a process of mixing the empirical data and the interview data.
Kind of like making a good stew, this is where judgment (and risk) come into the picture.
I will be trying to determine:
This is the first article in what I plan to be a seven part series on choosing a target market for your online business. The rest of the articles in the series are will show up below as they’re written.
If you’re interested in more articles on this from someone else’s perspective, here are a few I’ve found useful: