Distinguish Target Markets and Align Your Follow Through

Developing clarity on your target market can be one of your most valuable business activities. Most small business owners make the mistake of believing everyone is their target market. Then they develop marketing materials that are overly broad. The result is that their materials aren’t effective in attracting the types of clients they really want.

This mistake usually happens because we humans fear that we might “lose business” unless we include everyone. However, with an overly broad target market, you can’t describe in depth the problems, issues, and challenges of a specific segment of the population. You have to keep making everything general. That does not attract your true target market. In fact, it’s unlikely to attract anyone. No one will identify with your description. You need to address the problems and solutions that your market desperately seeks. Here are a few ideas for you use to fine-tune your target market.

1. Position Yourself As An Expert

Focus on those areas where you have deep expertise. Typically, this means you’ve got sufficient experience solving specific problems. You have in-depth understanding of the psychology and issues they struggle with. You are also crystal clear on what it takes to solve their problems. You know what answers they need to know, and how to help them get resolution. You could literally talk for hours about both the problem and the solution.

2. Claim A Unique Niche That Needs Your Expertise.

Be willing to sharply target your market. Give up the belief that everyone living is your market. Become a specialist. Of course, your specialty must be needed by a large enough “pool” of prospects. If your specialty is so esoteric that only one in a million people would ever need it, you will not find it a viable business.

3. Write An In-depth Description Of Your Target Market

Describe your target in depth. Who are they? What do they need? What problems are they looking to solve? What demographics identify them? What psychological characteristics do they commonly share? What social activities do they participate in? How would you recognize them if they were standing in front of you?

4. Target A Market Who Has A Budget And Is Willing To Spend For Services

Don’t forget to include their ability and willingness to pay. Not only must they have the need for your services, they must have a budget for it or the ability to create a budget. One of the biggest mistakes that is so common among business owners is to pursue markets who have neither budget nor willingness to pay.

Have you ever spent a great deal of time and effort pursuing a prospect who turned out to be “penniless”? If so, it’s time to examine your behavior and explore what causes you to make that mistake. Usually, it is some version of “they really need me!” This causes us to blandly throw our resources into a predictably fruitless effort. Become skilled at assessing financial viability up front. This does not mean to be mercenary or cruel. It simply suggests being businesslike. Put your business focus on those who have the means to afford your service. Keep the rest for friends and acquaintances.

5. Determine How You Will Access Your Target Market

Now, with this new clarity, where can you go to access this target market? What clubs, groups, societies, and social settings do they frequent? What are their interests? Who do you know who might introduce you? Often this seems like a difficult or challenging process. What is required though is a deeper examination of your knowledge of this target market. Rather than thinking, “I wish I knew where to meet them”, become willing to “think like them” and to experiment.

6. Put Together A Marketing Plan Where You Can Meet Your Target Market

Make up a list of places to explore where your target market shows up. Some places will be a total bust, and others will be target rich. Don’t get discouraged during your “failed” explorations. Just keep experimenting, inquiring, asking, and observing.

7. Your Objective Is To Identify A Few Places Where You Can Regularly Meet Your Target Market

Ideally, you will find 2-4 environments rich in your target market clients. Commit to showing up there regularly and follow through on that commitment. “Mine” these areas deeply. Develop relationships and be consistent. Over time, you may want to take a leadership role.

Of all your marketing activities, taking time to finely clarify your target market can bring you the richest results. Keeping this in mind and aligning your follow through is a major key to marketing success.

Suzi Elton provides business writing that attracts targeted prospects to your service business and converts them into clients for you. She is a Robert Middleton Certified Action Plan Marketing Coach, as well as a professional writer. Her website offers a free series of 8 assessments you can use to analyze your own site.

McDonald’s Product Managers Have A Breakfast Problem On Their Hands

Let’s face it, McDonald’s won the battle for breakfast a long time ago. For McDonald’s, breakfast is a big part of where they make their money: 25% of their sales come from breakfast. However, what seemed to be a done deal is starting to look anything like that now. Over at Taco Bell, a new breakfast menu featuring a Waffle Taco has been widely covered by the media and is meeting with positive reviews. Clearly this battle is not over. It may be time for the McDonald’s product managers to start to make changes to their breakfast product development definition. The product managers at McDonald’s need to get creative…

What’s Going Wrong At McDonald’s

At this point in time, the McDonald’s product managers are dealing with not one, but three different challenges to their former dominance of the breakfast meal. The first issue that is confronting them is they’ve started to lose relevance among younger consumers. These buyers no longer think “McDonald’s” when they want to buy a breakfast. Next, the time that it takes to get your breakfast at McDonald’s has gone up lately. The workers at McDonald’s are struggling to try to fill orders as the McDonald’s menu has grown increasingly more complicated. Finally, the McDonald’s standard of service has started to slip. Restaurants are not being kept up and restrooms are not clean. These issues need to be solved or it’s going to start to look bad to have McDonald’s on your product manager resume.

Clearly, McDonald’s has a problem on their hands. At the same time that the McDonald’s product managers are dealing with all of these issues, their competition is reentering the breakfast market. Their #1 threat seems to be coming from Taco Bell – they’ve just introduced their Waffle Taco. White Castle has launched a Belgian Waffle sandwich, and Burger King has launched a value menu with items priced at US$1. Meanwhile, don’t forget Starbucks with their La Soulange pastries and Dunkin’ Doughnuts who plan on opening 400 stores outside of their traditional area of operation.

What used to be a market the McDonald’s dominated has once again turned into a battlefield. One of the problems that the McDonald’s product managers are facing is that McDonald’s does not appear to have any new products to offer for breakfast. This means that the product managers are going to be struggling to gain any customer attention for their breakfast offerings.

What McDonald’s Is Trying To Do To Win The Breakfast War

McDonald’s is a big company with deep pockets and experienced product managers. They are not going to take this threat to their breakfast market lying down. They are going to end up having to do multiple things in order to be able to successfully beat back the competition.

The first things that McDonald’s is planning on doing in order to take back breakfast is to start a marketing push. Because they don’t have any new breakfast foods to talk about, instead the marketing push will be based on talking about their fresh cooked breakfast menu. They want to tell people that they cook their breakfasts, unlike some of their competitors.

Next, McDonald’s is also going to do a marketing push in order to promote their lunch menus which include such items as Big Macs and French Fries. The reason for this is because these core products make up 40% of McDonald’s sales.

Finally, in order to solve the restaurant problems that they have been facing, McDonald’s is planning on making two changes. The first is that they are going to do a better job of optimizing their staffing in order to make sure that they have enough people working at the right times. Finally, they are in the process of installing new prep tables that will allow workers to more efficiently add new toppings when customers customize their orders.

What All Of This Means For You

The fast food business is a tough business to be in. McDonald’s has been there for a long time and has done very well. They used to own the breakfast meal though their size and innovation. However, their competitors have started to realize how valuable breakfast can be and are starting to challenge McDonald’s breakfast empire. Looks like it’s time to update the McDonald’s product manager job description.

The McDonald’s product managers are preparing to fight the competition in a variety of ways. Their first effort was to start to offer free coffee with their breakfast meals. However that was not enough. Their next effort was to use marketing to emphasize that their breakfast meals are all freshly cooked. McDonald’s will also be optimizing their staffing and introducing new prep tables to speed the creation of meals.

The most important factor here is that McDonald’s realizes that they have an issue on their hands when it comes to breakfast. The product managers appear to be taking a fairly standard approach to dealing with this new threat. However, there is a possibility that what they really should be doing is becoming more innovative with the types of food that they offer. Only time will tell if the McDonald’s product managers are taking the right approach to dealing with this competitive threat.

IP Address Primer for Business

Early Background
The modern Internet began with the U.S. Department of Defense’s technology research via ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) leading to the development of ARPANET, the first major packet switching network. This network, which transmitted data via regulated size blocks (packets), sent information between connected nodes via the Internet Protocol (IP) system.

When originally designed, this protocol’s architecture allowed for approximately four billion IP addresses – specific numbers that identify users within the network; a virtual address. An IP address is essentially the Internet’s version of a home or business address, necessary for receiving data, like an address is necessary to receive physical mail or packages. These addresses were a byproduct of IPv4, the Internet Protocol’s fourth iteration, derived from 32-bit binary number combinations.

Supply and Demand
Given the vast supply of IPv4 addresses originally available, it was assumed that the supply would not be exhausted by demand. In turn, these addresses became managed by the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), which control IP address allocation across the world. At first, addresses were provided to companies in bulk for a set membership fee.

However, with the Internet’s explosive growth in both users and connected devices, by 2012, nearly all RIRs had exhausted their allotments. With approximately 7 billion people on the planet, and only 4 billion available numbers, the demand led directly to the birth of a new market – IP address leases and transfers.

Birth of a Market
To add additional numbers, the IPv6 protocol was developed in the late 1990s. Using 128 bit, hexadecimal combinations for number creation, IPv6 provides 340 undecillion (3.4 x 1038) new numbers. However, because of beta testing and the sheer volume of devices and software requiring conversion, IPv4 to IPv6 adoption has been slow.

As of 2014, the adoption rate is less than 5% of global users. In the meantime, companies still require IPv4 addresses to connect online to conduct business. Thankfully, an abundance of previously registered addresses remain untapped for a price.

Whether to Buy or Rent IP Addresses
A variety of companies currently hold a limited cache of unused IP addresses, registered when numbers were abundant and free. Servicing this new market, dedicated IP brokers and firms offering IP broker services like Pub Concierge help facilitate transfers, by matching buyers (new companies needing addresses) to sellers, and managing the transfer process in a highly structured and productive capacity. Companies can purchase the right to use an IP address, in which the original registrar informs the associated RIR that it is transferring over its right of usage. Brokers assist by performing administrative duties and aiding negotiations for a set commission.

Additionally, companies interested in, but needing time to adapt to IPv6, can instead rent the right of usage for IPv4 addresses. Companies lease and facilitate the use of distinct IP addresses for a specified period of time. This option provides companies the ability to still grow, without making a long-term commitment to real estate. It is a similar decision to renting vs. buying an office building for the growth of a company or to buy vs. rent a house, personally. The business needs dictate the price, duration, and flexibility of IP address needs and the provider can either service an immediate need or a longer-term solution.

Either way, the IP address digital real estate market has efficient and valuable profit potential for companies utilizing digital real estate resources. Companies who recognize the importance of this adoption gap and how companies must continue conducting business online, while adapting their long-term capabilities to do so, help to facilitate a transparent and highly efficient market.