If you’ve got a pile of ice skates lying around, you might decide to start renting them out. A logical thing to do might be to take your blades on over to a frozen pond, set up a shack, and try to convince passers-by to strap ’em on for a glide on the ice. Your customers would be walkers in good health who probably live in your neck of the woods. They are outdoorsy, own cold weather clothes, and have leisure time during the day. They have some cash in their pockets and most likely are with another person or a group (I mean, who really goes walking in the forest in winter by themselves?).
Knowing who your customers are can help you find them. Seeing how they make other decisions about their lives can help you structure your own business. Gaining insight about what your customers are like can help you attract them.
In order to entice skate renters, you’ll want to use your knowledge. Your sign might say “Change up your routine. Ice skating is a great workout.” if your target market is woods-walkers who do it for exercise. If your pond is in an obscure location (and therefore doesn’t get many passers-by), you might decide to advertise near a local puffy jacket shop–that way, you can reach people who you already know like being outdoors in the cold. To connect with vacationers in your area who are free to skate during the daytime, you might advertise at a local hotel for your noon beginner group skating lessons.
Defining a target market for your business can also help you focus. No business can be everything to everybody. The goal is to have enough VERY happy customers who are enthusiastic about what you’re offering. Specializing might make you less attractive to some people but it will make you more appealing to others. Growing businesses need a solid base of loyal customers who LOVE them rather than a bunch of people who feel mediocre about their products and services.
Amateur ice skaters are more likely to rent your skates if you emphasize your “perfect-fit sizing process” and your free skating lessons for beginners. You won’t attract any Olympic hopefuls with these tactics but you don’t need all the skaters in the world–you just need enough to meet your goals. Advertising your last minute specials will eliminate Type-A-plan-aheaders but you’ll be really appealing to people looking for an adventure right now. (R.W. Elephant, by the way, is great software to help you book reservations for those Type-A-plan-aheaders. With R.W., you can create rental orders in advance and be sure you won’t double book your skates.)
When you market to a specific group rather than a generic customer, you’ll attract people who identify themselves as your target market. Instead of a lot of people thinking you’re not-so-special, you’ll find a select group who really want what you’re offering.
As you define the market you plan to target, you might find these resources helpful:
- Inc.’s Guide to How to Define Your Target Market
- See what David Baker has to say about positioning (defining your target market) as the first essential ingredient of successful marketing
- Market research for the wedding and lifestyle industries at Splendid Insights