No matter who you are and no matter how successful or affluent you may be, you have power as a consumer. What kind of power? Well, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential a purchase may be, every time you purchase a product or service, you are choosing to support a business by “voting” with your wallet. Of course, some purchases are more consequential than others, but smaller purchases can often have a larger cumulative effect on the bottom line of a business.

Your Customers Play A Large Role In Your Small Business

If a consumer makes a single purchase of an expensive product with a small profit margin, they may be less influential than a consumer who makes regular small purchases of items with a larger margin of profit from the same business. As the owner or manager of a small business, you are likely aware that individual customers play a larger role in the success or failure of your business than they do for a large corporation. Simply put, the success or failure of your small business or organization rests almost entirely on the shoulders of your clients or customers, both existing customers and potential customers. It’s not only vitally important to satisfy your existing customers and clients, helping to ensure they will return to your business or recommend it to others, but you also have to maximize the effectiveness of your advertising and marketing budgets by directly appealing to your target audience.

You Shouldn’t Try To Appeal To Everyone

Many entrepreneurs and small business owners mistakenly believe that everyone and anyone is a potential customer, but trying to market your small business to the widest possible audience isn’t always a good marketing strategy. Large corporations like Walmart and Coca-Cola can afford to market widely and have a very broad customer base, but chances are your marketing and advertising budgets are much smaller and your customer base is much narrower. Yet one thing that both your small business and the Walmarts and Coca-Colas of the world have in common is competition, and businesses both big and small all have to prove the same thing to their target audience: I am better than the competition and you should choose my product or service. The reasons why you are better than your competition that you put forth in your marketing and advertising can largely determine the success or failure of your business.

Identify Your Target Market

You may believe that the first step in this process should be identifying what you do better than your competition, but as with all marketing and branding efforts, properly identifying your target market comes first. Why? Because the strengths you identify and promote in your advertising and marketing need to align with what your target market is seeking in a business. For instance, a customer who is seeking an upscale shopping experience may not appreciate your ability to offer the lowest prices, while another customer who is shopping on a budget may not appreciate the fact that you offer the latest luxury clothing. No matter how strong or refined your perceived strength in the marketplace may be, if it is unattractive to your target audience you may need to change the way you do business or reconsider the products or services you offer.

Research And Identify The Strengths And Weaknesses Of Your Competitors

It is important to remember that your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum – savvy consumers are comparing and contrasting your business with your competitors, and it can prove ineffective to solely focus on your own strengths and weaknesses without studying the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. If you offer extremely low prices, that can be a great advantage in the marketplace if your competitors are pricing their own products or services competitively or aren’t matching your prices, but what if they are? What if they are offering a price guarantee, effectively beating your prices? Suddenly, your perceived advantage in the marketplace has been greatly diminished, and it then becomes necessary to identify another strength that will once again make you the preferred choice, such as a better selection of products or superior customer service.