If you’ve followed this series of blogs and been faithful to the homework, then you have developed your SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), set quantitative and qualitative objectives (e.g. number of units to be sold; improvements to product safety), and are thinking about new target markets. The whole point of this process is to determine scenarios and how we might achieve them and deal with them, operationally as well as in terms of marketing and sales, despite the obstacles we may believe are in our way.
One easy way to identify new target markets is to simply examine the competition’s target market and determine if it is something you could service or sell to. Oftentimes the markets we serve evolved without a plan (i.e. opportunity knocked on our door or we relied on an existing customer base); so we fail to look outside our current marketplace. Our competitors can sometimes be divining rods to new market opportunities… or which markets could be a death trap to our business! There is sometimes a benefit to not being the first to enter a new market. I remember an expression I learned in a college class, “Never be the first to try or the last to lay the old aside.” Then again, sometimes being first can provide the advantage of building brand that has lasting power to create a barrier to entry.
Another way to identify new target markets is to look outside of your current geographic market for territories that have similar characteristics as your own or who have an unmet level of supply or service that you excel at. Also, you may consider an entirely new type of client (e.g. residential customers where you were only serving commercial companies). Of course, cost, staffing, and time considerations have to be weighed, but that comes after we first identify the new target markets. This process is one that is more like brainstorming and we don’t want to edit out any of these at this point. That will come with further analysis of cost, time, staffing, and profit potential.
I’m confident you get the point and can use your own imagination, experience and creativity to fill the rest of the blanks on this topic.
Tune in next week and you’ll hear one more piece to this process – after which we will discuss the dreaded topic of developing a Sales Forecast!
HOMEWORK: If you haven’t finished all the pieces of the plan so far, take the time to do so. You will have a wonderful tool with which to grow your business. If you are just joining us, go back to the previous blogs and begin the process. You have time to catch up! Of course, always feel free to reach out to me. I am here to help you move forward in your process of planning.