Entrepreneurship has become one of the sexiest paths for millennials and “Gen Zers” to forge as more and more resources become available to us via the internet. The Small Business Administration reported that the number of businesses in the US exceeded 30 million in 2018. (That’s a huge number.) But while the barrier to entry to almost everything has been knocked down, the plight of an entrepreneur has never been tougher due to the massive increase in competition across sectors. With the fail rate of new businesses being around 20% after their first year, it is important to find out what you can do to not only sustain, but also to thrive as a new entrepreneur.
One thing I found many new entrepreneurs missing, including myself, was a clearly defined target audience. By the way, “black women” doesn’t count as a target audience. Choosing something so broad leaves you vulnerable to massive disappointment as you will find that black women aren’t monolithic. When deciding who to target, here are two questions you may want to ask yourself:
What do they look like?
I literally mean down to the type of clothes they wear and the area they live in. It’s important to get as detailed as possible when targeting because the more personal you can get with your marketing, the better chance you have of converting strangers into customers. We live in the age of transparency. People want to build a meaningful connection with your brand before investing their hard-earned dollars into your concept. The only way to cut through all the extra noise consumers are bombarded with on an hourly basis, is to present them with content that speaks to their unique situation.
If your goal is to sell more artisan soda, it would be wise to figure out who these drinkers are, what do they like to do, and where do they hang out. You may find that this process decreases the potential reach of your marketing efforts, but the smaller segment of people you are reaching will actually be quality leads so it works out. Casting a wide net rarely ever plays out well when it comes to marketing your new business.
How can I fit into their lives?
Once you decide what your target consumer looks like, you should figure out what they respond to best. This step has to be done after you clearly define a segment though. 22-year-old senior males that attend a Historically Black College or University may have a different set of values than a 22-year-old Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. These differing conditions have the potential to influence where they go for leisure, the clothes they wear, the food they buy, and even their income level.
By now you’ve probably heard that “Millennials” are killing brick-and-mortar stores, while simultaneously destroying the diamond industry. Moreover, you probably have lumped everyone under 35 into the Millennial category. The reality is that anyone born between 1996 and 2012 is apart of Generation Z — with the oldest being 22 this year. And according to the National Retail Association, 67 percent of Gen Zers make purchases in-store most of the time. This data is important to consider when deciding where and when to market your brand to a specific audience. You also want this integration to be as organic as possible. The more you look like an advertisement, the less likely you will be able to penetrate the guard of the average consumer.
Many new business owners find it difficult to increase their client base and sales because their audience is undefined. This ambiguity leads to marketing efforts that are aimed toward people who don’t find any value in what they’re being sold. As a result, you end up disappointed, confused, and broke. If one thing has always rung true, it is this; “You can’t sell the unsellable.” So stop selling beef to vegans, and start selling it to your local steakhouse.
What small things do you see new entrepreneurs doing that could be hurting their business?
Cameron Caldwell is the Creative Director at Take All Digital