So, you want to go after a new market?
Perhaps your current market is running dry, you’re finding you have a bad fit with your current clientele, your interests have shifted or you have exciting new offerings that would appeal to a fresh crop of customers.
Sometimes, as business owners, we can become comfortable in a particular market. We know it well, they know us well and we want to continue operating, business as usual.
But when we get a spark of inspiration or nagging feeling that it’s time to go after a new market, what steps can we take to do that? It won’t be easy, but it could be worth it.
Here are 6 tips to help you tap into a new market:
Do your research
Fair warning: This grand idea you have for moving into a new market needs some vetting first. What looks like an excellent opportunity from the outside could drain your time, energy and resources if you are not careful. Before going after a new market, estimate the potential growth opportunity, but also find out what obstacles might be in your path — regulations, competitors, tightly guarded networks, financial constraints or failed past attempts to tap into it by others in your industry.
You might notice a city has very few businesses like yours, so that market is wide open for you. But there may be a reason businesses like yours don’t do well in that city — weather, demographics, culture or code restrictions. You might think lawyers or doctors would be the perfect clients for your services, but there may be aspects of their profession that would make it difficult for you to establish yourself as a go-to service provider — laws, ethical codes or other barriers to entry. You might think a certain market would benefit from what your company sells, but your product or service might be too expensive or too cheap. There are a lot of opportunities for tapping into new markets, but be sure to know what you are getting yourself into before going after what you think you want.
Test the waters
Now that you’ve done your research, dip your toes in the water before diving right in. Avoid diverting your attention from your existing customer base until you know the new market is a good fit for you and your company. Make some sales calls, land a few clients or work on a small scale project first to see if tapping into this new market is worth your while.
You want to be able to iron out the details and work out the kinks before going after the new market full force. If you have promising prospects or if you are able to make some sales early on, that is an indication that the market may be ripe for what you have to offer. If your company performs well and you get results for clients in your new market, you can build off of this experience to lay the groundwork and expand your reach further into the market.
If customers in the new market tend to be a hard sell or more difficult to please than anticipated, maybe the new market isn’t for you. Make some adjustments or move on to the next potential market. If you enjoy working with customers in the new market and the new market seems to be a lucrative opportunity for your business, it’s time to step up your efforts.
Pivot your positioning
Once you have determined that the new market is a potential fit for your business, it’s time to position your branding and messaging to appeal to it. When a prospective customer reads your marketing materials, she should recognize that you work with people like her and that your products and services can meet her needs.
If you want to transition your targeting away from your current customer base to focus on the new market going forward, change your marketing messages to reflect the new market and avoid confusion. If you are simply looking to add new customers to your existing base, shift your messaging to be more inclusive of the new market’s needs and desires without alienating your existing clientele. The key is to make sure you have the right marketing materials and compelling website landing pages to speak directly to what you have to offer the new market.
Reach out to your network
Your existing personal and professional network already knows, likes and trusts you. They know you can deliver on what you offer and they believe in your company. If you have done a good job of marketing up to this point, your network already knows who you work with and who your target market is. Now it’s time to let them know you are expanding your reach.
Ask your existing customers and contacts who they know in this new market. Explain how your services or offerings are a good fit for the new market, let them know what experience you have in serving that market, what results you have been able to achieve for the market or describe specifically how your experience with other markets will transfer seamlessly into the new market. If they already see you as competent at what you do, and you show confidence and enthusiasm, there is a good chance that they will have your back as you set off in a new direction. Even if you think you don’t have any contacts in your new market, it is likely your existing network will include people who can make introductions and referrals for you.
Go where they are
If you are looking to tap into a new market, it is important for you to go where this market already gathers and show up where they are — both online and in person. There are organizations and associations for every trade, profession, area or target market that you want to access. Join the networks, go to the meetings, volunteer, contribute, get in front of the right audiences and become known where you are currently unknown.
Some of the most important legwork you can do in tapping into a new market is determining where your market already gathers. Find the hot events, conventions, conferences and meetings. Be there with bells on and put your best foot forward. Locate spaces online where conversations are happening. Pipe up and contribute your knowledge and expertise. Insert yourself into the conversation as a go-to resource. Before long, you will begin to work your way into the mix.
Give yourself time
Finally, understand that it’s going to take time. There are no shortcuts. Yes, there are pitfalls you can avoid by doing your research and making strategic connections, but tapping into a new market takes work and it is not likely to happen overnight. If you are already successful in your current market, it is because you are already showing up there and you have been for some time. People know who you are and they know you can deliver. You’ve made your presence known and you’ve built your reputation.
The good news is, you can leverage that existing reputation as you tap into the new market; so even if it feels like it, you are not starting from scratch. Use what you’ve learned so far, pivot and expand your reach with confidence. You can do it!
If you need help creating marketing messages and materials that speak to this new market you want to tap into, give us a shout.