Marketing as Storytelling + Planning: Creating Value

When developing a marketing strategy as a small business owner, you must first determine how to create value for your target market.

Part 1 (Marketing as Storytelling + Planning: Write Your Story) was all about getting really specific. We drilled down on what your current opportunities and limitations are for your business, observing your community to see where you can stand out, and defining your ideal customer. Now we’ll take a big step back before diving in again and really focusing on how to get your story out to more of the right people. And in order to do so, you have to know here your ideal customers are all hanging out.

It’s important to note that you cannot be everything to everyone. And while that can be a hard pill to swallow, it is imperative that you know that there is the perfect target market for you, and you want to focus on finding those people and loving them hard.


So how do you find where all your dream customers are hanging out?

Go back to personas/archetypes that you developed in Part 1. Now zoom out to see where there is some overlap. Maybe the one commonality is that they are all female young professionals. Stop right there. This is an important finding, but you must uncover more differentiating factors. The entire female young professional group is not homogenous. There are so many other factors that present a common thread amongst your personas, so dig a little deeper. This process is called segmenting the market.

Maybe they’re all female young professionals with a considerable amount of discretionary income. Awesome! You’re getting closer. Can you dig even deeper? For example, let’s say that you discover that they are all young professionals with a considerable amount of discretionary income who all value supporting handmade and small businesses. You are definitely getting warmer. Now you have a much better idea of what they VALUE... “supporting handmade and small businesses”.  

Keep drilling down to get even more specific until you get to the place where you truly understand your customer's values.


Once you have accomplished this, you now have your target market. You will specifically want to focus your marketing efforts to this group of people, and we’ll get to how you can do that exactly in Part 3. However, this is an important discovery because if your target market does value supporting other small businesses, then a great opportunity for you could be to collaborate with another small business to create something really spectacular. Or maybe you place a high emphasis on sharing with your target market the other great small businesses that you admire, and that becomes content for your blog and/or social media channels. These are only two examples, but both would accomplish the same goal: Establishing trust amongst your target market by openly sharing information about other makers that you value and think they should know. 

There is still one more step to complete before you even start to consider putting anything out into the world for your newly defined target market. It’s important to stay consistent through every single one of your touch points with your dream customers, so you have to wrap up everything you’ve completed so far in Parts 1 & 2 to help you know how to best position yourself to your dream customers.

  • Company: You know what you want to stand for and your current limitations.
  • Competition: You know who else is out there doing something similar, and you’ve identified some gaps that could lead to your unique offering.
  • Customer: You’ve identified 1-3 ideal customer personas to help you find the commonalities for your target market.
  • Segmenting & Targeting: You broke up the big group of people into smaller segments all the way down to the point of determining what your group values, leading to you identifying your target market.

Once you know all of this, you then will have a much clearer picture of how to position yourself in the saturated market, and how you will stand out to your dream customers. Once you know your target market's values, look back to see how what you are offering aligns with these values. Sometimes you’ve been offering exactly what they value all along, but a slight change of words or approach can make such a huge difference in the result. You may have a fantastic product that isn’t resonating or isn’t selling, and it could have been because you are focusing in the wrong group of people. It’s essential to identify this target market, get to know them, stay close, nurture them, love them, and LISTEN.

This is a great way to utilize social media. Once you’ve identified where your target market is hanging out, whether that be on Instagram or in Facebook groups, see the questions they are asking. What are their pain points, and how can you help? What are they looking for and how can they find you? What do you have that you know they would want as soon as they found out about it? Be observant; stay close; and you’ll be on your way to creating unbelievable value for your people.

Next up in Post 3, we'll discuss how to communicate and deliver that value to your dream customers. 

Let me know what questions you have about any of this. I host Virtual Office Hours every Tuesday 5-6:30pm CST and Wednesday 10-11:30am CST (on Skype chat: @maggie.gentry.miller and on Gchat: hello@maggiegentry.com). If you’re working through some of these exercises and get stuck, let’s chat about it! I would be more than happy to help you out.