Targeting Customer Groups

One of the main lessons Joseph Kajerero, the Cofounder of Sanitation Africa, has drawn from his experience is that your target market is usually more specific than you think. He has started businesses believing he had a large target market only to realize over time that his true target market is more narrow.

But this doesn’t mean his business suffered. He also learned that understanding your more narrow target market brings many advantages. Here’s how Sanitation Africa came to understand this in its attempt to sell better toilets in rural Uganda.

##Look Where the Need is Strongest

“Everybody needs the same toilet, but depending on the reality of the matter, it may be a critical need or not. So I said, ‘look we need to promote a toilet to everybody’ but there are weak spots, areas with corrupted soil, a high water table, where the population is congested. Otherwise, originally we tried to promote the same toilet everywhere.”
-Joseph Kajerero, Cofounder of Sanitation Africa

In other words, while his first plan was to promote his company’s toilets everywhere, Joseph eventually realized that if he focused his efforts on certain areas, he could achieve much greater success with fewer resources. So he initially concentrated on so called “low hanging fruit”, customers who had a much stronger need for such toilets.

Once he successfully sold to this group, understanding those customers made expansion easier. They allowed him to sell more easily and use that experience to learn and improve his business.

##Use That to Find Areas for Expansion

If Joseph had simply marketed his toilets everywhere, even if he had been somewhat successful, expanding would have been difficult. Because if you’re marketing everywhere and looking to everyone as a potential customer, where do you expand?

Instead, Joseph could look at the factors which made his first, small target market successful and then expand to areas which share some of those characteristics. But Joseph also looked to other small target markets for sales opportunities. But how did he find these markets?

##Look to Who Can Afford Your Product

Joseph didn’t only look to those who needed his product the most, he searched for markets with need as well as the ability to afford his toilets. To do this, he looked towards local organizations like churches and schools which had the resources to purchase these toilets, as well as a serious need for them. This was the last critical element of his work finding his target market.

So it began with finding areas that were most in need of his product. Then, he further narrowed his market by looking to organizations which could afford his product in those communities. What he ended up with was an excellent market where he could successfully sell his toilets before taking the lessons he learned and expanding.