Self discoveries of a small business - Who is the target market?
For any new business owner, the key question is 'who is the target customer?' When we first started a children's publishing house for bilingual content in Bangla and English, we thought we knew the answer to that question - Our customers are the Bengali speaking diaspora around the world who have limited resources to teach the language to their children. Therefore, #success would mean to face a huge number of this group, we thought. It turns out that we still had much to learn...
The London Boishakhi mela (Bengali New Year festival) is one of the largest gatherings of Bengali speakers outside of India or Bangladesh. This year’s festival, which attracted a crowd of more than 40,000 people, was a hot hodge podge of crowds, Bangla street food, plastic toys, traditional clothes and gold plated jewelry. And that was only the market side. There was also live music and cultural shows along with carnival style entertainment for the little ones.
Throw in a little bilingual publishing company, and you've got an event that meets all sorts of taste!
There was a diverse range of people who attended. While most were descendants of immigrants from Bangladesh, we also met individuals from other backgrounds - from entrepreneurs, journalists and teachers to enthusiasts of the Bengali language and culture.
From the perspective of a small business, here are five important lessons we learnt: 1. When you are selling a niche product, its very easy to get lost in a large event. Guba tip: Small and focused may be the way to go...
2. Your market is more specific than you think. For example, we found out that not every Bengali diaspora parent is interested to teach their children Bangla, especially if they don't have anyone to speak to. For those who were interested, a common theme was to learn the language in order to communicate with grandparents. Guba tip: Find out more about the people who are already buying your products and define the characteristics and interests they share. 3. Even within a niche, there may be sub-niches! Our books and flashcards are in standard written Bengali, but many members of the Bangladeshi diaspora in London are of Sylheti origin. Sylhet is a city in Bangladesh where they have their own version of spoken and written Bengali. Guba tip: Its necessary and important to know these nuanced distinctions so you can appropriately cater to the needs of the market. 4. Is the buyer and the consumer the same person? For us, the answer is no, and there are some unique challenges we face with regards to this. Sometimes the child will like a certain product (books, flashcards, posters) but the parent does not and vice versa. Guba tip: If the buyer and the recipient is not the same person, then find ways to appeal to both parties. For Guba Publishing, we discovered that parents love the educational element and children love bright and imaginative artwork. 5. How customers perceive price is influenced by the selling environment. At this mela, people expected to have an inexpensive day of free or cheap fun. Many people haggled on the prices, as that was something that was commonplace at other booths. Guba tip: When selling at events, be prepared to be flexible about your messaging and pricing. Ofcourse, that depends on what you want to achieve from attending the event - if you want to increase sales, then adapt your pricing to consumer expectations. Have you started something new and learnt along the way? If so, please do share your own experiences and tips with us in the comments section below.
Inshra & Raya