Business Basics: What is a Market?

3 min read

“This product will fit our market. We have to test the market reaction. How does our market act?” 

In business, we talk about the market ALL THE TIME. But for those of you just getting your feet wet, it’s important to dig in and truly understand all the nuanced meanings of the term. 

Breaking It Down

A market isn’t tangible, of course. But people have a tendency to latch onto things they can touch and see, so many businesses regard their product or service as the market, meaning they’re building their messaging around their product/service and not around the customer.

So, what’s wrong with that?

By focusing more inward than outward, features, attributes, and characteristics of the product/service become the focus rather than the benefits it brings to customers. As a result the messaging, stories, customer personas, etc. don’t elicit the type of response businesses should truly be after - an emotional connection. 

Of course people think about the features of a product/service when they buy, but think about why they’re truly purchasing something. 

Take a look around you and ask yourself why you bought something you like. It definitely had features you appreciate, but why did you want that particular feature? For example, when someone buys a drill, they don’t really want a drill but rather a hole in their wall. As you peel back the layers, you’ll find the underlying benefit and corresponding emotion that influenced your purchase decision. 

Ok, back to what a market is. The best way to define a market is as a group of consumers that want or need certain benefits and can receive them from a product/service. 

The Benefits of Benefits

Here’s why focusing on benefits when defining your market matters:

  • You will become laser-focused on what customers want and that’s how you truly become a customer-focused business
  • You won’t create products/services or add on features to existing ones that customers don’t want and won’t pay for
  • You won’t be surprised by competitors who sweep in and steal your customers by offering them what they really need. 

This doesn't mean that the attributes of a product/service aren’t important because they are what ultimately delivers benefits. It’s just that focusing on benefits and then what features can deliver them is a better sequence. 

One of the main functions of marketing and, frankly, running a business is finding a fit between the product/service and the market. Instead of starting with your product or service, start with the people who will be purchasing your benefits and solutions, because they are the market!

Need help figuring out your market and how to reach them? ➡️ Intro to Business is the way to go. 

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