You’ve got a winning product, and you’ve done your audience research.
You know, down to the detail, just the type to market to–their interests, what they read, where they hang out, what they’d use the product for.
Or do you?
Getting your target audience right is one of the building blocks of starting a dropshipping business. Your initial research may paint a certain picture, but your ads’ data may end up showing that you weren’t quite on the nose.
And this could be the defining line between failure and success.
While a winning product does get the ball rolling, if you’re not marketing it to the right people, the chances of it taking off are slim.
Teenagers Taylor and Lachlan are walking proof of this. They started their store with a specific audience in mind. But after their data began to show that they were off the mark, they quickly tweaked their ads, which propelled them to $70,000 in sales.
In this article, we’ll talk about how to validate your product-market fit by striking the right balance between following your instincts and listening to your data.
Validate Your Idea
Taylor and Lachlan came up with the idea for their store after the niche their product was in suddenly received considerable attention, and Lachlan saw people in stores buying these products in bulk.
Having already had experience with dropshipping, he knew that the products, which are in the toy and hobbies category, would be easy to source.
Seeing how quickly they flew off the shelves in stores was further validation that they would be popular online, too.
While the duo has an established system for choosing winning products, this store actually went against a lot of their normal processes.
But one thing they did stick to was crafting a clear idea of their target audience. The pair’s guiding principle was that they needed to be able to picture who would buy their product.
“If I don’t know their hobbies, what they like to do on weekends, who their friends are, I won’t be able to run ads to them on Facebook because you need to know those interests.” – Taylor
With a crafted audience in mind, they started working on ads to target the audiences they believed would be their main buyers.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
We all have preconceived judgments that often result in blind spots. As much as we want to trust our instincts about our target audience, there must be room for error.
Start by having an idea of who you think your audience is. But don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Lachlan and Taylor were right in foreseeing demand for the product, an influx of sales after the local news featured it was validation of it.
But as data from those sales poured in, the pair realized that the store’s actual target audience was quite different than what they had imagined.
“Our original thought going into it was that it was parents buying it for their families,” said Taylor.
Rather than sticking to their guns and trying to force their original audience to work, they listened to the data and acted on it.
Cast a Wider Net to Narrow in on the Target
Without ditching their original audience, Lachlan and Taylor redistributed their budget. They allocated a larger amount to the audience the data indicated to be the better choice while continuing to run ad sets for other audiences. Eventually, they were able to narrow their target audience down to a winner.
“It was like grandparents just buying it for themselves because they’re bored,” Taylor concluded.
Such adjustments are common, especially as you’re just starting, and Lachlan and Taylor certainly aren’t the only ones who’ve done so.
Merchant Ahmed Hadi was surprised that his jewelry store’s top-selling product was one that mothers were buying for their daughters.
“I would have thought that the one for wives and fiances would sell best, but no,” Ahmed said.
Keep Emotions at Bay
It’s easy to get caught up trying to force a product on an audience because you don’t want to admit you had it wrong, especially after spending upon hours researching and building your ideal audience.
But when it comes to analyzing ad data, it’s better to adopt a practical approach and keep emotions out of the decision-making process.
Let the numbers dictate your direction and adjust your ads accordingly. Other audiences might be even bigger buyers, and ignoring what the numbers tell you may mean missing out on big and lucrative opportunities.
This might sound obvious, and there’s no denying that the cliché “easier said than done” applies here. But take comfort in knowing that emotional attachments are common.
It’s what successful dropshipper Ryan Carroll says is his biggest dropshipping failure. He’d refused to pull the plug on ads that weren’t converting and hoped that they’d eventually pick up.
They didn’t, and he lost $5k in three months. His takeaway?
“Move on to the next one and stop wasting your money trying to get this thing to work.”
It’s not uncommon to fall into tunnel vision from getting too fixated on a product or letting your judgment cloud who your target audience actually is.
To quote Malcolm Gladwell from his book Talking to Strangers,
“The conviction that we know others better than they know us—and that we may have insights about them they lack (but not vice versa)—leads us to talk when we would do well to listen.”
If you have an instinct that you can’t shake, by all means, test it. But ultimately, you should let data be your guiding angel and learn to let go if need be.
Not only can data save you from lost opportunities, but it also hones your judgment. Ignoring it and pressing on regardless will leave you none the wiser.