Read Part 1 of The B4T Cavas Here

Step 2: Connect to Customers

Now that you have an idea that solves a problem, the next step is to determine how you will connect with your customers. Many companies describe this process by drawing a sales funnel and describing which customers go through what steps to finally end in a sale.

It’s worth noting that gospel-centric businesses also have a funnel. Jesus described it in His day with the parable of the sower. There are many different people who will respond in various ways to the gospel. In the same way, different people will respond differently to your business. You cannot please everyone, and you shouldn’t! The question is: Who are you going to connect with, and how are you going to ensure they keep coming back?

Target Market. Argueably, a B4T has probably already determined its target market before even beginning step 1. You are probably focused on reaching a particular people group already. However, even in a B4T context, it is important to begin with the problem and solution before defining the particulars of our market. If I want to reach Somalis in Kenya, that is certainly a target market, but a storefront, marketing materials, sales techniques, even a website should all be catered to a specific market segment, and that might not be as simple as listing your UPG.

Let’s say you’re building a coffee shop. Before you can even begin determining the roasting profile of coffee beans, you need to determine the demographics you are targeting. If they are older, they will likely prefer dark roast coffee. If you’d like to target younger folks, you will probably need a lighter to medium roast (or several profiles). Is the bulk of your market wealthy or not? Are they male or female? Do they like flowers or not? What kind of music do they like? What subreddits do they read? What color do they wear when its raining in the spring time… Okay, that might be a bit too specific, but pretty much.

When a customer walks into your store, they should get the feeling that this place was built for them. Imagine you walk into a hotel and the architecture is everything you ever dreamed of. The receptionist lets you select the floor and direction of your room and asks you a few questions about your preferences before you head to the adjoining restaurant. When you get to your room, there’s a note on your pillow that it has been selected to fit your liking. Your favorite tea begins brewing automatically by the TV that has your favorite program on, and a newspaper from your hometown is sitting by the sofa in the corner. Imagine further that you notice a wall plug defusing your favorite smell, the toilet paper matched your selection and a special sleep mask was sitting by your bedside because you mentioned to the receptionist that you were going to “turn in quite early.” This is target marketing.

Of course, you don’t want to thin slice your piece of the pie so far that only two people on earth would feel that the hotel was made for them. With this in mind, the hotel designed its lobby to cater to a specific demographic of people. Then it uses data and highly fine-tuned standard operating procedures (SOPs) and customer service to deliver the exact product each customer in their target demographic is looking for.

You might not get that specific, but if you’re opening a coffee shop, you will probably have to chose between modern or industrial, fancy street or back alley, specialty or generic blends, lots of sweeteners or mostly traditional brews. Each decision should intentionally follow your target market statements.

I want to make a final note about UPGs here. You will notice that there is no option to fill in a target market in one area and your UPG in another. This is intentional. If you want to succeed as a B4T, the data shows that your ministry must intentionally flow through your business. This core principle has determined the specific wording of the target market subtitle. If security or financial concerns prevent you from being able to primarily target your UPG with your business, consider a phrasing like “primary target market” and “secondary target market.” Or, in few cases, “target market” and “UPG.”

Sales Channels. Once you have determined the specifics of your target market, the question that follows is, “How will we reach them?”

As described above, whether or not you open on the fancy street or out of a back alley depends entirely on your target market. There is a wonderful tool called the marketing mix (perhaps better known as the four Ps of marketing), and I would encourage you to review the concept and insert your focus here in the sales channels box. Put simply, will you attract your customers with a low price, lots of fancy promotions, the best quality product, or a location (place) so noticeable that no promotion would ever be necessary. Generally speaking, you would not have the best product and the best price unless you relied solely on word of mouth (hint: free) for your promotion. We all know to beware of those expensive ad campaigns that claim to have both.

Once you have determined your positioning in the marketing mix, begin detailing the strategy. If your focus is on price, will everything be the cheapest, or will you rely on a few loss leaders to bring in clientele? If your focus is on promotion, will you be using social media campagins, influencer marketing, Google Ads, flyers, coupons, TV, billboards… the list goes on.

There is a “T” note in here as well, B4Ters. While Google or Facebook ads will certainly not allow you to target a certain people group (I think we can agree on the reasons for that), you can of course develop ads that target interests, age, gender, location, etc. Knowing the characteristics of your target market will save you tons money when it comes to developing marketing strategies. It’s like the difference between casting your net all night to catch nothing or Jesus saying to throw the net right here; right now. Get my meaning?

Read Part 3 of The B4T Canvas Here