Sheryl Connelly – The list is endless with marketing information portals and outlets. Radio, Television, Billboards, Email, Text Messaging, You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Websites, Squidoo, and Digg are only those that make “the short list” of venues you can use to attract and/or engage prospects and customers. In our technologically advanced society, the consumer has access to any information they want, whenever they want it.
With so much information at our fingertips, it’s no surprise that business marketing and advertising efforts are suffering. Look at your own email inbox or USPS mailbox and you can see why many of a company’s marketing and advertising messages have been termed as part of the growing “noise”.
How do you get above that “noise” and grow your database? Can you win the “battle of the bulk” so your prospects and suspects pay attention to YOU? What will prevent them from pressing the delete key, trashing that direct mail postcard, or tuning you out? By getting the right message, to the right customer, at the right time.
It sounds overly simplistic, but most businesses continue to employ the “best guess” solution when creating their marketing messages and choosing who they will advertise with. Many come at it strictly from the business-owner/expert view and talk AT a target base of consumers. Most of the ad copy created tells the prospective customer all about the features and benefits of doing business at their place of business. I’m sure you’ve seen the ads with the photo and a bullet point list. The ads read this way because they have been told, “it’s all in the numbers” by the local media sales rep.
Now I’m not saying that features and benefits aren’t important, but what I challenge you to do is look at your business from the other side of the coin. Are you truly going to where your best prospects are or are you leasing marketing breadth in the hopes that a fraction of their publication’s readership meets your ideal customer criteria? What is it that your customer expects, wants, and needs to hear from you?
Let’s start with the first question: How do you know you are targeting the right demographic? Use the old adage of like attracts like. Take a look at your current customer base and see what common traits they have. If you have a local retail storefront or want to garner local area business, some of the questions you may ask are:
- What geographic area (zip code) do most of our customers share?
- What kind of living situation do most of our users have in common? (i.e.-apartment, outgrowing a home, in transition, married, divorced, single, have children, no children, etc.)
- What is our ideal demographic? (women, men, age range, educational level)
- What other products, services, and leisure activities does our ideal client enjoy? (Theatre, sports, concerts, shopping, reading, etc.) In other words, where does our ideal customer “hang out”?
Can’t put your hands on that information? Still don’t know where to find new customers or what your prospects want to hear about from you? Then ASK. That’s right, reach out to your current customers and ask for the information and their opinions. In essence, talk TO them, instead of AT them. That is the Influence of Marketing, my friend. Knowing and giving the end user exactly what they want, when they want it.
Unsure about the best way to gather this information? Have you thought about:
- In-person Focus Groups
- Customer Appreciation Events
- Polls, Survey’s, and/or open ended questions on social media networks
- Using your blog or Twitter feed as an information gathering tool
- Seeded and moderated Voice Of the Customer teleconferences
This leads to my next point: consumer compensation. The price of information has changed. Just giving customers a newsletter in exchange for their insights and email addresses is not sufficient. Whatever you do to gather customer feedback, make it worth their while. Offering a “chance” at $500 for calling an 800 number and pressing buttons for 10 minutes really isn’t the best way to garner honest opinions. Oftentimes, that invitation finds its way into the closest trashcan or stuffed in a pocket until laundry day.
Instead, how about a percentage or dollar amount off their next purchase? A free gift of (logo’d) merchandise? Small denomination gift cards to other local non-competing businesses?
In the long run, identifying where to find your ideal customer and giving them the information they want helps you to get above all that dreaded marketing noise. Taking a few calculated steps toward marketing savvy not only saves you precious advertising dollars, but can lead to satisfied customers, word of mouth referrals, AND great information. For the time and financially conscious business owner, that type of return on their investment is priceless.
Sheryl Connelly is the CEO of Marketing Media Management, a boutique, full service social media marketing company serving the needs of small businesses in a challenging economy. Her experience in social media began in 1997 when social networking wasn’t trendy or cool. For more on the author, logon to the company website: www.managemmm.com, or her LinkedIn profile at, www.linkedin.com/sherylconnellyceo. She provides today’s guest blog post on how to rise above the noise littering your prospective customer’s email box and lead them to your door.