How do I Choose the Right Target Market?

The Right Target Audience

Marketing dog food to a family which doesn’t own dogs would be silly of course. You know your target market is important in creating an effective marketing campaign. When business owners are asked who their audience target is, many businesses may say “everyone” or “anyone interested in our services”. These targets are too general and let’s face it, you won’t be able to please everyone. Targeting a specific audience means you focus your marketing dollars on an audience who is more likely to be your customer. A good starting point is looking at your current customer base and finding similarities, characteristics, and interests between them.

Audience choices are made based on your goal, If you are looking to build brand awareness, a wider audience is best along with a media platform which can reach a wide, yet relevant audience. If the goal is to launch a new product, engaging your current client base is probably your best bet. If the goal is to get new customers to make purchases, it is important to focus on the ideal customer. However, when choosing your target market, keep in mind your audience demographics; age, gender, income, education, marital status etc. Also, consider personality characteristics, including; behavior, lifestyle, values, and attitudes.

For example, a construction company could choose to market to homeowners between the ages of 34 and 54 with incomes of $90,000 – plus in Omaha, Nebraska. To define the market even further, the company could choose to target specifically those interested in kitchen remodeling and bath remodeling, and possibly even those in older homes. This market can be broken down further but, by doing so, the market could become too narrow and exclude potential customers.

 

What is your Goal?

You may be asking yourself, “Where can I find all of this information?”  Try searching online for research others may have done on your target market. Explore magazine articles, blogs or forums. These are all excellent mediums to discover the opinions of your audience. You may even consider looking at your competitors’ target market looks like, maybe based on their marketing creative, to narrow down what you are looking for in your ideal client or how you can differentiate your target market. Not finding the information you are looking for? Conduct your own survey, ask current customers for feedback.

Once you have defined your target audience, it is easier to figure out which media choices (link to Buying Media blog) will fit best to reach your market and how they will remember your brand. Nonetheless, having a defined target market will be a greater investment for your time, energy and money.

Did I Hear Someone Say “SWOT Analysis?”

Analysis

A SWOT analysis is something which has been around a long time and is nothing really new. But what is old is new again as a new generation of leaders comes into leadership. It is a term used to help a company, a specific project, or an individual evaluate in the effort towards improvement. And of course, improvements are key to growth, both personally and professionally, regardless of size.

If you have already done a SWOT analysis sometime in your past or you are doing it on a regular basis, then you already have a pretty good idea of the benefits this may bring. Like any other goal setting, if you don’t do the follow-up, then this would be a waste of time. The benefits of the SWOT analysis are to help in planning your goals for the coming months or year to provide direction on what is most important, allowing you to prioritize what should be done first.

One way to do this with your company would be to have all key members do a SWOT Analysis individually and then bring the group together to get everyone’s input. Once everyone has contributed, then everyone can agree on the priorities and work out a plan going forward. Getting the team involved is a great way to help drive improvements along the way. It is a good idea to define what is being looked for under each topic. Here are a couple definitions which may help for clarification.

SWOT-Louvre-Media

Strengths and Weaknesses are both internal factors, one being positive and one being the opportunities (negatives.) Looking at your strengths will help keep the focus on doing more of what you do well and may define some future actions to keep these strong. Looking at the weaknesses will help define opportunities for improvement and these should be prioritized by what will get the biggest results with the lowest amount of efforts. Getting big wins from doing this out of the gate will create a winning feeling among the team.

Opportunities and Threats are both external factors, one being positive and one being the opportunities (negatives.) In looking at the opportunities, this may be new legislation which affect your business in a positive way. It could even be a product or service you offer which is well needed in the marketplace, but not enough people know about it, or it could be a competitor closing shop. Threats could be things like increased competition, pricing of competitor’s, or things you aren’t doing which your competitors are doing, and could even be something like upcoming road construction, driving the traffic pattern away from your business for a while. Your ability to minimize the threats may be a big factor in your future goals and can be turned into a positive with the right plan of action.

These definitions will help you get on the right track in doing a SWOT analysis and gaining clarity to the process, and as important, the takeaways in doing this. Making it a team process with the key members of the team will create a better environment not only in getting more ideas but in working towards the key goal of making things better for your company.

 

What is a Social Influencer?

Social Influencer

Have you ever thought about reaching out to a local celebrity or well-known figure to market your small business? Radio DJs and local sports legends are popular figures for such advertising and have traditionally been used for radio spots or TV commercials. David Robinson, the former basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs, for example, does TV commercials for several local companies in the San Antonio area these days.

Over the past few years, however, influencers on popular social media platforms have been an important marketing tool to reach young audiences around a huge variety of products and services. Endorsements by celebrities are nothing new, but more recently, sponsorships paid for by advertisers have branched out to include popular Instagram accounts, bloggers, and You-Tube stars. News anchors, local food stars, and retired athletes are some popular sources for local businesses to reach out to for influencer marketing.

 

 

How Can an Influencer Benefit My Small Business?

Depending on your business type, reaching out to a local influencer could be beneficial. For instance, if you sell garden supplies in the greater Portland-metro area, being featured on An Oregon Cottage could be a great way to put your brand in front of your ideal consumer. Your products would be exposed to a relevant customer base, coming from a personality that is a trusted resource in the Oregon gardening community.

What is an Endorsement?

Conversely, influencer endorsements affect a very particular audience and are sometimes seen as more trustworthy in the eyes of their followers. Influencers are a part of a niche community and are looked to often as experts that have open dialogues with their followers. Social influencers are usually approachable (they are generally more responsive to comments and messages than celebrities who are sponsored for a campaign) and are considered more authentic compared to celebrity-driven marketing campaigns. Here’s an example of the top social influencer on Instagram for 2018, so far (according to CBS News): Huda Kattan.

Using social influencers responsibly could be a creative way to reach new customers, both on a national and local scale. What are your thoughts on this new, socially-oriented trend?

Buying Decisions

Running a business comes with lots of buying decisions and even more options.

From office supplies and software packages, to insurance companies, and so much more. Choosing the best option can be exhausting. It’d be easy to say yes to the first sales pitch from the first company you approach, but history has shown us that the best sales pitch isn’t always the best choice. Knowledge is power and having knowledge of the product which is being sold to you gives you power in a sales presentation to ask the right questions, evaluate its value to your company’s specific needs, and make an informed decision. Let’s think about what it takes to become an informed decision maker.

2018-02 Buying Decisions

Where do you seek information on the product you are looking to buy, or the other person is looking to sell to you? Energized, eager salespeople are more than excited to tell you everything you want or need to hear to purchase their product. The goal of the salesperson is to make the sale of the product, not necessarily to ensure that the product fulfills its purpose or provides the most return on investment (ROI) for your business. You need to be able to make an informed decision on whether a product and its price will provide value for your business. Making decisions based on quick statistics or a sales presentation has the potential to be a quick fix, not a sustainable fix, and consequently a waste of your time and/or money.

As a rule of thumb, you should know your specific need before you make a purchase. For example, if you are looking for a new billing software for your accountant, but don’t know exactly which features your accountant uses or needs, how will you pick the right product? You could hear a sales pitch on a very high-end accounting software which provides lots of bells and whistles and sounds great, but its much more complicated and will require training for your accountant to even use it. Or, you could approach multiple companies and find the cheapest software, and it end up being worse quality than what you currently have. In this case, you’ve found the cheapest option, but you’ve wasted money because you still do not have the proper software.

In some scenarios, you’re not even looking for a new product or service, and instead, you are approached by a salesperson via phone or email. Let’s revisit the accounting software example. This time, you already have software, therefore your immediate reaction is to politely decline the phone call almost as soon as you answer. However, what if this software is a much better value or can increase efficiency in your office? Perhaps the product offers features which your current software does not. It might not, but if we are not making informed decisions across the board, we are doing ourselves and our wallets a disservice. The solution to this is to ask questions or even ask for a follow-up meeting in a week. This allows you some time to look into whether or not you need an updated accounting software. If you do, you can research which features this new product would need to offer for it to be better than the software you currently use.

When it comes down to it, knowing is key. Whether you are learning your specific needs before you buy a product or you are taking time to ask questions about a product you’ve been approached with, a little extra legwork and background research will help you see that it’s possible to save money by spending money, and you’ll feel confident in your buying decisions.

When to Rebrand

Feeling Refreshed?

After initially starting a business, the most daunting tasks include creating the logo, slogan, and other branding details. Since your logo is on virtually everything you produce or market, it’s no wonder why business owners will give thousands of dollars to an outside creative agency so they’ll build the perfect logo. As time goes on, even the perfect design and color scheme can become outdated. Whether you are no longer ‘San Diego Blinds’ and now you’re selling to the whole West Coast, or you’re wanting to reinvent yourself in the marketplace to stand out from competitors, updating your logo is oftentimes necessary for your business to continue to grow and stay relevant.

2018-01 When to Rebrand

Change is hard- but it’s good. Consider the merger or acquisition of a new company. It may cost a lot of money, and there’s a lot of paperwork involved and many moving parts. But if you’ve played your cards right, it’s a stepping stone to exponential growth for your business. And speaking of mergers, if you’re merging or acquiring a company, you’ll probably need to update your logo, too. Leo Tolstoy describes change like this: ‘Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.’ While we doubt he was referring to a re-brand, sometimes the marketing strategy we need to implement isn’t about focusing on countering the competitors, but rather it’s an internal change or shift which needs to occur.

Some signs your logo needs an update?

1. You’ve changed your company’s offerings. It no longer makes sense to have a kayak as your logo if you’re now focusing primarily on hunting gear. Right? It may be time for a completely new logo.

2. You’ve merged or acquired a new company. Like we mentioned before if you’re expanding from a local brand to a regional brand, or you now have a much wider range of offerings, keeping the Chicago Skyline in your logo may limit your customers base to only the Chicagoland area. Consider a shift in your logo that does not limit yourself geographically or otherwise.

3. The colors don’t make sense. Trends in colors, styles, and fonts are constantly changing. More importantly than that, colors can help convey the right message. Maybe if you’re ‘All-American Plumbing’ it would make more sense to have a red, white, and blue logo instead of a green and orange one. Do your colors make sense for your brand?

4. You don’t stand out. If you’re using a bland font, your logo looks like every other logo in your line of business, or your logo is too busy/confusing, there’s nothing keeping a customer from going with whichever brand has the lowest prices or is closest to their home. First impressions are important- what is the impression you’re giving?

It’s impossible to control every outside factor which may affect your business. Industry trends, the economy, the weather, and many more factors can change in the blink of an eye. So whether the business is stagnant, declining or slowly growing, consider focusing on improving internal systems and things you can control. Have you thought much about how your logo – the customer’s first impression – could be affecting business?

 

Social Networking

Are You Socially Acceptable?

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube, etc. etc. etc. It seems as if every day there is a new social media platform taking the world by storm. As an advertiser, it can be intimidating to try and stay up to date with how to best reach your target audience on these social networks, since we understand the importance of having a digital presence. But each social network serves a different demographic – which networks are right for your line of business? Let’s compare and contrast a few.

2017-12 Social Networks
Facebook. With over 1 billion daily active users, it seems like a no-brainer you’d want your business to reach even a fraction of these users. However, it’s important to understand who uses Facebook. SproutSocial says 88% of people aged 18-29 are on the social network and they are on for an average of 35 minutes per day. But it’s actually those who are 29+ who provide the most engagement. Also, people are using Facebook more and more to seek food, travel, and entertainment recommendations.
So, which businesses do best on Facebook? Primarily B2C businesses. More specifically, retailers with specific products and sales which can produce measurable ROI. Businesses that are B2B or are service based, such as a plumber or insurance agency may not see the same results as a retail business. However, this is not to say other businesses should not be on Facebook. Having a page which is regularly updated with content builds credibility for your brand and helps stay engaged with the local community (for example, posting events happening around the area). Overall, Facebook’s capability to reach so many qualifies it as a resource worth looking into.

 

Instagram. Another huge social media network, with over 800 million monthly active users, that’s focused on photo and video. But is it worth the time, energy or money to have an account for your brand? It may be.
A staggering 59% of all Instagram users are under the age of 30. This means if your line of business is geared towards anyone over the age of 30, which includes a wide range of fields, Instagram may not be worth spending the time on at this day and age. However, if you are able to create a photo or video campaign that is engaging, Instagram may be a great decision for branding and directional marketing. Additionally, Instagram allows users to click and purchase items in the app, which is beneficial for retail companies who are selling items, rather than services. If you’re a B2C company, Instagram can help too. A design firm could use Instagram as their digital portfolio.

 

LinkedIn. Plain and simple, LinkedIn is for B2B marketers. Whether companies are posting updates about acquisitions, finances, or are hiring, users are active on LinkedIn to make moves professionally, and not to make consumerist decisions. LinkedIn is also used to stay connected to current and previous colleagues, industry resources, and business contacts. About 61% of LinkedIn users are between 30 and 64, and they are established in their careers, are married, homeowners, have college degrees, and have the most amount of buying power. Professional in nature, decision makers are seeking the next best thing – personally and professionally – and are the target demographic for your life insurance policies or litigation services.
Before you make any marketing decisions regarding social media, you want to identify your target market and advertising strategy and consider which social media network most closely aligns with that market. Social media is not the end-all-be-all, but if you don’t utilize it, what else are you doing to be seen by your target market?

The Value of the Customer Experience

How do you ensure your customers are having the most positive customer experience plausible?

Is it possible the value of your marketing and advertising results, or lack thereof, is in direct relationship with how your customers interact with your brand and how your customers are treated once they enter the door?

Imagine you have a great marketing strategy, and customers are coming into your storefront, but the sales numbers are still not hitting your desired mark. What would your next step be? Yes, we could throw some more money into marketing and advertising, and it may increase traffic for a short while. However, 9 times out of 10, when the sales aren’t converting, despite strong marketing efforts, it may be time to look internally at the quality of the customer experience.

Business Colleagues Together Teamwork Working Office

There are dozens of tools on the market nowadays to assess website analytics, listen to incoming calls, and to help identify where a breakdown may be happening. Do you know how your customer service representatives are answering the phone? Is your website getting traffic but you’re still not seeing any online transactions? Lastly, how are you responding to requests for refunds, returns, or exchanges? You may find it valuable to audit your incoming calls and do some coaching with your reps on how to better convert phone calls into sales. There’s also a chance customers don’t understand how to add items to their cart online or can’t find the product they are looking for on your website. Customers should be able to easily get in touch with your business for any issues related to their purchases, or they will be less likely to purchase from you again.

Some other things to consider: are your employees on the sales floor warmly greeting each person who walks in the door and answering their questions? Do you find value in ensuring the store is clean and tidy and easy to navigate? If you have social media, is your business responding to incoming comments, messages, and requests for information?

Additionally, do your customers feel valuable when they make a purchase? You may find value in customer appreciation efforts. A hand-written thank you note for buying a pair of glasses from your eye clinic, or a personal phone call for ordering a customized item online can let customers know their specific transaction was valuable. Even simpler, an automated ‘Thank You’ email after a purchase could do the trick, too.

Issues with revenue may sometimes be attributed to external factors or lack of attention to marketing. However, no amount of money invested in radio, print, and tv ads can convert a poor customer experience into sales for your business.