The key to good marketing is not to get as many eyeballs as possible on your offerings. Instead, it’s to get as many of the right eyeballs as possible.
In practical terms, that means getting your products or services in front of as many prospective customers as possible: people who have a need that you can meet, and who can also afford your offerings.
Developing a marketing plan
Every business needs a marketing plan. A good marketing plan is both specific and actionable. As a result, a good marketing plan is straightforward to carry out.
A marketing plan fails to be actionable if it consists of impractical steps. Impracticality can freeze your business since you won’t be able to perform the actions. For example, your target audience might be avid Forbes readers, but it may be impossible or impractically tricky for your business to get on the cover of that magazine. Impractical steps can eat up a lot of time or paralyze your business’ marketing efforts because you’ll be working towards a goal that isn’t achievable.
On the other hand, if your plan isn’t specific, you’ll find that you’re not getting outstanding returns. Not knowing exactly what you ought to be doing can lead to wasted time and money, and poor marketing returns. Many businesses fail in their marketing campaigns because their plans aren’t specific enough. The more specific your marketing plan is, the generally better your results will be. And, a specific marketing plan begins with a well-defined target market.
What is your target market?
At first glance, a small target market may seem counter-intuitive. After all, why would a business want to market its services to fewer prospective clients?
To understand this riddle, we have to dive into how marketing fundamentally works. To sell a product or service, you have to convince a prospective customer that yours is the right solution for the problem at hand and that it’s worth their money to make a purchase.
The problem is that different people will arrive at that conclusion in different ways.
Some will be attracted to your low prices or your quality of service or the fact that employing you saves them time. Others will want particular guarantees about your product that they can’t get from competitors, or are attracted by a feature that isn’t the biggest seller for most other potential customers.
Marketing is a fundamentally broad-spectrum activity. That means you can’t customize the message to each prospect through marketing, but what you can do is group those prospects into small categories based on their attributes.
The best way to create these smaller groups is to create an ideal client profile. Think about your best clients and the attributes they share. It could be age, interests, income, hobbies, activities, job type, gender, and more. And, the more specific, the better.
While you are shrinking the size of the group that you’re trying to market to, you’re able to better refine your marketing message and create a value proposition that’s more likely to convert. You also gain insights into what marketing platforms you should pursue.
Different kinds of people use different social media platforms, congregate in different places in real life, read different blogs, and news sources.
Trying to appeal to everyone through a broad service like Google Ads or Facebook Ads will lead to higher conversion costs, and perhaps the total failure of your marketing campaign.
Research has consistently shown that by narrowing your audience and customizing your message to that audience, you achieve better conversion rates, but also substantially lower your costs per action. That’s a win-win for your business and will help you get closer to the ideal three to five times return on investment that you should be working towards. Plus, it leads to more relevant ads for your customers, which is an improved outcome for them and you.
Creating a Target Audience
Now that we’ve talked about how getting in front of the right prospective customers can benefit your business let’s take a look at that process in action.
Imagine that you’re a new mortgage originator. You have to get out there and drum up business, which can be a challenge. Of course, you form your strategic alliances with realtors, but that pipeline isn’t always as fruitful as you’d like. It would be better if you could get people coming to you on their own.
There’s one type of prospective client that needs mortgages far more often than your average person, and with whom you could build a strong direct relationship. House flippers often make use of financing to keep their costs low, and the better they are and get, the more houses they’ll flip and the more loans they’ll need. That makes them an ideal target audience.
We’re done, right? We have a target audience: house flippers.
Not so fast! While the average business owner would stop here, the problem is that the audience is still too broad. We know it’s too broad because while the sales message has become a bit clearer, we don’t yet have clear routes for getting in front of house flippers.
So, let’s keep refining.
People who have been flipping houses for a while probably already have strong relationships with a lender, so those people are going to be harder to convert.
So, you want to go after people who are new to house flipping. A common knee-jerk reaction when forming a target audience is to think that “new” and “young” necessarily mean the same thing. That’s not always going to be the case.
The only real constraint on house flipping is money. That means the average age of a house flipper could skew older.
It’s a little bit of a catch-22. How do you defeat it?
The key is to not worry about age in this instance. Instead, figure out where new house flippers are and go to them. You know where you can find a ton of house-flippers?
If you live in a decent-sized metro area, there are probably a few house-flipping classes run by different businesses and organizations each month. Every person who attends those classes is a potential customer for you. Meeting these people early in their journey may not pay immediate dividends, but if you did this consistently, you’re likely to build up a substantial client base over time. Plus, these kinds of people are going to come back to you over and over. Some will use your services a few times a year if they become successful.
So, get your foot in the door. Offer to pay for some snacks and drinks in exchange for a chance to talk.
However, some else special has happened. Now that you know you’re going to be talking to brand-new house flippers at what could be their first class on the subject, you now have a lot of information about how you should refine your sales message. You need to tell them how you can offer better deals than the bank they’re currently with. Maybe you’re faster, and hopefully, you’re cheaper, too, but you can increase the value proposition in other ways.
Maybe you get with local contractors and see if you can work out a deal that can get them to the job site faster since they know the money’s good when clients are working with you. Or, maybe you work to get a real estate agent to cut them a deal that saves home-flippers money on real estate fees.
Suddenly, you’re not just the loan person. Your prospective customers will be coming to you to get help with every part of the process, and that’s something they’re going to tell their friends about.
Working on your ideal prospective customer profile may seem like a waste of time, until you realize that you can become the “go-to” person for your niche in your area, or if you can do your business online, for the entire world.
How does customer service fit in?
One thing that we have to point out that maybe seems redundant, but still causes problems, is that lousy customer service kills your marketing efforts. To use a baseball metaphor, you can get more at-bats, but if you’re only hitting one ball in ten, you’re not going to be a great player.
Consequently, it’s a great idea to consider the customer environment you’re creating. If it rocks, people will keep coming back. If it’s not-so-great, you’re going to convert fewer clients, and get fewer return visitors. A problem many business owners have is that they see a low conversion rate and immediately consider it a marketing problem.
The truth is, it may not be.
If you’re not sure if you’re providing an excellent customer environment, ask your friends. Put up a contact form on your website and ask for feedback. Or ask your clients about problems in your industry in general. They’ll be more willing to spill the beans about the industry than your company specifically. Conversations like those with your clients may show you what you need to fix or give you insights into what they’re looking for in your services, which can give you a competitive edge.
Use that information to fix your customer service so that you can make the most of what your marketing is bringing you.
While you won’t be able to convert every prospective customer, getting more of them is always a good thing for your business. One of the best ways to increase your customer count is to refine your target market so that you get the right message in front of the right people.
What do you think of our advice? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments what you think!