Hit your targets every time

Ready, aim and fire … your best marketing strategies to reach the right customers at the right time and in the right place.         

Sounds simple enough, right? Small business owners intuitively know their customer base. For continued growth, however, it is critical to constantly review the market and identify new prospects.

Step 1: READY
Understanding the Market

 The amount of data available to today’s business owners is amazing. What’s not so exciting is mining this data for relevant information. Those who collect and analyze the data are better able to anticipate trends, downturns, new demands, competitive threats and more.

I have the privilege of working with many large organizations that have access to a plethora of data. The problem is that much of this information exists in silos scattered across the company. For example, IT staff can generate web analytics that the marketing team can use to fine tune or completely overhaul the company website. If no one is visiting a certain section of the site, either improve that area to attract visitors or get rid of it completely.

As you consider targeted marketing, a good place to start is to create a baseline of information through quantitative surveying of the market. This kind of research allows you to hone in on your targets and really understand their preferences and perceptions. The research should be conducted on a regularly basis, but at least annually.

Surveying does come, however, at a higher cost. Online tools such as SurveyMonkey are especially helpful in gaining insights and most are free or low cost.

A less expensive option for small businesses is qualitative data. This most often comes in the form of focus groups. One group won’t give you all the insights you need to make educated decisions. Most effective is several groups made up of current and former customers as well as prospective clients. While more anecdotal in nature, focus groups are valuable in that participants are more conversational and likely to disclose more.

With solid quantitative and qualitative data in hand, a business owner can start developing a marketing plan that identifies target audiences and accompanying demographic information.

Step 2: AIM
Identify Your Targets

 With a clearer understanding of your business’ current and prospective customers, it’s important to clearly define your targets. Commonly referred to as demographics, there is much more to this step than simply identifying gender and age.

Targeting includes details on purchasing habits, existing awareness and preference for competitors’ services, information and referral sources, and other characteristics that will guarantee your messages will be heard and acted upon.

For example, a business that wants to reach a younger demographic will maximize new medians, such as online advertising, social media, popular search engines and mobile advertising. More traditional strategies, like newspapers and television, are effective for targeting older prospects.

Along with identifying the median, key messaging and calls-to-action help put tactics in motion. Messages are most effective when they resonate with the intended target. After all, effective marketing by its very definition compels a person to view your product or service as the only solution to their needs. Successful strategies go one step further by compelling them to action.

STEP 3: FIRE
Hit Your Targets

 Armed with a clear understanding of the market and defined targets, a business is now ready to hit the bull’s eye.

This step calls for a detailed plan that matches targets with messages and calls-to-action. The plan identifies the following:

  • Target
  • Message(s) customized for each target
  • Median(s) to effectively communicate with each target
  • Calls-to-action that compels a person to act
  • Metrics for success

Today’s successful small businesses know their targets and consistently speak to them in the right venues. They are testaments to the power of targeted marketing, demonstrating return on investment and growth.

Get ready to aim and fire. You are sure to hit your mark and grow your business.

Lorri Rishar