Your business is born from the best intentions, but without proper marketing techniques in place, your momentum can stall when growth matters most. Thinking about 2015 when you’re still gearing up for the 2014 holiday shopping season may seem a bit premature. However, it’s actually the best time to start planning your marketing strategies for next year. Use the relative calm before the Black Friday/Cyber Monday storm to map out the changes you’d like to drive with your current marketing program. This series of questions will help you focus on the areas that could drive the biggest improvements for your return on investment.
Don’t be afraid to revisit or refine your product or service altogether! Answering these marketing questions and you’ll have a framework for your 2015 strategic planning.
Who Are My Target Market…and What Matters Most to Them?
First, you need to understand the characteristics of the people who are most suitable for your product or service. They are typically referred to as your target audience. Knowing who is buying or who would benefit most from using your product or service also helps you decide how and where to promote your business. Define who your target customers are and how they behave. You can include age, gender, social status, education, and attitudes. Consider their lifestyles, activities, values, needs, interests, and opinions. But if you really want to make this work, you have to find out the thoughts that consume their time.
What is the Compelling Need For My Product or Service?
You may discover a big difference between what you sell and what you market. What you sell is all about you; what you market is all about your customers. Talk about benefits, or features that would benefit. As new technologies, trends, and practices emerge, people want to learn about them right away. Keep an eye out for emerging issues in your industry and capitalize on them. Doing so can garner more customers in the near future. It can also establish yourself as an authoritative reference on the subject which may boost how new customers see your business.
Will you reach your target audience at the right time?
Like selling umbrellas when it’s raining, you want to reach your target audience while they are motivated and actively searching. Develop a calendar for what content you’re pushing out, how, and when. It will be a huge help. Also, remember to factor in your frequency. If you disappear off a potential customer’s radar screens for any length of time they will forget about you. So a consistent presence online and off is key to being their choice when they need you. Your online promotion should be the same as your in-store promotion. But so few businesses practice this. Make sure you have a consistent brand voice.
What Part of My Message Can Be Adapted?
The most important part of knowing your target audience is the ability to ‘target’, or customise, your message for your audience. As you develop your marketing strategy, your actual tactics may need to evolve over time. Social media, now a staple, was once new. Now, you have to think about the next steps and how they may or may not benefit your customers.
Using cloud software as an example — if you are speaking to global companies, highlight the ability to collaborate and discuss issues with their team or how the cloud helps solve problems in real time. If you are speaking to Mompreneurs, your message should be about not having to come into an office. If you are speaking to start-ups, it is avoiding having an IT department altogether.
Where Do I Find My Target Audience?
Now that you have a better understanding of your target market, you need to figure out what media they consume the most – for example magazines, television, radio, websites, social media, or blogs.
Focusing a disproportionate amount of time and resources on the wrong channels can lead to decreased return on investment and untapped potential on other networks.
This is where you need to concentrate your marketing efforts. Remember the importance of focusing on the thoughts that consume your target audience. If they are searching for your product or service online or on their mobile device, your marketing efforts should support that. If they are finding you via the television, focus your marketing strategy there.
For example, email lists tend to score low on both lead generation and visibility because they push your message out at a single moment in time to people who may not be interested. Conversely, banner ads on targeted websites provide consistent presence and engage interested prospects who are actively searching for products or services like yours.
How Do I Stack Up Against the Competition?
Comparing your business with your competitor’s business provides you with the insights you need to make meaningful marketing program adjustments. What are our competitors doing right? When things are going well, it’s easy to identify your strengths. When things are going poorly, it can be difficult and even painful to assess your weaknesses, particularly when those weaknesses cause you to fall behind your competitors. However, your competitors can teach you more than you realize. When your numbers are down, check your ego at the door and learn something from those who are objectively performing well.
What Can I Learn From Customers Who Complain?
When any company receives a complaint, it essentially has two choices. One, treat the complaining customer like he’s a pain in the neck. Or two, appreciate each complaining customer and use the complaint as an opportunity to improve. Give positive recognition by saying thank you for reaching out. Always keep in mind that the customer didn’t have to come to you at all. They could have simply taken their business to your competitor. When a customer gives you the opportunity to recover their service, be grateful and explain your desire to improve the situation. Your customers are not your enemy. It’s sometimes hard to remember that when you’re involved in a tense complaint situation. But they’re essential to your business and you really are both on the same side.
How Can I Improve Re-engagement?
Most businesses know that they need to have a win-back program in place; however, too many re-engagement strategies are ineffective. Social media may have been viewed as a luxury item in the past, but now it’s a ‘must’ investment. The key is to know how your customers want to interact and how this tactic executes your marketing strategy. The goal is not to just jump on every form of social media in ready-fire-aim style. At its core, social media is about forming a relationship with the viewer. In this relationship, the business delivers value to the user in the form of information, entertainment, or distraction. The viewer then returns the favor with feedback in the form of traffic, comments, and social activities. Thanks to modern analytics, however, this relationship goes even deeper. Traffic, behavior metrics and demographic information all help to paint a more robust picture of audience preference and interest. By looking at raw data and connecting the dots between statistics and user behavior, it is possible to develop content that earns traffic by anticipating and meeting reader interests.
Your business can’t afford to waste time marketing poorly, so don’t waste looking for answers in the wrong places.When your efforts aren’t yielding the results you need, asking targeted questions that get to the root of your marketing problems can turn things around and improve your long-term prospects. Focus on consistently delivering relevant content in a manner that reaches your audience and don’t be afraid to tap your competitors for some valuable knowledge.