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How do you reach your customers in today’s fragmented market?
The marketing world was simple. Buy airtime on the big three networks, place ads in the major magazines and newspapers and consider your job done. OK…it was never that simple, but it was easier. Today’s buyers are overexposed, jaded, and tough to reach.
There are more media options available to consumers and more businesses competing for limited attention spans.
Newspapers preceded Radio; Radio preceded Television; Television preceded the Internet; and that’s only half the story. Each medium tends to explode and fragment as it matures. Newspapers expanded into every major city and eventually went downstream; to include small local and specialized papers. Radio followed suit, as new markets spawned their own stations, which begat more and more stations - and now there’s AM, FM, and even Satellite Radio. And TV, well… three networks became three-plus local stations, which became Cable TV and hundreds of channels, which was joined by Satellite TV. And then came the Internet which swallowed them all.
So how do you reach everyone today?
You don’t. First, it’s virtually impossible to reach everyone without spending millions if not billions across all the aforementioned media. Only the multi-national corporate behemoths attempt it. Small and medium businesses should avoid trying. Marketing dollars are better spent targeting your most profitable mix of prospects and customers while simultaneously courting the interest of influencers in your market.
Focus on your existing customers that buy.
The old rule rings true, 80% of business usually comes from 20% of your customers. So treat these customers well. Make them feel extra special. Casinos have been employing this technique for years. They know the high rollers will spend millions gambling, so they spare no expense to attract these profitable customers. They’ll fly them in on private jets, they’ll comp penthouse suites, they’ll lavish them with gifts. All because they know they’ll recoup their investment and then some.
So offer your customers premium discounts. Create a customer loyalty club, where frequent purchasers enjoy instant or larger discounts. Offer these customers “private preview” sales or exclusive offers - the more you make them feel special, the more they’ll likely buy and the more they’ll talk glowingly about your business. They’ll brag about how well they’re treated and others will want to be treated the same….and so they’ll buy. Of course…be careful not to overindulge - if you put everything on sale all the time…even your regulars will become indoctrinated to waiting for your next big sale offer.
So how do you attract new customers?
First identify and build a composite of your target customer. We covered our process of building a composite customer in Elementary Marketing Tips For Any Business. Essentially, we like to distill down a typical demographic: married, female, age 25 to 45, middle-class, median household income of $60-100K to a representational persona (i.e., Sally, our married mother of two, living in the suburbs, she’s 35, college educated, drops the kids at school & daycare, works, and then shuffles the kids to activities in the evening). Once we have our target customer we then like to find by who and where Sally is influenced.
Influence the influencers
Consumers today are naturally distrustful and dismissive of standard advertising. Word of mouth or neutral sources have increased in importance. It’s why public relations has had a resurgence in consumer marketing as of late. And the nascent marketing disciplines of product placement and buzz marketing have exploded.
Buzz marketing essentially reaches out to influencers within your target audience and delivers free merchandise to them to use, evaluate and share. In turn, they talk-up your product or service and influence others (assuming they like it). The online world has made this approach all the more powerful, since instead of a circle of friends being local, social networks allow these influencers to reach millions virtually worldwide.
So seek out influencers or locations where they congregate and start to share your products or offer your service for free. An example of this, when one of our clients launched a new product, we identified a few discussion forums and bloggers that catered to their audience. We arranged a free product give-away on the forums and sent products and samples to the bloggers. The forums buzzed for weeks with positive reviews and glowing appreciation of the free gifts, and the bloggers reviewed the products favorably and even offered the samples to blog regulars.
This simple influencer outreach helped to propel the new product to a top seller. And as we mentioned, it built a positive brand image in the minds of the recipients. A small investment in time, products, and mailing costs netted favorable buzz and loads of news customers - who we promptly rewarded with additional promotional offers once they bought. Now its up to the client (and us) to keep this going and to keep these new customers happy. But that’s another topic.
May 18, 2009
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