Here’s a shocking fact – most small businesses don’t do any marketing!
Hoping for a word-of-mouth referral is not marketing.
Sticking an ad in the classifieds amongst all your competitor’s ads is not marketing.
A sandwich board outside your shop is not marketing.
Marketing is about focusing on what you sell, who you should sell it to, what they like to hear, where they want to hear it from, and how to consistently move them from “interested” to having a “conversation” to being a “buyer”.
Because small businesses who do try to implement some marketing are not focused on this, here’s another shocking fact:
Most are marketing to the wrong customers.
Focused marketing starts with understanding what your product does for your customers:
- What problem does it solve? What needs are met?
- What benefits does it confer on the buyer? How will it make them feel? What’s in it for them?
- How the features and functionality of your product allow it to meet these needs and give them these benefits.
From this, an “ideal” customer emerges.
Referred to as your Target Market, these are the customers who have those problems, like the benefits your product – and your product alone – can give them, and can use the features and functionality to justify their buying decision. These are the low hanging fruit and attracting such a self-qualifying customer will take a lot less effort than attracting someone who has a similar problem and “somewhat” the same needs.
The mistake many small businesses make when they market their products is to assume that everyone will need their product – if not now, then at some time in the future.
For example, businesses that sell power drills think that everyone needs a power drill sooner or later, which they do, so they market their power drill to everyone. Since everyone knows what a power drill does they don’t even talk about what theirs can do for their customers – because everyone knows it makes holes and screws nuts and screws down. So, to differentiate their product they talk about power, they talk about how fast it is, they talk about functionality.
They’re marketing is unfocused because the message is for everyone – and customers will react only when they need it.
This means that every marketing dollar and effort is spread out amongst everyone – who will only become a buyer when they see the need anyway. And when they do, who says they will buy from you instead of all the other hardware stores and power drill suppliers?
However, if you are focused on your Target Market, your message can hone in on them and if your message wakes them up because it says exactly what they are waiting to hear, then your marketing dollar will find a much more effective return on investment.
Let’s take the example of the power drill.
It’s true that everyone will need a drill sometime. When they do, they may buy one – or they may hire somebody who owns one. If they do buy one, they will look for one that meets their needs and satisfies their emotional desires – not necessarily one of yours.
But if we drill down (pardon the pun) into your product what might we find?
Let’s say it is a light-weight comfortable-grip tool designed for light use at home. However, it looks like it was designed for the professional. It has an interchangeable battery for the brand’s other power tools.
Your target market for that particular drill then emerges as:
- A DIY handyman rather than a professional
- Someone who’s proud of their DIY ability and wants to look “the business” when they use the tools
- Someone who uses a drill for light work
- Someone who prioritises comfort rather than raw power
- Someone who may already own, or is thinking of owning other power tools of that brand
If instead of marketing that said:
“Buy our 550W power drill which works at variable RPM with a keyless chuck”
“Our Brand X power drill is perfect for the semi-pro home user who doesn’t want tired hands at the end of the day”
you will suddenly cut through to the attention of the person who is already pre-qualified and ready to buy your product.
If you reached out to a hundred people in the general public in an advertisement in the local newspaper with the first message, of whom 20 fit your target market, you may get 5 sales from it (and the other 15 perhaps remembering your message when they need a drill).
However, if you know your target market and where they looked and advertised in a DIY magazine, and reached a hundred people, a far higher percentage will take action because they are already pre-qualified looking for exactly what you offer in benefits.
So, the lesson is simple.
Do not market to “everyone”; market to your pre-qualified Target Market. It’s the difference between firing a scattergun and hoping to hit a target and firing a well-aimed shot at the target.
To find your Target Market you should first understand your product’s features and benefits and identify what needs your product meet and what benefits it confers on buyers seeking those needs. Then it’s about getting to know who has those needs and who would like those benefits:
- Describe what they are like
- What are some common characteristics like age, address, and so on – that may give you a clue about how to reach out to them
- If necessary, break them up into sub-groups so that you can really hone in – almost to a fictitious individual
Once you know your Target Market you can start to craft messages that will make your product appeal to them.
That’s focused marketing – know your real product, know your real customer, appeal to what they already want.
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