Target Your Marketing To Your Customers
Recently, I’ve written several blogs on social media and the value of adding it to your promotional mix. While there’s no doubt that it can assist many in building awareness of their brand, just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s perfect for you. When you’re trading off dollars and resources, you should be careful to not abandon ways that have worked for you in the past.
The digital marketing revolution has certainly changed the marketing landscape, offering greater opportunities to better target potential customers with your messages. It has given birth to some very effective marketing opportunities that never existed before, such as earned media and retargeting.
But if the customers you need to reach currently aren’t big users of social media, investing heavily in this area could do more harm than good. What it really comes down to is making sure you have done the in-depth research required for your marketing plan that gives you the best picture of your target market and customers. Knowing who your customers are and how they receive their information is key to helping you prioritize your marketing efforts.
Does Anyone Use Offline Marketing Anymore?
Traditional marketing methods, such as print advertising, PR, direct marketing, and events are still being used by many companies. As pointed out in a September 2016 Forbes’ article, a lot of ideas from the past still work today. Many offline marketing strategies, such as speaking at events, pitching to local print publications, and using snail mail to deliver newsletters, gift certificates or coupons, are still very effective.
However, adjustments are being made to offline marketing strategies. As companies direct their efforts to more cost-effective, broader reaching online marketing, certain offline tactics are falling by the wayside while others are reaping benefits of bigger budgets. According to a survey by Oracle Marketing Cloud/Econsultancy in 2016, although the respondent’s offline budgets were holding steady, a shift is occurring in the allocation of resources towards live events, telemarketing, and direct mail.
So Many Marketing Options, So Little Time
Having to handle both online and offline strategies, today’s marketers are being asked to cover more promotional channels than ever before. I’ve seen marketing plans that list everything from print advertising and corporate events to monthly podcasts, weekly blogs, and twice-daily tweets. If you have enough resources to do this, more power to you, but it begs the question: How well do you really know your customer? Even customers have limited amounts of time and may not be able to digest all the material you deliver.
Below is an example of a company that didn’t do enough research on its customers up front– they bought into the hype of the newest channel opportunities and placed all their eggs in the wrong basket:
In 2008, a small start-up was acquiring customers through a direct mail campaign, which included a newsletter. The company grew 200% in less than a year. Due to the costs associated with producing the newsletter and resource constraints, they decided to eliminate the newsletter and put their focus instead on developing a website. Sales dropped immediately and they never recovered. Had they understood that most of their customers were over the age of 55 and many didn’t even have access to the internet, they probably would not have abandoned the direct mail strategy.
Now, this is an extreme case. However, if you are in a small or midsize company (SMB), you can probably relate to how important it is to prioritize the use of your resources and make the right choices.
Change Horses in Midstream Without Drowning
My point is not to dissuade you from getting on the social media bandwagon or stop you from moving forward with your plans for online marketing. You need to be there, if not now, at least in the not too distant future. It’s just that I know how hard it can be to try and jump on that bright and shiny new wagon without letting everything else fall by the wayside. So I’d like to give you a few tips:
- Revisit your marketing plan. Make sure you have the research you need to help you understand how your market receives the messages that are being conveyed. For instance, if your customers are in the defense industry, certain limitations are placed upon their ability to participate in social media. If your audience falls into the category where they’re checking their cell phone constantly, consider mobile and social marketing techniques.
- Create profiles of your customers based on as much data as you can obtain, whether it’s from personal experience, transactional data scrutinized through analytics, online or third-party research, etc. Creating a digital persona can really help you to understand customer purchasing behaviors and help you target them better with social media marketing. Don’t limit yourself to your own customers – look at those of your competitors as well. Know what these customers like, where they go, and how they make their decisions.
- Sustain the marketing programs that are currently working for you and then dabble in the new. Allocate a certain amount of time for your new social media campaigns. Be choosy. Target those platforms which are best suited to your audience. For example, if you are involved in complex B-to-B sales, LinkedIn might be a better place for you to spend your time than Instagram. If your audience has specific audio/visual requirements, make sure you post to platforms like Vimeo, Sproutvideo, or YouTube. Depending on the persona, you may even avoid YouTube specifically because of your customer’s distinct requirements.
- Watch your numbers. Keep an eye out on time spent. Look for spikes in reach and sales. There will be a lag between time spent and ROI obtained, so have patience. You will start to see spikes in reach first (things like comments, likes, and re-tweets). Once you start to see the spikes, you’ll have more data to back your need for additional resources in support of the newer programs.
- Ask for help. Doing it all with a small team is hard. Just like one person riding abreast two horses, you may limit your chances of success if you try to do it all yourself. The help may be in the form of another member of the team, or a consultant who is well-versed with the whole marketing mix.
Online marketing certainly has its advantages. Social media is just one piece of online marketing, and its ability to bring you closer to your customers is significantly valuable. Keeping costs down is another reason to turn to online marketing. Broader bandwidth is enabling everything from online events and webinars to sharing product demos and customer testimonials. Targeted online ads bring in more bang for the buck. Doing more online even allows you to take advantage of business analytics that will eventually help you to even better hone your messages and product offerings. Marketing Insider Group wrote a good blog on how such analytics can help you better understand your audience and their needs.
Just don’t spread yourself too thin. Know where to place your efforts. At Porter Consulting, we have a deep understanding of the many ways to reach your customers, both new and traditional. If you’d like to explore different opportunities, we’d love to hear from you. Learn more at http://porterconsulting.net/index.php/marketing-and-branding/