Marketing Reboot for 2014 – Part 3 – Finding Your Customers
By Nial Adams
Finding Your Customers –
If you’ve already read Parts 1 and 2 of this Marketing Reboot-Guide you will have learned about the need to build your marketing on a system, to allow you to track your results. You’ll also have read about why creating a Value Proposition is so important.
In this article, Part 3, I’m going to focus on Finding and Connecting with your Customers and explain why this is so important to your marketing.
You may have heard about the ‘Golden Triangle’ of marketing, which represents the three fundamental elements of an effective marketing strategy, these are:
The Right Message – to the Right Person – at the Right Time
I firmly believe that this concept is absolutely crucial to both understand and follow if you really want to build a solid marketing strategy. Here are a few reasons why;
Getting your message right is a process, an ongoing process of testing and measuring. How you present your offer and proposition is what really engages your audience and so it’s understandable that this is where most people put their time and energy.
Learning to write good marketing copy and knowing how to construct an offer are the basis of good marketing. These skills take time to learn and develop. It’s all about practice and testing. You need to constantly be tweaking your message to see what stimulates the best form of engagement and leads to more sales.
Next you need to understand that there is a fundamental link between your message and the audience you’re marketing to; your would-be customers. Finding the right person can be approached in a number of ways.
It’s fair to say that most people who struggle with marketing will tell you that actually finding the customers (the right audience) is their biggest headache and in this article I’m going to begin to explain how to tackle this.
Last of the golden three is the Right Time; knowing when to put your (right) message in front of your (right) audience. Of the three this is actually the hardest element to control but there are several things you can do to achieve this; I’ll write about this soon.
How to find the right customers –
So, with these points in mind, let’s zoom in and focus on this particular challenge; how do you get your message in front of the right people?
To explain this and give you some ways to achieve it firstly we need to look at how things have changed and how this is going to affect you.
For many decades marketing has been about the transmission of message to a wide audience, with the aim that a percentage of these people will then engage and take the next step, eventually going on to buy from you. In general the bigger the broadcast, the bigger the potential audience and therefor the bigger the possible result.
There is one big problem here though; size and scale cost money and create a huge amount of waste.
Think about it for a moment; press adverting, TV and radio commercials, signage, leaflet drop and direct mail, for the most part these are about broadcast marketing, or as it’s privately known in the industry ‘spray and pray’. You spray your message out there then put your hands together and pray for a result that makes you a profit.
Not very scientific and not exactly an efficient way of spending your marketing budget is it?
Of course, advertising executives may talk about exposure, readership and potential impressions. They may also want to convince you that it’s also about the ‘reader profile’ and how this matches up with your ideal customer. However, in truth, this is very hard to define in these traditional forms of marketing.
Then a few years ago along comes digital marketing and everything changes…
First we saw a mass rise in the use of websites, which for the most part were all about putting marketing material, like sales brochures, online. This made it easy and cost effective to get your products and service out there, as well as having a way of keeping this up to date and fresh.
The problem was, who would visit your website? It could be traffic that came as a result of you promoting your website, perhaps by other forms of marketing, like print advertising. Or it could have come from ‘organic traffic’, people finding your site online when they carried out a search.
The main issue for this was that although there were significant advantages it was still very much a case of ‘spray and pray’. You had no control over who visited your site and the quality of your organic traffic was all down to how well your site worked and that big factor Search Engine Optimisation.
However, today we see a totally different landscape. In fact right now I firmly believe that we’re in the midst of a massive digital revolution, and I’m not the only one to see this and comment on it. Spend some time online listening to the experts out there and they will tell you that digital marketing is undergoing a huge transition. Some are even suggesting the SEO is dead; now the online marketer needs to be focusing on SMO – Social Media Optimisation.
Google’s approach to the way it delivers search results has completely changed since the release of Hummingbird in September 2013. This is the name given to the new algorithmic system that Google now employs to create search results. You can read much more about this all over the web, so for now let me just give you the crucial points and what they mean to you.
Google has moved away from simply matching words in order to create a search result. If you’ve studied the importance of Keywords and phrases you’ll already know about this. Now instead Google employs something called Semantic search, which is where it is able to actually understand, in a far more complex way, what we want when we type in a search query. It is becoming an intelligent system.
Likewise, your website is no longer seen as just a collection of keywords and phrases all in one place, now Google is looking to understand what your site is actually about and how detailed – and therefor potentially useful and valuable – it could be to those searching for similar topics.
Why is this important?
Explaining this is both important and relevant because this change is producing a massive shift in the way digital marketing works. And by default this is also changing the way marketing in general is heading. This is how…
In the past we would take a message and project it upon the potential audience. We would hope (and pray) that some of it would land on the sort of people who might want to become our customers. The rest, the leftovers, were simply wasted. Then it was a case of rinse and repeat and keep doing this until your marketing budget is exhausted.
Whereas today the whole thing is switching polarities. Now it’s very much a case that the (would-be) customer comes to us through our marketing because they find it relevant to them.
Some have described this as a switch from push-marketing to pull-marketing. Instead of pushing our message out there, we are now attracting the right audience to us.
And there is one very simple reason for this, something that has been a fundamental of good marketing and will always be so… customers want useful information!
A foundation principle I learned over fifteen years ago, is that marketing works when you are able to engage your target audience with information that helps them and enables them to solve a problem they already have.
It wasn’t long ago that people would tell me “nobody wants to read all those words, they’re more interested in nice design and stunning images”. Yes, of course good design and graphic content is vital to good marketing but, for now at least, content is king.
I’m taking time to explain this fully because it’s a really important concept for you to understand and adopt. The days of ‘spray and pray’ marketing certainly aren’t dead. There are still plenty of people out there ready to take your money for large broadcast-type marketing, and in some cases this is still very relevant and useful. The real secret to making broadcast marketing work is to integrate it with other elements, like Social Media, the smart advertising people out there know this.
However, times are changing and the tools we now have for marketing are super advanced and very cost-effective to employ. So I want to encourage you, and show you, how you can do this for yourself and your own business.
Where you need to focus –
If you want to find more customers and more of the right customers there are some key things you need to keep in mind and act upon.
Make sure that your marketing messages are clear and consistent. Understand why a Value Proposition is so important and keep testing it – marketing is an ongoing process of test, measure and refine.
Stop and focus on who you actually want as your customers. One major weakness of the spray and pray method of marketing is that it is unselective and if your message is unclear you could end up with (potential) customers who aren’t right for your business at all.
The best way to begin this process is to actually sit down and create some ideal customer profiles. You can do this by looking at your existing business and customers. Or, if you’re a new startup business, design the ideal customer you think you would like to attract.
This is a very simple exercise and something that every business should do from time to time. You may be busy, you may be attracting lots of sales enquiries and winning new customers but are they the right ones?
I’ve often had clients tell me that about 20-30% of their existing customers are not actually the sort of customers that they want or need. They find them challenging to serve properly, or they simply don’t want to do business with them because they aren’t as profitable as they could be.
ACTION TASKS –
1) Gather as much information as possible about your existing customers. Find out who they are, what they want and why they currently buy from you. Or, if you’re a new business startup, run some surveys to find out what potential customers actually want. Then design your business around this.
2) Create some simple Ideal Customer Profiles. Look at your products and services and match these up with the types of people who would find this useful and valuable to them. You may want to create a few of these; you may find that your business serves two, three or more different types of customers and for specific reasons.
3) Look at your current marketing; are you presenting an offer that connects with these profiles? Are you making it easy for new customers to confirm that they’ve come to the right place?
4) Start to edit your marketing messages and test these to see how they perform. Look at where you will find your ideal customer profiles. New ways of marketing, like facebook as one example, is massively powerful for this sort of demographic targeting.
5) Measure the changes you start to create. Are you getting the sort of customers you want? How are they finding you and what are the triggers that make them react – ask them!
Next – In the final part of this Marketing Mini-Guide next week we’ll take a look at some simple ways to get your marketing activity up and running, producing results and working for you.
If you feel energised and motivated to get started and want some help I’m always pleased to offer advice and guidance. And if you really are serious about learning what makes marketing work then hop over to this page –Flying Start Marketing Challenge – and find out how you can get on the programme.
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Get started with marketing – as someone once said “this time next year you’ll be glad you started today!”.
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