My Marketing Guy’s guest Blogger this month is Frances Norris. Frances founded CE Policy & Communication, a digital communication consultancy in 2012. Frances gives us her thoughts about identifying and targeting your customer.
Identifying marketing strategies for your niche business – the marketing mantra “know your customer” has never been more important.
For highly specialised businesses the basic strategies of marketing apply:
– Find out who you want to target
– Find out where they are
– Find out exactly what they want
Today we’ll focus on the first two making a couple of assumptions (which of course you should never do when marketing!): firstly that you’ve identified a demand for your niche product or service and secondly that you didn’t go into the business blind so you have some contacts you can capitalise on.
With a limited pool of customers you need to be smart about finding them. There are 2 main options: networking and advertising.
The power of face to face networking and marketing should never be underestimated, particularly in small industries. Trade fairs, awards and launches are all events which will bring you into contact with your targets.
Tap into social media networks by adding your existing industry contacts on Twitter or LinkedIn, and then look to see who their connections are. LinkedIn is a good way to get a quick overview but Twitter is probably more effective at making contacts as it allows you to see which conversations your contact participates in, which will then lead you to the people they’re talking with. Rather than just blindly adding someone who might be a potential customer try to join in a conversation and cultivate a relationship based on respect. If you’re marketing a service show them that you understand their field and their concerns – specialists are more likely to use your services if they feel you have a handle on their needs. If you’re marketing a product you have to show you’re on top of all the technical aspects and understand how it fits in with their requirements.. Once you’ve established a mutually beneficial relationship on twitter, and ideally met them in person, capitalise on that by adding them on a professional network, such as LinkedIn. Taking a scattergun approach and interacting with anyone and everyone, whilst gaining you followers, isn’t an effective strategy for finding the specific people you want.
At this point it’s worth noting that the right mix of networking, promotion and unrelated material is a delicate balancing act. Twitter accounts for very niche businesses which are used exclusively for marketing purposes get very boring, very quickly. The best Twitter accounts are sensitive to the fact that Twitter is a conversation with real people who have interests outside work. As well as engaging with target businesses follow a few accounts you find interesting or tweets jokes and news stories.
Moving from social media to traditional media, leaflets and flyers are unlikely to generate many leads but don’t discount trade publications. Even niche businesses have a relevant trade publication and it’s worth approaching them either for paid marketing opportunities or to write a specialist article on an area about which you are particularly knowledgeable. If you’re a service provider looking to target a particular market (I, for example, work mostly with childcare and education businesses) identifying their trade publications and making contacts there will both boost your target market’s awareness of you and lend a certain ethos to your pitch.
Paid advertising might sound like a scary prospect but if you aren’t prepared to pay out for something which might have a limited ROI (return on investment) Google Ad-Words has a number of clever ways to reduce cost. For one you can narrow it down to your local area if your business is geographically limited. That isn’t in itself anything new. Where Ad-Words gets clever is that it rates the competition for your keywords and the more popular they are, expensive they are. They also have great analytical tools. Chances are if you’re niche then the words you’re relying on are cheap and the advantage is the people you want to find are looking for you.
Finally, for professional help trust small specialists in your industry. They might be more expensive but they know what will work for you.
CE Policy & Communication, a digital communication consultancy in 2012 specialise in the childcare and education sector. Frances enjoys reading, writing and knitting in her rare free moments, reading and writing.