Fishing for Customers

Fishing for Customers

When little Maria wanted to learn to fish, she asked her father to take her out on the lake to teach her. Her father eagerly agreed, glad to encourage his daughter’s interest in his favorite pastime. They got two rods, a few lures, and a net, then set out around dusk. As soon as the boat left the dock, Maria started preparing to cast her fishing line, but her father told her to wait, so she sat back down. A few minutes later, they had reached the middle of the lake, so she once again got ready to cast out, but again her father told her to wait. Finally, they began to get a little closer to an island about 500 yards from the shoreline. Her father cut the main motor and began to use the paddles to get the boat in a little closer. Once he had found just the right position, he turned to his daughter.

“Maria,” he explained, “this lake is filled with fish. When you first attempted to cast your line, we were going a bit too fast and were heading into deeper water. The second time, we were in the middle of the lake, still going a bit too fast for a good cast. Is it possible that you may have caught a fish there? Yes, but it would have taken much more time and effort than around here. Around this island, the water is still deep, but there are plenty of rocks and shelters for the fish to hide. This makes it a more attractive place for them and a better place for us to catch them.”

As Maria learned that day, sometimes waiting for the right moment and knowing how to find the right spot can make an enormous difference in the amount of effort needed to accomplish a task. This same idea applies to finding customers for your business.

Fishing for customers

Just like the fish Maria and her father sought, the customers you and your business seek are more likely to be found in certain places. It’s certainly possible to run a marketing campaign that consists of broadcasting the company message across a large number of platforms in an effort to reach more people. Undoubtedly, this marketing campaign will snag some ‘fish.’ On the other hand, it’s also guaranteed to require more resources and energy than a more targeted approach.

Figuring out where the customers are

Determining where exactly you can go to find your best customers will allow you to promote your brand and encourage more people to enter the sales cycle with significantly less expense. The most common way to accomplish this is through market research that examines:

  1. Who your most likely customers will be
  2. What matters most to these customers
  3. Where these customers can be found

To determine these answers, start with polls, surveys, and research among your existing customers and your anticipated demographic. Look also at what the rest of your industry has to say. Statistics about the efficacy of different marketing campaigns on different demographic groups will be helpful, too. Combine these sources to create a successful and efficient marketing campaign.

In many ways, marketing is like fishing. As any experienced angler will tell you, you have to learn where the fish are congregated to make the most of your day. The same goes for marketing. Put these lessons to use, and watch your marketing campaigns grow.

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Do You Truly Know Your Target Market?

Do You Truly Know Your Target Market?

Are you preaching to the wrong choir?

While every business owner or marketing department head certainly has heard that basic rule of advertising — know your target audience — when was the last time you stopped to ask, “How well do I REALLY know my target audience?”

Say, for instance, you run a landscaping business. You know your target audience includes homeowners in your town. But if you take it a few steps further, you may just discover that your true target audience includes homeowners between the ages of 45 and 65 who live within a five-mile radius of the center of town and who have an annual income over $55,000. Sounds pretty specific, right?

The old adage “you can’t please all the people all the time” certainly applies to your marketing efforts. Too many businesses try to be all things to all people, focusing on too broad a demographic. Narrowing your focus can result in a more effective use of your marketing dollars.

If you haven’t taken this particular commandment to heart, it’s likely affecting your marketing for the worse. Here’s how to identify your true target audience.

Playing Detective

Get out your deerstalker. It’s time to play Sherlock Holmes. Identifying your target audience involves a bit of research into demographics. Start by compiling a list of customer characteristics, including age, gender, location, income, education, occupation, ethnicity, martial status, and number of children. Now think about the last few purchases you made. How many of these factors influenced that purchase?

Narrow your focus down to the two most significant factors — we’ll call these your core factors — and then choose up to two “secondary factors” to round out your market. You’ll want to focus your research on these core and secondary factors to really get to know your target audience. Find out where they shop, what’s important to them, which businesses they frequent (both online and off), and what problems they experience that your product or service can solve.

With those answers in place, it’s time to delve deep into your audience and compile the data and information that make them tick. Resources for your research may include:

  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook Insights (analytics available if your business page has at least 30 “likes”)
  • Customer review sites (What other businesses are your customers patronizing on Yelp? What appeals to them?)
  • Your competitors’ sites and reviews
  • Surveys or interviews with your current and past customers
  • Hosting small focus groups

Keep in mind that you’re also looking for psychographic information, such as hobbies, interests, lifestyle, attitudes, and beliefs. While demographic information tells you who is most likely to buy your product or service, psychographic data tells you why they’re interested.

When you’re compiling the data, look for common threads that run among your customers. Do they work in similar industries or have similar hobbies? Does your product or service appeal to families with two kids or single professionals? Seeking out similarities makes it easier to target relevant customers.

Develop a Profile

Now that you’ve gathered your research, develop a “typical customer” profile. The goal? To create an in-depth picture of who your customer is. Your profile should contain both demographic information — age, location, marital status, etc. — and psychographic information — values, attitudes, political leanings, hobbies, and the like.

Your profile will help you determine where, exactly, to find your target audience. Do they tend to live in a certain neighborhoods — or certain streets in certain neighborhoods? Do they patronize certain businesses because those places reinforce their values? The better you understand your target customer, the more easily you can tailor your marketing materials to appeal to them.

Remember, your customer profile and your target audience aren’t static. They’ll evolve and change over time, and so should your approach. Determining your target audience isn’t a once-and-done proposition; rather, it’s an ongoing task that grows along with your business.

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