“HELP! I Am Spending A Lot On My Marketing and Nothing Is Working!”

I was recently at a meeting where one of the attendees said she was going to a trade show and had no idea on what type of trinket she should hand out. This got me thinking about how many times I have heard someone say, “I am spending a lot on my marketing and nothing is working”. The first thing I ask them is to describe their customer.

Too many small business owners operate by what I call the “Stand and Holler Philosophy” of marketing. They stand in front of their stores and holler their message and hope that what they say will be heard by someone and that they will come in and purchase their product/service. Effective marketing is not done by sharing your message with the masses; it is done by sharing the right message, in the right channel to the right audience.
It doesn’t matter what your budget is, if you do not know who you should be targeting, your efforts will be nonproductive. You”ll have better luck taking your budget and playing the slots at the nearest casino.
If you have not identified who your customer is, you need to. Here are just a few questions to get you started:

What does my customer look like? Are they male or female? What age group do they fall in? What income level? Are they married or single? Do they have kids? Are they stay-at-home moms or do they have jobs outside the home? Do they own their own home or do they rent? Do they live in the city or are they rural (or does it matter)? Are they retired?

How does my customer buy similar products/services? Do they shop online or do they prefer coming into the store/office? Do they want to order online and pick up at the store?

What types of habits does my customer have? Do they shop early in the morning or later in the evening? Are they sports enthusiasts and if so, what sports? Do they have kids that are actively involved in a specific type of activity, like Little League or dance? Are they impulse buyers or do they tend to mull it over for awhile before they purchase? Do they pay more for convenience or are interested in getting the best price? Are they active online with social networking sites like Facebook? Do they have smartphones or do they use a standard cell phone? Do they live here year round or do they spend winters in a warmer environment?

Where do they get their information? Do they read the newspaper or go online to get their news? Do they listen to the radio? If so, what type of stations are they listening to, and what time of day? Do they consult with family and friends before a purchase or go online and read reviews (or a mix of both)?

What motivates them to buy? Are they motivated by wanting to be the first to have the latest and greatest? Are they motivated by need?

By creating a profile of who your customer is, you will make better decisions on which communication channels you should be using, what their needs are, as well as create messaging that resonates with your target audience.

Here is an example of how knowing your customer can make a difference in building a long-term relationship:

Two business owners are at a equine trade show and both are handing out imprinted take home trinkets. Business owner #1 chose to hand out an ink pen. Business owner #2  decided to hand out chapstick and a small waterproof first-aid kit. Both business owners will more than likely have their products retained as statistics show that 81% of recipients kept items that were useful. 
So, which business owner do you think connected more with his target audience? You are right if you said business owner #2. He took the time to understand that his customers are outside in the elements and are in need of protection and compact items that they can easily take with them. The trade show attendee feels like this business owner really understands them and considers that brand as one of them. They are more apt to give this company and their products/services serious consideration when presented with a buying decision. They are also more likely to use his giveaways, which keeps this brand in front of them and helps position them as top of mind.
Take your time and get to know your customer. It will help you identify who you should be talking to, where and how and make your marketing efforts more productive. It will also help you build more solid long-term relationships which results in profitability.

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