By: Dr. Joe Mayer, Managing Partner of the Mayer Business Group
Finding new, profitable customers is an ongoing high priority task for all small businesses. If you have tried some of the tactics promoted you know, that it is not as easy as to set up a LinkedIn or Facebook account, to tweet or blog to increase customer visibility.
From my work with many small businesses I found that the key to all successful marketing efforts is to know who your potential customers are, what challenges keep them up at night, what information they are looking for and, maybe the most important one, how they expect to find this information. Without having a good answer to these questions, we can spend all our resources to create the best blogs, sophisticated websites or the best LinkedIn or Facebook sites without seeing any results.
To find the answer, we need to get back to our profitable customers whom we currently serve, and their market niches, to define markets and potential customer groups that would likely see similar advantages in our products and services. Only if we know how we help our current profitable customers solve their challenges and how they prefer to get their information, do we have a starting point to act. The emphasis here is on the word “profitable”.
The best way to find those customers, you need to start dissecting your financial statements and looking at profits and opportunities created by your customers. Yes, this is tedious work and you might not like or want to accept what you find. In most cases our profitable customers, those who buy our high margin products and services, are the ones you know the least about. To answer the next question “why do they prefer buying from you” will require connecting with them and asking them some of the following questions:
- Why did you start buying from us
- What value do we provide to you (which nobody else provides)
- What do you see as our strength
- What do we do that others don’t or didn’t
- What frustrates you about our industry as a whole
- What one word would describe our products and services best
By listening intently to their answers, you can get a very good feeling for your value proposition. You should use these touch points to further your relationship with key people in your customers’ organization. If you don’t sell on price, your value proposition and relationship to the customer will help to retain this account.
The next step is to find market niches which are looking to solve similar challenges. After you decide which niche to address first, you need to evaluate (by asking potential customers in that niche) how they research and how they prefer to receive their information.
Equipped with that knowledge you are ready to define a marketing strategy that creates the best environment to attract new customers. The mix between push and pull marketing strategies should become obvious. Under push or outbound marketing we understand all the traditional activities from attending trade shows, direct or e-mail marketing, telemarketing or traditional advertising. Inbound or pull marketing provides potential customers with information they can find on their own prior to connecting with you. Most of the social media platforms help with this task. One special form of inbound marketing is the so-called content marketing, where companies provide valuable information in form of white-papers and blogs to their target audience; by gaining recognition as experts within your target market, potential customers will search websites for answers. Pay per Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are other tools often used.
So, before you embark on new marketing activities, be very clear about whom you want to attract and how these potential customers prefer to receive their information. Just by setting up a Facebook site and advertising that you will raffle off an iPad to the first five hundred visitors who link to your site, you will get exactly what you are asking for. Five hundred people interested in winning an iPad. None interested in becoming your customer.
If you have questions regarding efficient strategies to find your target market and how to effectively reach potential customers, attend our workshop at the upcoming BizConCLE October 13 and 14 or give Joe Mayer a call @ 216.408.6324.