You likely know that you need a marketing strategy for your small business, but creating one can often be a daunting task. Such an undertaking can be quite confusing given the wide range of platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Snapchat that all claim to be “the place” where your customers are hanging out, just waiting for your brand message. Before you set up a Facebook business page or draft marketing slogans, these three key steps can help guide your thinking toward a robust strategy that works for your business. Here’s how to identify your niche in the marketplace, your target audience, and the most effective ways to reach customers.
1. Figure out who your customers are
Before you can create a marketing strategy, you need to know what type of person or company is most likely to become a customer through a process known as audience profiling. Audience profiling requires both qualitative and quantitative research. It helps you identify the characteristics that current customers and those of rival companies have in common. Profile information might include age, gender, income level, and profession for individual customers. When you decide which audience to target, don’t base your decision solely on which group is most likely to conduct business with your company. Also, consider who is likely to become return customers. These people or groups will be the most valuable and as such should get special consideration. They represent financially valuable business opportunities and provide a greater possibility for a long-term relationship and increased spending over time.
2. Know where to reach your customers
The characteristics of your target audience should inform your marketing strategy. Think about the targeted customer’s priorities and the type of information or special offers that would entice them to try your service. Determine how your business can become most visible to this audience. In an actual scenario, you would choose the most relevant platforms for advertisements and public relations opportunities based on the media your customers use. Researching your target audience demographics, such as location, age and gender, can help you make an informed decision on which platforms are best. As a quick comparison, Facebook users tend to skew older while an Instagram user skews younger. Don’t forget real-world events! Research the events your potential customers are likely to attend.
3. Understand the needs and preferences of your customer
Audience profiling should inform your marketing strategy and product development. Small businesses need to be agile and adapt to the needs of their customers, which may change over time. Take the initiative. Send a survey to the customers in your email database to learn what factors influence their buying decisions. When you reach out to your audience, you’ll receive feedback from your most engaged customers and show them that you care about serving their individual and collective needs. Attract more responses by including a special offer for those who take part in the survey. Once you’ve collected the data, analyze the results and use it to influence future product development decisions.
If the resources to handle such tasks aren’t available in-house, consider outsourcing these tasks to your trusted marketing firm.