Most entrepreneurs understand that advertising is the process of communicating to prospects what is unique about their business, product or service. It is your company’s voice and an investment designed to improve and expand business. Advertising is what helps your small business get found by consumers and is one of the five factors that makes a business “Findable.”
Being “Findable” means a business is visible to consumers where and when they’re ready to buy. There are five key marketing components or factors that help identify how findable a business is to consumers including: Brand, Physical Location, Advertising, Online Presence, and Reputation & Community. The degree at which a local business is engaged in each factor plays an important role in determining their overall visibility.
Make it count
Given the state of the current economy, few businesses can afford to waste precious resources on advertising that doesn’t get seen or generate leads. Every dollar has to count. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure your advertising is seen by the right people in the right places at the right time. And the best way to do that is by defining your target market.
“Everyone” is not a target market
One of the most common mistakes among business owners is assuming everyone is interested in your product or service. You can’t be everything to everybody. If you try to speak to the needs of every consumer, you’ll have an ad no one will be interested in reading. Even grocery stores have a defined target market of those consumers that are most likely to buy from them. But grocers are certainly more than happy to sell to those that fall outside their target market, too.
Defining a target market
Whether you’re selling to consumers or other businesses, defining your target market is basically trying to create a mental picture or profile of your typical customer.
- For starters, examine whatever information you already have in your current
customer database information
- Database. Look for any common demographic characteristicse
- Income level, geographic location, education level, marital status
- Family status, occupation, ethnic group, and buying habits.
Don’t be afraid to get specific.
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of defining a target market that’s too broad such as work-at-home moms. The needs of a work-at-home mom with kids under six is way different from the needs of a work-at-home mom with teenagers. And the needs of that same work-at-home mom in a lower income bracket versus the needs of a work-at-home mom in a higher income bracket can vary greatly. If you owned a children’s dance studio, a sample target market might be: work-at-home moms, ages 30-45, with a household income of at least $70K, with kids ages 3-10, looking for an activity to get everyone out of the house, and living within a 5-mile radius of your business.
Creating your messaging.
Now that you have a better idea of who your target is, determining what to say and making your copy more relevant to them should be much easier. And while creative executions will depend on your marketing objectives, here are some basic tips to keep your messages from getting lost in the crowd:
- Keep messaging simple. Don’t try to say too much in every communication. Complex messages are easily passed over. White space (area without text) in an ad is usually a good thing.
- Differentiate from your competitors. Point out why you’re different and what makes you better than your competition.
- Use language and imagery that resonates with your target. Speak and communicate with your target in a way they would understand. Don’t talk over their heads, don’t dumb it down too far. Make sure you’re solving a real problem for them.
- Be unique. Make sure your communications are exclusively yours. Use layouts, colors and imagery that won’t be easily confused with the competition.
Reaching your target market.
Today’s myriad of media options seem to grow every day. Local businesses should cross-promote using multiple touch points across different forms of media to effectively be seen by and reach their consumers. A good medium for one product or business may be a poor choice for another. Think about which mediums have worked well in the past and which ones haven’t. The best place to reach your target market is to advertise where they have the highest probability of seeing or hearing it. Do they still read newspapers? Do they surf the Internet? Are they on Facebook? Do they watch TV or listen to the radio? It may sound obvious, but if you “fish” where your customers are and where they look for information, they are much more likely to see your advertising.
Test and track your success.
Once you’ve determined where your customers are most likely to see your advertising, it’s always a smart idea to test different mediums and measure the results—and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If your target is Internet savvy, you could try the following tests:
- Test #1 could be posting a special on your Facebook or Twitter page.
- For Test #2, you could reach out to your customer database with the same promotion in an email marketing campaign.
- For Test #3, you could post a coupon with that promotion on your website. Then, place a unique tracking code with each medium to see which channel is producing the best response.
Most importantly, whatever your media choices are, give them time to work. Jumping from medium to medium every month will not increase your visibility. Consumers need time and repetition to see and remember your message. Some experts say a consumer needs to be exposed to an ad roughly seven times to remember it. Your advertising success should be judged over the course of many months, not weeks.
Targeting increases visibility.
As tempting as it is to try reaching as many consumers as possible, local businesses don’t have the time or money to be going after everyone. They need to be more precise with their communications and put the right message in front of the right people at the right time. Defining a target market can actually make today’s overwhelming media choices easier to navigate and give you more confidence with your marketing decisions. Placing your message in front of customers that are more likely to buy from you and speaking directly to their needs increase your visibility as well as your business’s Findability.