I have worked with many organizations over the years, and one thing seems to be a common thread: lack of clarity around the target market. Many clients are looking to find the tools for marketing first. I often here, "We need to expand our social media efforts," or "we need to update our mailings or brochures." These insights seem to stir up a debate between colleagues and the conversation is often met with uncertainty as to which is the best approach.
This always raises a few key questions for me. How do you know that you need to update that information or expand social media? How do you know those are the right tools to hit your target market? Do you even know who your target market is? It seems overwhelming to make a decision about what tools to utilize if you don't know who it is you are trying to market to.
Taking the "tools first" approach often leads to attempts at marketing to everyone, which is more like marketing to no one.
There are really three simple questions that can help to focus your efforts - and once you are clear on who you are trying to reach, the path to marketing becomes clearer. They may seem overly simple, but getting really clear on your market makes your efforts much more focused and effective. The questions are:
1: Who are they? This is not shocking, or even particularly insightful, but it's really important. If you had to name specifically who they are, what would you say? The more specific you can be in this category, the better. Again, you are looking at your target market, not everyone in the world. It doesn't mean that other's can't hear your message, but who are you specifically aiming to sell to? An example of the degree of specificity would be: small businesses between 10-100 employees with revenues between 5 and 50 million.
2: Where are they? Again, the more specific the better. If you are a neighborhood business, attempting to sell to "the world" (or even the whole city) isn't reality for you. If you are a small business, maybe you name a region or a few cities and start there. You can always expand later if you need to, but if you want to get good at selling, you have to be laser focused to start.
3: What is the state of mind of the people you are trying to sell to? This is an important question to ask as it brings you into the psyche of your ideal client. What state of mind do they need to be in for your product to work for them? For example, if you were a company specializing in software you might say that the ideal customer has trouble with their software and is frustrated by the whole thing. They don't want to spend their time thinking about it, they just want it to work... and that's why they need you to come in and fix it for them. This would mean that if a company were satisfied with their software, you wouldn't waste your time marketing to them but rather that you would focus extensively on the market that was dissatisfied.
Once you've answered these key questions, compile a list of individuals, a region, or organizations that meet your criteria and spend you time, money, and energy marketing exclusively to that group. You'll know what tools to use because you'll be clear on who it is you are advertising to. Once you apply your focused energy and utilize the amazing tools at your fingertips, you'll be amazed at what happens.
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