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Using targeted marketing to increase your reach and your business

Oftentimes business owners have misconceptions about the importance of marketing and what it really is. They see it as some kind of lead-generating slot machine: Sometimes it works, other times it’s just a waste of money. But you can use marketing systematically to grow your business- and it doesn’t have to be such a gamble.

When deployed properly, the right marketing will increase your business. Here are five proven steps to generating more business through utilizing a more effective and consistent target marketing strategy.

 Identify Your Target Market

The first step is to identify your target market and to break it down into customer segments. Failure to take this all important step is the primary reason why most small business owners think marketing is like playing the slot machines. If you skip this step, your marketing efforts will continue to be hit or miss. But if you are diligent about identifying the most worthwhile market segments to market to, your marketing efforts will generate a more consistent source of new leads.

With target marketing, you don’t need to worry about being able to compete against the Goliaths in your industry nor will you spend countless hours and money trying to recruit uninterested prospects for your products or services. Start revisiting your past client list to identify what types of people have used your products or services. Are they older people? High-income wage earners? Low-income families? Businesses? More than likely, there are multiple customer segments that you have serviced in the past. From here, go through your records more thoroughly and determine which segment generated the most income for your business, and target that group first.

Once you have some success with your first targeted segment, your income will be more consistent (according to the 80/20 Principle) and you can begin to set aside more money for marketing. With that extra budget, you can target some of the other segments that you have done business with in the past. This helps to create a profit cycle that can continue until you’ve maximized your company’s capabilities.

Find a More Specific Niche

Once you have identified your target market, ask yourself a few simple questions. What is this specific group of people thinking about or talking about? What are their primary concerns, fears and problems? With this information you can develop a more specific market strategy that provides solutions to these problems and set yourself apart as the go-to person to address their particular needs.

As you begin to develop your strategy to have identified your target market’s interests, think EDUCATION first  – sale  last! Why? Because people are tired of hearing worn-out, old sales pitches. Barriers shoot up the moment you begin delivering a sales pitch. Today more than ever, people are looking for solutions to their problems rather than a product that leaves them feeling sold to.

As such, you should avoid pitching to your prospects—cast a wider net by offering your prospects some useful information.  Education-based marketing is a powerful marketing strategy that establishes trust and credibility using educational messages. It is the direct opposite of traditional marketing, which uses sales-based messages. In contrast, people are more open and receptive when you share important facts and expert information that enables them to be more informed in making a buying decision.

If you can educate them first on the benefits of green household cleaning products, then they will come to you for more information later when they want to buy these types of products. Hip replacement companies for the elderly educate first on the latest research and again let them ask you about how your product will help them. The beauty of education-based marketing is that you give prospective clients what they want, information and advice – and remove what they don’t want, another boring sales pitch.

Select Profitable Products

Next, identify the products or services that create the most income for you. It may be that the products you sell for the highest margins are also the hardest to sell. If that’s the case, focus your marketing on the easiest-to-sell products or services with the broadest market base. Then, when you have steady income coming in from those products or services, move on to more lucrative offerings.

Or it may be that you have a product for which it is particularly hard to market to low-income clients, for instance. In this case, you should work on generating a list of the prospects for which this particular product matches their price point and promote it directly to this segment using key words and phrases that appeal to their sense of value.

Either way, the key is to get the ball rolling with the low-hanging fruit of your business first. These are the customers who will be the easiest to acquire and the quickest to sell to. Then you can move on to promoting and selling the more profitable products and services you offer.

Promote to Your Market

When it comes to targeted marketing for small businesses, postcard marketing is a very inexpensive yet effective way to go. The key to a successful postcard marketing campaign is a highly specialized mailing list. By now, you know exactly who to target (thanks to step one), and now all you have to do is get a mailing list of those types of people. The right direct-mail postcard company can help you with this.

Once you have the list, you must mail to it- consistently. Without consistent mailing, you are sure to see little results. With consistent mailing, you are sure to see results. Of you have the right list of prospects, the more you mail to them, the more likely they are to respond. This is especially true in industries where your product or service is not needed all the time.

Follow Up

Good marketers follow up with their prospects and existing customers in a variety of ways. They return phone calls, send polite reminders, ask questions about satisfaction, and continue to provide value added information and gentle reminders about what’s important to the customer.

When your marketing materials generate interest, you have to actually continue through with the dialog until it results in a sale, or until you are sure it WON’T result in a sale. Your marketing materials alone aren’t going to close anyone- that’s your job. The primary reason for failure on the part of new businesses is the failure to follow up. They read about what they should do, they may actually make a list, and even perhaps venture into trying it out once or twice. But most marketing methods (especially free or low cost ones), have to become routine.

People like to know that you care about them personally and that they mean more to you than just another sale. Incorporating a personal touch into your follow up will often make the difference between window shoppers, and lifelong customers.

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            The process is pretty simple: Research your past clients/sales and identify exactly who your ideal prospects will be. Then, develop your targeted marketing campaign (with a specialized mailing list) to promote to that target segment. Finally, once you have some steady leads coming in, make sure that you follow up with those leads. Devise the routine, and then stick to it. Keep sticking to it, and don’t quit.

            Regular marketing tasks are essential, and can be the difference between success and failure. If you have enough new leads coming in, some of them are bound to run into sales. It may sound simple, but not enough small business owners are willing to take the initial risk of regularly setting aside a marketing budget. If you do- and you remain consistent- you will see positive results.