“It’s not personal, it’s business.”
As any small business owner can attest, this old adage does not apply to small business.
Success is deeply rooted in being personal.
Understanding and connecting with your customers is the cornerstone of building and sustaining a small business, whether your company is product-based or service-oriented.
This concept should find its way into every aspect of your business, including marketing, which can sometimes be an overwhelming aspect of building and growing a small business. There are many questions that come into play such as: Should I choose traditional marketing avenues or go digital only? Is it better to canvass entire communities or favor a targeted approach?
While it may sometimes feel that a broad-based, energy-intensive marketing plan would be the key to drawing more customers in, this can often lead to a disappointing outcome. A blanketed marketing approach, such as postcards delivered to an entire zip code month after month, can end up being money thrown away. In my real estate business, I have worked to target the most likely customers and find a way to personalize my approach. For example, I took my entire zip code and narrowed down my mailing addresses to people that only meet certain criteria. This includes:
- People who have lived in their homes for over six years
- Have a good amount of equity
- Are currently living in the home
By following these criteria and finding a unique way to make my outreach personal, I am able to get the same results as sending to an entire zip code for a quarter of the price.
When it comes to marketing, more work doesn’t always equal better.
Be intentional with your efforts and be smart. Don’t just wait to see what sticks.
As a real estate agent, I make it a priority to envision an ideal customer profile for each and every property I am looking to sell, then I build a marketing plan accordingly. Each property has its own unique neighborhood demographics and characteristics, which draws a specific type of customer. For example, if I have a home in an older area in which many younger families are moving in, I will concentrate my marketing dollars on a more digital campaign using social media platforms geared towards first-time homeowners. Social media advertising has become an invaluable tool to reach specific demographics, allowing business owners to truly target their intended audience.
When I list a home in an area I know is desirable for people purchasing a second home, I will adjust my home description and pictures to convey a little more of a vacation feel. Then I will spend a portion of my marketing budget on direct mail and digital ads in cities around the country with residents who are typically looking for vacation homes in that particular area.
Refining how to accurately and effectively build a buyer profile helped focus my marketing efforts, which reduce the amount of time, money and stress spent on any given property. This is a concept that can be applied to any small business looking to boost their clientele.
It starts with introspection followed by a commitment to putting in time to really craft a plan.
Define your ideal customer base and put it on paper.
First ask: Who do I want to come into my store and purchase product? Who do I want calling me for business? Who is the person most likely to purchase my product or need my services?
Create fictitious characters/persona that embody everything you’re looking for in a customer and remember to be specific. Create someone you can even bounce ideas off of and ask rhetorical questions about.
Write down your persona’s profession, income, family life, concerns, desires, and hobbies.
Then write down another version, and another one, until you feel as if you have a sufficient representation of the types of people you feel will seek out your business.
Next: Research your persona.
This is an important step to shift the fictitious and abstract into a reality.
Delve into the neighborhoods you wish to conduct your business in and get a feel for the atmosphere, the energy and the types of businesses that are already well-established in the area. What succeeds in that neighborhood, and what fails?
Take note of the habits of the real-life customers you’re hoping to pull in:
- Where do they shop?
- What are their spending habits?
- What do they do for leisure?
Although there can be a crossover between demographics, how you appeal to a single, up-and-coming business professional might look vastly different from how you appeal to an established family with teenage children or a couple approaching retirement.
Not only will your marketing strategy look different, but your marketing messaging will need to adjust to resonate with your ideal customer(s).
It’s also more than likely that your business will draw more than one type of ideal customer profile, but it’s important to go through these exercises to know which strategies to hold on to and which to let go.
It’s important to put your time, energy and dollars into the places where you are most likely to see results; to study your customers and adapt to what they’re looking for.
It’s important to get personal.