Creative strategies to effectively target new customers

Julie Gorham

This doesn’t sound fun, but it’s valuable for your company to understand changing interests – to learn why customers defect or remain loyal. When was the last time your interviewed your staff? They often see the customers and your business from a completely different perspective. The results of this effort may alter the direction of a campaign, message or strategy. I asked one business owner if I could interview his employees without repercussion even if he didn’t like the answers (I knew he wasn’t going to like the answers). The owner agreed and the answers were surprising. The result was improved employee morale, a shift if marketing messaging, better administrative support and a new company tagline.

Become social – pull vs. push marketing

Social media is about sharing information, and people are sharing everything that’s interesting or important to them. Search social sites for subjects and topics related to your industry or service and identify new trends. Listen to what customers are saying – good and bad experiences – and where they are searching. Measure your business against their standards and ask yourself if you are ready to target new customers. Consider engaging on a social level and sharing valuable information that will establish trust. Posting a blog on your website with a social media plug-in that can post content to the social media sites keeps your website relevant, search friendly, and ensures that prospective customers can pull content from you that matters to them. Now they are targeting you!

Are you promoting your entire product or service lines?

Large organizations are effective at channel management to ensure they maximize their revenue potential. Smaller businesses tend to sell some of their services while neglecting others. One client, a wood floor refinisher, had difficulty competing against sole proprietors who were undercutting him on price because they had no employees. While we discussed selling on the value of the services provided, discovery revealed that he offered a top-coat service with a higher profit margin than wood floor refinishing, and the services could easily be performed in between resurfacing projects. In addition, this service was a considerably lower price point for the customer but made a big difference in the look of the floors. This product had mass appeal! The client was encouraged to realize this service was his greatest opportunity.

Network marketing to reach new customers

Whether you have a conservative budget or are confident you can help someone else solve a problem, networking is a win-win.

The same wood finishing client previously mentioned needed cost-effective advertising solutions. The client mentioned a real estate agent he helped to sell a property. He said the first thing home shoppers do when they walk into a house is look down. Ugly carpet can be a turn-off. The client suggested that the homeowners replace the carpets with wood floors and they did. That house sold in one week. Replicating his effort simply required a marketing flyer and a phone call to brokers and agents. Referral business is the most valuable business and is easy to obtain if you are solving problems. This sale resulted from one conversation. What is one conversation worth to your company?

Understand your media options and stay out of the fray

Investigate publications, products, online services and promotional opportunities where your competitors are not found. You will have a captive audience. A unique situation arose in which a competitor of an existing client was interested in my services. While I wouldn’t ordinarily entertain a relationship, their businesses were uniquely different enough and there were many marketing products from which to choose, so there wasn’t a need for conflict. I researched the revenue generated for this product category (in their city) and compared it to their market share. There were plenty of customers to gain and sales to be made! Products that were a perfect fit for one client wouldn’t have been for the other. Understanding your company’s unique strengths as well as your competitors is valuable knowledge. Both clients have grown their businesses and are still my customers. As long as the media product is a geographic and demographic match for your business, set your business apart!

Julie Gorham is the owner of Marketing EQ, a Vancouver-based marketing firm. She can be reached at julie@marketingeq.com or by visiting www.marketingeq.com.

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