Even in a digital world, many people still look forward to receiving their daily mail. With direct mail, you can address your customers by name, offering a more personalized approach. Moreover, a wide variety of inexpensive and easy formats are available. “Val Pak” can connect you to prospective customers in your zip code. You can also use simple postcards—or doorknob hangers—to target a smaller area, such as your immediate neighborhood.
The basic ways to isolate and speak to the ideal customers in your market fall into three categories:
For home service companies, this is crucial. Unlike a restaurant or a retail store, customers will not come to you. You are going to the homes of customers to perform a service. So you want to target a segment based on customers who live in a certain radius from your office in order to minimize the distance your employees travel. This includes the gas and time spent going from your office in the morning to each job performed in the day and back to the office in the evening. Limiting your marketing to the geographic area near your office is the best way to improve your return on investment.
However, if you are delivering a product, you may need to whittle down your market segments more complex ways. These segments should be based on postal and delivery roots, the location where your product is stored or sold, and so on. The concept remains the same: where are your ideal customers located and what is the most efficient and shortest route between your product/service and your customer.
I recommend spending a little money on a data list of your potential areas of business. You may not love it yourself when companies collect and share data, but it is the most effective way for a business to make sure your advertising is going to the most likely customers. Data is at the heart of any marketing strategy. I like to use MelissaData [www.melissadata.com] and the US Postal Service for data lists. I can call up MelissaData, request names and addresses (including businesses, apartments, PO boxes, and homes), then send out advertisements to homes that represent the highest household incomes within 15 miles from my office.
Demographic segments can include income, household value, age, marital status, or any other MEASURABLE statistic. These are incredibly valuable when targeting your marketing. This is why I constantly tell young entrepreneurs to know who their ideal or most likely customer is. If you don’t have an idea, research who is buying from your competitors or a company similar to yours in a different area. If you do have an idea. Do more research to see if that is your best customer. Are there other types of customers that you didn’t anticipate? I remember that Gold Bond was astounded to find out that in addition to the AARP crowd that had been their bread and butter, adolescent men were the second largest purchaser of their product. Are you neglecting a segment of your community?
This is the best way to use social media marketing when you are a small business. Psychographic segments are based on lifestyle. Some examples are cat lovers, living in the suburbs versus the country, watchers of football or Mad Men. If you have an active social media presence, do a couple tests. Say your company lives in Baltimore, when the Orioles have a home game, post some updates on big moments on the game through your company’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. If your followers respond, then you know you have customers who are fans of MLB baseball. Would it make sense to advertise near the stadium, in fliers, on local sports radio? Likewise, if you make a reference on social media to The Wire and you get a lot of response, then you can research who are the most common audiences of the TV show. Young men? Middle-aged women? College grads? People who live within the city limits of Baltimore?
Traditionally, this kind of information requires focus groups and databases of information only major marketing firms have access to. So like most companies, you will either find out the psychographics of your ideal customers through interactions over time, or you will start crafting this customer base through your branding strategy. My best advice here is to keep your ears and eyes open when dealing with customers.
Based on these three segments, write out descriptions of the types of people based on geographic, demographic, and psychographic types. How will you reach these types in the best way possible? For adults spread out over large areas consider radio and TV broadcasting. For younger people try social media and the web. It shouldn’t be too hard to come up with a few ideas to start testing out and researching. Next week, we’ll talk about advertising!