Marketing is one of the most important but least understood skills for business owners to master.  Many businesses owners seem to grow their businesses without really knowing which aspects of their marketing (if any) are effective.  And more importantly, they don’t know what alternatives they have to maintain that growth, should there be a downturn in the market.

If you are one of those business owners, it’s vital that you start taking a more strategic approach to your marketing efforts. That way, you’ll get the best return on your marketing investment, and you might even have some fun in the process!

Read on for my tips on the best way to attract more of the customers you want to your business. But first, we need to answer a seemingly simple question.

What is marketing?

There are many definitions of marketing, but this is the one I like best:

“Marketing is the activity of communicating with and educating our existing and potential customers on why they should buy from us.” 

When we look at marketing in this way, hopefully what we need to do starts to become clearer. We need to know who we are talking to, what we want to say and how we are going to say it.

Or to put it even more simply, Target, Offer, Copy.

Hit the target

Of these three areas, by far the most important is the Target, i.e. who we want to talk to.  As soon as we get real clarity around that, the rest of the marketing gets so much easier.

For example, let’s say you are running a high-end, women’s hairdressing salon in Winchester.  What you want to educate people about is the fact that you have the very best stylists in the area. There is no point wasting your time and money trying to tell everybody about your business.  Most people won’t be interested, as it’s just not relevant to them.

In this example, your potential market is very defined in terms of gender, affluence and geographic area.  This makes your task much easier.  You need to look at how you can focus in on exactly the people you really want to tell about your products and services (i.e. wealthy women in and around Winchester!)

But first, you need to consider whether you want your existing customers to come back more often, or whether you want new customers.  Whilst existing customers should be your first point of call, I am going to assume that you already have strategies to keep in contact with them, and you are looking for new customers.

Grade your customers

Looking at your existing customer base is in fact a good place to start in identifying who we want as new clients.  I recommend categorising your client base into A, B, C and D grade customers:

  • A’s are your “Awesome customers”– those that buy everything you sell, are a joy to work with, and pay you on time.
  • B’s are your “Basic customers”– they buy a fair amount of your products and cause no fuss in buying from you.
  • C’s are your “Could do better customers”– they only buy a small percentage of what you sell, and don’t seem to understand why you are so good.
  • Then there are your D graders, “Dead-end customers”– they quibble over price, complain about what you do, and take up more time and effort than is reasonable for the amount of business they bring.

Needless to say, you want to attract more A grade customers to your business!  To achieve this, start by identifying and writing down exactly what it is that makes an A grade customer for your business.  Then you can start to see if there are any common features that you can look for in new customers.

Going back to the hairdressing business example, let’s say your A grade customers are 40-50 year old professional women living in the Winchester area.

Get the offer right

So now you know who you want to talk to, you can decide what you want to educate them to think about you, i.e. create a compelling offer.

In this case, your target clientele are probably money-rich and time-poor.  When they do things, they want to make the most of the experience, and don’t mind paying a premium price.

Therefore, you need to let them know how you can save them time, and make them feel special while doing it.  You should therefore be thinking of showing what extras you provide that will make their experience with you better than your competitors.  It’s your chance to get creative!  Here are just a few of my suggestions:

  • Free WIFI, so they can catch up on their e-mails or social media;
  • Good quality coffee/tea, or maybe even prosecco!
  • Appointment reminders by text;
  • Product samples to take away;
  • Special deals with local top quality shops, restaurants or beauticians.

Copy, copy

So you now have your target and a compelling offer.  The next step is to find the best way to communicate with your potential new customers.  For this, you need to think about where they live and socialise, what they read and listen to, and what other people they buy from.  This information will help you decide on the most appropriate form of marketing (copy), be it print, radio, online, etc.  The list is long, but a few options will stand out as being the most cost effective, and most likely to succeed for your particular target customers.

Measure, review, refine

Finally, “What gets measured, gets improved” – you must test and measure the results of your marketing campaigns (i.e. ask your new customers where they heard about you!)

That enables you to assess what marketing strategies are working for you, and what needs tweaking or rethinking.  Don’t forget, marketing should be an INVESTMENT, not a COST.  Put simply, each £1 you spend on marketing needs to make you more than £1 in gross profit!

I hope this article has helped you to recognise that spending time to target your market makes marketing so much easier, and more fun too.  So go on, take ACTION, and get your target market in your sights today!