The series is from Chartered Accountant, consultant and author, Jeff Borschowa, from his book, 8 Pillars for Exponential Business Growth. The series is focused on how to find new and better ways to integrate innovation and technology to enhance the customer experience and improve efficiency in the accounting process.
Marketing encompasses all activities that encourage a prospect to contact you in the first place. In my experience, it is hard to stand out or make any significant gains through traditional marketing, such as television, radio or newspaper advertisements, mainly due to the fact that mass media is exactly that – directed to the masses. For the most part, you target a medium’s entire audience and hope that they identify with you.
Random marketing can produce random results. Before you start marketing, you need to clearly identify the characteristics that represent your ideal customer. Creating a clear picture of the person you will ultimately target with your marketing will drastically improve your results, especially your return on investment for marketing effort and dollars. Your ideal customer will form the basis for any subsequent marketing plan that you develop.
The precision you need will vary with your industry. For example, the big box stores depend on general members of the public, thus mass marketing works for them. Whereas a specialty shop that only sells safety overalls for oil workers will have a very specific target audience. The specialty store has a major advantage, they can define their market very narrowly and focus their marketing efforts strictly on that niche, getting a much higher return on investment than a large chain.
I find that the following are highly effective ways to generate prospects if you can define a narrow niche:
- Attend or host networking events – network with a purpose, focus on groups that cater to your ideal customer. Do not attend another networking event until you read Bob Burg’s book, Endless Referrals.
- Teach or sponsor relevant courses – I offer courses specific to my niche for free to existing customers if they bring another business person with them, leveraging my own customers to build my business. Back to the safety gear company above, you could sponsor safety training that highlights the benefits of your overalls.
- Article writing – if you focus on a specific niche, you can leverage articles in publications that reach your niche to gain customers (free publicity).
Knowing your ideal customer’s characteristics will have a positive impact on the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, thus improving your revenue stream.