By Michael Noone
The right audience is the key ingredient in all sales, marketing and business plans. It is also the key factor when considering your branding (design style, typefaces, colours, photography and tone of voice in copywriting).
Anyone in sales and marketing knows what a target audience is and has some idea on how to reach them, but what about your small business that has just started up because of their sheer passion for clothes/coffee/food/fitness? How do you find your customers and convert them into sales?
What is an audience?
What is a target audience?
How do I reach them effectively?
How do I do it on my budget of $ (whatever dollars I can bear to part with)?
Firstly, let’s be crystal clear; an audience is made up of people. People are smart and don’t like it when you waste their time, they deserve respect. You and I are people and we’re smart, but you probably also loathe seeing ads pop up all the time as much as the next person… except when you actually need that thing they’re selling, then you’re a tad more interested.
An audience is anyone that is likely to see your shop, your advertisement, website, Facebook page etc.
Your target audience is all of the people that are likely to want or need your particular goods or services, especially in the near future. If you’re a plumber, everyone will want or need your services at some stage in their life, but your target audience is the people most likely to make the decision about the money spent in the near future – a fellow tradie, landlords / real estate, people with blocked drains.
So how do we reach this particular set of people (Target Audience) without knocking on every door of every business and every home in every street throughout the whole of Greater Sydney?
I have listed out 5 steps to take beforeyou start advertising and even before you start your business. It is MUCH easier to get these things right now, and adjust slightly as you go, rather than having to completely re-invent yourself in two years’ time.
1. What do YOU want to do? Decide what direction you want to take your business in, what type of work you want to do, why you want to do it and your ideal locations to work. This might sound too specific, but in a competitive marketplace and with a limited budget you need to try and focus your resources, especially your time on achieving the goal you set for your business.
2. Decide on a monthly or yearly budget. Various business models will have different percentages, but most estimates are between 5 – 7% of yearly revenue. Depending on your own ability or that of your team you could make this number a little smaller… or you could approach it like Red Bull does and pour 90% into advertising! However, this figure should really be determined by step 1.
3. Research, research, research. Make sure you know who and what you’re up against. Make sure you know the up and down seasons of your industry – there’s no point advertising snow shoes in the height of summer, you will never sell the volume of stock you need to make profit. Be sure that your location is the best it can be with your budget, there’s a very clear reason why luxury brands don’t set up on the outskirts of suburban Sydney – they would NEVER get the clientele, let alone the sheer volume of foot-traffic required to make a sale.
4. Branding and Advertising Now that you know so much about your business and your competitors it is time to talk to navigate the vast array of advertising and media channels and combine them for the most effective way to reach your audience and convince them that you’re the optimal choice to meet their needs. But you must ALWAYS keep your audience in mind; where are they most likely to see and respond to my advertising? Threaded through these considerations is the need to keep your image, message and customer experience consistent – this is the branding.
The Marketing example: If you want to be the best local plumber you definitely want all the neighbours of every home you visit to know you were there – so wrap your ute in some flashy signage. But you also want everyone else in the surrounding suburbs to know that you’re the best, so you target those suburbs with Facebook advertising and offer a small incentive to customers to write up a good review on your Facebook page… coupled with two months of ads in the local Newspaper (not everyone has Facebook) and you're on your way. Down the track you might even look at sponsoring a local sporting team or club, but that’s definitely not a great launch strategy – unless you’re a dentist selling mouthguards to footballers.
The Branding Designer: You will need to decide if you want to look like you fit, or just flat-out stand out from the crowd like a Peacock at a Pigeon festival. This decision will have an enormous impact on your design style, colours, photography, messaging and the way you go about your work, but the branding also needs to be an honest reflection of who and what your company actually stand for. There is absolutely no point looking, sounding and setting up like a luxury brand if you’re going to sell cheap army style watches to teenagers.
5. Customer Service. Good customer service is the one guaranteed way to win more work.If you can exceed expectations, or even surprise them with extraordinary service, you will definitely find yourself getting enquiries from all of that person’s friends and connections. Here are some of the basics and next level considerations for your business;
- Courtesy SMS or phone call reminders – “your appointment is at 9am tomorrow”
- Show up on time
- Free gift wrapping (for retailers, not plumbers)
- Wear a uniform
- Mind your manners, not everyone swears as much as you do
- ALWAYS take your shoes off if you’re going into someone’s home
- Thank you cards – handwritten… please don’t bother if it isn’t
- Regular progress reports
- A small gift at the end
- A follow up call, or visit, two weeks after the conclusion of the project
- Remember their names
- Provide solutions that exceed the client expectation