Whether you realize it or not, your company markets itself each and every day. Through advertising, branding, or customer service, your company’s identity is forged by each interaction with a customer. But just because your company is marketing doesn’t mean it’s actually connecting with your audience.
As John Maxwell says in his book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, “If you’re going to connect, people need to know that you understand them.” Truth is, most companies never invest the time or resources required to actually know and understand their market. As a result, they fail to grow and prosper.
So, what can you do to break this habit and engage with customers in a deeper, more effective way? Here’s how to evolve your marketing strategy to quit passively communicating and start actively connecting to your audience.
The Right Market
Many companies lack a defined profile of who their market is. Rather than take the time to find out, they simply copy competitors or fall back on assumptions and bias.
This oversight costs businesses the ability to truly understand their customers and what they want. You can avoid this fate by taking the time to clearly identify the right market for your business.
Start by creating a persona outlining the exact, detailed characteristics of people you believe are your core audience. Imagine your most probable client—the one type of person that could really use your services. Get narrow. Think of their location, occupation, income level, interests, and motivations. Use this persona to craft your message.
Persona marketing works for every industry and product and is the first step to creating marketing that connects. However, it’s not enough to merely identify the right market. Unless you also understand them, your message won’t connect.
The Right Message
In marketing, message is everything.
Successful companies know exactly what their customers want and craft messaging that speaks directly to them. You can do this too by empathizing with your customers. Focus on their needs and wants. Then, create a message that demonstrates your understanding by identifying a problem of theirs and offering a solution. It can agitate or inspire, but it must connect.
If you’re a retailer and your customers are price-sensitive, focus on providing them with value. If you’re a high-end clothing brand, sell status and a lifestyle dream. Understanding who your customers are helps your message and branding to connect.
Case Study: The Home Depot
The Home Depot shows us a great example of crafting a message to a specific market. In the early 2000s, The Home Depot was struggling with sales due to competition from Lowes. When new CMO Trish Mueller was hired, she set out to solve this problem. As her team dug into the data, they realized their company was missing a major opportunity with women shoppers.
While their core audience was men, they found that women were the ones who actually made the purchasing decisions. Men were their highest in-store visitors, but they often shopped at the request of their wives. This was an insight The Home Depot had missed for years because it was the men who paid at checkout.
With this data in mind, The Home Depot began crafting messages to this new audience segment. They started do-it-yourself classes geared toward women and began marketing appliances and tools for female audiences. In an article on the rebound success of The Home Depot, Forbes says:
As we rolled downhill into the Great Recession, Lowe’s was still running TV ads that basically exhorted consumers to redo their roofs, floors, fences, backyard swing sets, and other expensive projects that homeowners could no longer afford. A trip to YouTube will help you find them. Home Depot focused on…re-painting rooms. More interesting, the historic Home Depot customer was supposed to be male, perhaps a contractor. Yet it was women in those commercials who were doing the painting. And the company’s new combination primer-paint, while earning disdain from some contractors, appealed to women.
By understanding their market and creating a message to speak to them, The Home Depot overcame lackluster sales and fierce competition.
The Right Media
Now that you’ve identified your market and fine-tuned your message to them, it’s time to pick your media.
Think about your customers: where do they spend their time? Maybe they’re foodies constantly on food blogs or TripAdvisor, or perhaps they’re sports fanatics and consume cable TV. Once you know where your audience spends its time, you know where to target them with your message. More often than not, you’ll find yourself heading to the digital landscape.
The beauty of digital marketing is that you can micro-target audiences and see the results in real-time. All the major platforms, including Facebook, Google, and Twitter allow you to create custom audiences based on your market’s jobs, location, interests, and behaviors.
If you’re questioning whether or not this will work for your business, consider this: Facebook has over 2.2 billion active users each day, and Google receives over 5.6 billion searches on a given day.
Whether you have a broad-appeal product that would benefit from brand awareness campaigns or you cater to a niche market that responds well to conversion-marketing, these platforms can adapt to your company’s needs.
Regardless of your industry or your marketing goal, creating a connection to your audience, you must know your market, craft the right message, and target your media placement.
This process, while simple, can be grueling. At times it helps to have outside, objective input to get it right. At ASUN Digital we are more than just data strategists and developers; we help our clients connect with their audiences every day. If you’d like help, please get in touch. We’d be glad to help your company connect and grow.