Business marketing

What to do if your marketing isn’t reaching enough of the right people

- May 30, 2017 5 MIN READ

Your marketing needs to be consistently seen by the right people in order to gain traction. These tips will help you with your marketing reach.

When it comes to dividing up their budgets, big business marketers typically invest a relatively small proportion of their cash in the creation of ads and other promotional material, and a much, MUCH larger sum on making sure those ads are seen.

Lots of analysis and strategic thinking sits behind where they choose to place their ads. They’ll often have a specialist media buying agency on hand to crunch the numbers and help them make effective decisions about where each ad should be published/shown in order to be seen by as many people in the target market as possible, and the frequency with which it should appear to have maximum impact.

At the end of the day, it’s all about ensuring that the marketing budget works as hard as it can in order for the campaign to have optimal reach. (In marketing-speak, ‘reach’ refers to the number of people who are exposed to a piece of marketing material at least once).

As a small business owner, you’re probably playing with a much smaller budget, so you have even more reason to get strategic about appealing to people in your target market and reaching them in sufficient quantities to make a difference to your business.

Here are three simple steps you can take to start applying this big business marketing strategy to your marketing activity and improve your marketing reach.

1. Get clear about your target market

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to develop a crystal-clear picture of your target market.

  • Who are they?
  • Where are they?
  • How do they feel?
  • What problem can you help them solve?
  • What other solutions are available to them besides yours?
  • What’s likely to prompt them to make a decision to purchase from you?
  • What could prevent them?
  • Where do they shop?
  • What do they read, watch and listen to?
  • And where do they hang out, both online and in real life?

These are just a few of the many questions you should be asking yourself about your customers, or better still asking your customers themselves.

Tapping into your marketing superpower of empathy to get inside your audience’s hearts and minds like this enables you to be more laser-focused in your marketing messages, and about where you should put them.

TIP: While many small business owners try to appeal to as broad a target market as possible in order to include all the people as they can, doing the reverse is usually more effective. Making your target market super-specific enables you to zoom in on those people who just might buy your product, and means you won’t waste your money, time or energy on those who never will.

In practical terms, if you’re a massage therapist, that’s the difference between thinking of your target market as ‘Anyone who’s stressed’ and narrowing it down further to ‘People living or working within five kilometres of my suburb who earn more than $80,000 per year in a stressful job, place a high value on their personal wellbeing and peace of mind, and love any excuse to indulge in massage monthly’.

Those two understandings of who the target market is are like chalk and cheese, right? And within a few moments of reading the second, tighter and more detailed description, I bet you’re starting to come up with some marketing ideas for our friendly masseur. That’s what narrowing down your target market can do for you too.

2. Put your marketing messages where your target audience will see them

Now that you know who your intended audience is, it’s time to start developing some strategies for getting your marketing in front of their faces.

Putting it on your website, on social media and in your email newsletter is definitely a good start, but the reality is that unless you’ve already invested significant time and/or money in developing your base of subscribers and followers, you’ll probably need to do more in order to reach a decent number of people.

Think about each aspect of your marketing activity in terms of the percentage of people who are likely to do something in response to it and you’ll start to get to grips with why expanding your reach is so critical to success.

For example, an email newsletter typically results in a click-through to a website from less than 3% of readers, of whom an even smaller percentage make a purchase. Your own click-through results might be higher or lower than that, but the question to ask yourself is, ‘If 3% of my audience click (take action) in response to this, will it result in a meaningful difference to my business?’

Using the example above, if you’ve only got 300 subscribers in your database, you’d expect around nine of them (3%) to click on a link in your newsletter to learn more about what you have to say, with perhaps one or two of those going on to make a purchase.

For many small business owners, conversion rates like that simply aren’t enough, so you’ll want to take steps to expand your reach, which typically involves means employing tactics that give you access to someone else’s audience.

Paying for advertising is the most obvious way to do that, and the good news for soloists is that if you choose to advertise on social media, you can do so in a very targeted way for a very tiny budget.

Other strategies include seeking PR exposure in the media, conducting a joint venture with another business, or looking for opportunities to speak to or write for an organisation whose target market mirrors your own – all of which may cost you nothing at all.

For example, these blogs I contribute to Flying Solo each month reach a much larger audience than those I write for my own website and e-newsletters, helping to expand my reach and increase my profile in my industry, while also driving a steady stream of new subscribers my way. You’ve got to be happy with that!

Where could you put your marketing material to have it connect with members of your target market in larger numbers than you currently have access to?

3. Keep hammering home the same messages – over and over again

The reason that we hear that annoying ‘Down, down, the prices are down’ song so blooming often is that the marketers behind it want to drill the message into our brains so thoroughly that we never, ever forget it!

They’re doing that because they know that both the consistency of your message and the frequency with which people are exposed to it enable your audience to remember who you are and what you stand for – and that most people need to be exposed to a message several times before they act on it.

Don’t worry – I’m not encouraging you to be as annoying as the Coles jingle! But I do want you to think about how you can consistently convey your core marketing messages to your target market, over and over again.

For example, if you currently create a social media post to promote each of your blog articles, try creating three or four different messages instead – each from a different angle. Then publish them over a period of several weeks or even longer to expand their reach and connect with people from a variety of different viewpoints. (For bonus points, once you have a sense of which of those messages resonates most strongly with your audience, set up a low-budget social media advertising campaign and get it in front of even more people!)

Which marketing strategies have you found most effective at expanding the marketing reach of your messages? Please share your experiences so we can all learn from them!