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The marketing landscape has shifted dramatically over the last six months. The ongoing pandemic coupled with a struggling economy has only accelerated those changes. Anytime there is a swift change in consumer behavior, marketers must adapt and pivot.
The challenge is that most of you reading this have not pivoted.
A foundation that makes up your marketing strategy both online and offline should have a simple goal: to ensure your business stands the test of time. Not too long ago, all you needed from a marketing standpoint was a website and Facebook page. If you were a contractor, you may have exhibited at a tradeshow/expo booth once or twice a year, and your calendar would get booked out. For others, referrals and word of mouth drove 100% of their business.
Those days have long passed by. Consumers and businesses alike have a vast number of options for how to spend their money and where they invest their time. This means that marketers have to work harder than ever before to reach the people they need to contact.
Your marketing strategy is the foundation; and in working with thousands of businesses, I have found that most don’t have the foundational elements.
Here are the four questions to help carve out your foundation.
1. Who are your best customers?
First, let’s focus on the who. Every business has different types of customers. The chances are high you have some customers you love, and some not so much. Some customers pay more, some less. Some are more profitable, some less. Some are easy to get in touch with, some not so much. Get immense clarity on who you love doing business with and who you would love to have as a customer.
Once you understand who your best customers are, I encourage you to build an ideal persona.
Where are they hanging out (online and off)?
Armed with that persona, the next step is to do some market research as to where they are hanging out. The chances are high that you may be a bit biased. For example, I never would have thought my prospects would be hanging out on TikTok, but they are. Your prospects’ attention continues to shift regularly. As a new platform or outlet comes along, some of their attention moves there. As they get bored with that outlet, they may also move back to one or move to another. The attention is moving constantly.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
What events do they attend?
What social media platforms are they on?
What groups or clubs are they in?
What are they reading/watching/listening to?
Where are they spending their money?
The purpose of this work is to learn more about your customer and what makes them tick.
Here are some helpful tips for building up that knowledge base of market research:
What are their pain points today?
Now that you have your best customer persona and details as to where they are hanging out online and offline, it’s time to listen and read. Read the conversations going on on social media. Stop into a meeting or two or an event and listen and observe.
Your goal is to listen for one key area: pain.
I’m not talking surface-level pain, but the bigger pain points. Let’s use a child care center as an example.
Your “who” would be parents. Your ideal parent could be of a certain income range, job type, location to your center or even educational philosophy.
Your “where” would be places like Mom or Dad groups on Facebook, local PTA meetings or even places like a gymnastic studio or trampoline park.
As you start to listen at the surface, you may think the pain points are things like:
Finding time to drop off little Johnny at school
The distance to the center
Picking the right type of center
But when you really start to dig deeper and ask a question like what is keeping the parent(s) up at night, the conversation changes.
They may be worried about having a job in six months.
They may be worrying about keeping food on the table with rising inflation and costs.
They may be lying in bed at night wondering how they can afford a higher-tier child care experience and feeling remorse.
They may be worrying about safety and security for their family.
Take a look around. The pain points your prospects are feeling are vastly different than they were a year ago. Their fears are very different. What is keeping them up at night is very different. The most obvious example is the financial state. At the time of writing, the inflation rates are the highest they have been in forty years. Everything is getting more expensive (for you and your customers). Get to know the real pain points and your profits will soar. Pain equals profits.
How do you get them to pay attention to you, your brand and your business?
The final step is to grab the attention of those best customers using all of your new knowledge.
You could think that to get people to pay attention, you need the loudest voice possible. You try to shout as loudly as you can. This rarely works, though.
The most effective marketing is always going to be the one that is targeted at the right person/business at the right time with content specifically designed for them, showing the path from pain to pleasure. In short: It is about being relevant — not being loud.
Sticking with the childcare example. If one of the pain points is around affording a world-class education for your child and your center is the solution — focus there. Put out content across the platforms your ideal parents are using. This shows them you understand where they are.
These steps are a part of a strategic exercise that I suggest you revisit every three to six months. If the economy or the landscape shifts in between those windows, you will need to execute this more frequently.