If you're like me, you'll remember meeting with your Yellow Pages Representative and going over your ads for the year — it was almost a requirement for those of us in marketing. The Yellow Page meeting was one of the most important marketing meetings for your small business all year. You would look at all the new options and ad placements and know that sales would come rolling in from those ads.
You probably also remember those lovely telemarketers always calling you right when you sat down for dinner. I am not going to tell you the Yellows Pages, or telemarketers are wrong, but I am going to tell you the traditional marketing tactics are broken.
Marketing Has Changed
Consumers are bombarded by hundreds and even thousands of ads every day. Information overload combined with caveat emptor (buyer beware) today's buyer to research before making purchases. Today's buyer also has the power of online reviews which can recommend you or warn people to stay clear of doing business with you. Loading your website, social media and email with professional content has become more important now more than ever.
Think about the last time you made a major buying decision. Did you go directly to the source and make a purchase without any information? Of course not, you either already knew about the company or did your homework.
The bigger the purchase, the more digital research went into it. You certainly wouldn't buy the first heavy equipment machinery, new small business software or any other major purchase for your business without researching it. It's time to stop interrupting your customer and start serving them in the manner they want to be reached.
Modern marketing is a style of marketing that encourages the buyer to make an informed decision. We call it inbound marketing, and it starts with determining your ideal customer and then walking that customer down a strategically planned buyers journey.
Your Ideal Customer
We understand that picking just one target customer for your small business sounds limiting. We don't want you to turn away business, but when you are spending your time and money to market your business, you need to get clear on who you need to reach.
In most cases, we find customers have more than one ideal customer. We always start in this phase with clients because we need to know their buyer inside and out to reach them. While SparkReaction has several other blogs you might check out, but first, here are a few quick things to think about to figure out your buyer.
- Look at your current customer list and pick out the ones that are good customers. You know, the ones that always make you smile when you interact them. Maybe for your business, it's It possible that the best customer never contacts you depending on your type of business. There is no right or wrong here it all about defining them.
- Ask your current customers to answer a few questions like how many employees do you have or what is your annual revenue. Perhaps, you might ask what their official job title is, or role is within their organization. You want to identify sales objections for your small business. So, you could ask a current customer what their biggest challenge is in their business.
- Think about your customer's demographics as to their age, location, and income. All of this information will help you determine where they are and where you need to be online.
Once you have identified your ideal customer, it's time to start the buyer's journey.
The Awareness stage where the potential customer becomes aware they have a need. Let's say you are a SaaS company that helps small business owners manage their time.
Perhaps, your ideal customer goes to Google and types in "time management for small business owners." Your company has strategically created a series of blogs posts on that very topic. Once they click and read your small business blog about time management they see several offers on your page.
Perhaps, you have a demo or an ebook that would allow the potential customer to experience your product. In exchange for the information, you ask for their email. Now all of this is done right on your website. You haven't had a chance to talk to your prospect, and they can move to the consideration stage.
The Consideration stage is where the potential buyer is comparing you with several other options. Again, you want to arm the potential customer with information that they will need to make the purchase.
You could create more content by answering questions like, "how do buyers educate themselves on my product?" Or, "how do buyers perceive the pros and cons of my product?"
Up next is the decision-making stage. The decision-making stage is our favorite part of the buyer's journey because you get to see your small business marketing efforts pay off.
You still have some work to do to close the stage, but they are ready now to make a choice. Understanding what your buyers like about the product compared to alternatives is critical at this stage. You also want to address any concerns they have about it.
Outside of purchasing, do buyers need to make additional preparations, such as implementation plans or training strategies?
You can easily understand the difference between haggling over ad price with your Yellow Pages rep opposed to creating an online buying process for your ideal customer. All of us as consumers can know which route we would want to be marketed to for making purchases.
We are not recommending that you abandon all traditional marketing. We are, however, suggesting that you start to develop an inbound marketing strategy that uses traditional and modern marketing tactics to help your customer down the right path.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
- When was the last time you even talked to a telemarketer?
- Have you purchased something from a print mail piece in the last year?
- What do you find confusing or difficult about inbound marketing?
Let us know!