Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a lot about sales and marketing strategies. But what’s often overlooked when developing and planning a marketing program is the importance of defining your best targets. As a matter of fact, statistics show that people spend 75% of their marketing efforts targeting the wrong people. So let’s review some tips that can help you connect with your most viable candidates.
When working with clients, our first step is a thorough demographic review of the past year’s top ten accounts in order to determine their profiling characteristics. We focus on customer commonalities and trends, such as number of employees, geographic location, and annual sales revenue. We even go so far as to look at the age of the contact who’s making the buying decisions. And, we look at their job title (e.g., CEO, president, sales manager, marketing manager, etc.)
Why are job titles important? Besides describing a specific function, an organization’s job titles may also reveal what might be lacking within that particular company. So at times the obvious commonalities are really opportunities to proceed in a new direction.
Take, for instance, a recent experience we had with one of our accounts. They’re a large freight forwarder, and we were developing a plan to recruit new business because sales had been flat for a period of time. So, it was our task to identify potential new prospects and then develop a sales and marketing plan specifically designed for this new business initiative.
Our work involved doing some preliminary target research in order to purchase a mailing and e-mail list of viable prospects. In doing so, we often try to match job titles to the titles of current clients. With an eye on the profiling characteristics we had already uncovered, we then contacted some possible companies who might be in need of our client’s services. But, we were not getting much of a response.
So we re-evaluated our targeting strategy, and here’s what we uncovered: Nine of our top ten accounts had “shipping manager“ titles or functions. And even though current accounts spoke very highly of my client’s services, they also said that their pricing wasn’t particularly competitive (i.e., it was medium to high compared to other freight forwarders). And it made sense that attempts to reach an identical target might uncover similar pricing objections.
After putting “two and two” together, we reasoned that my client’s perfect prospect might now in fact be a company which shipped a good amount of freight—but did not have a shipping manager on staff. And, since they lacked this function in-house, that target might very well need someone who provided an extra level of service. And, thus, they might not be opposed to paying a rate that was not the cheapest available. Put simply, they would better appreciate the added value my client brought to their organization.
It goes without saying that an integral key in finding the right target is to match the type of products and service you provide with the type of prospect that seeks your style of product and service for their business. But what needs to be re-stated is that since market conditions are constantly in flux, the target’s demographic may very well change over time.
Naturally, once you’ve identified the most promising prospects, your marketing and promotional messages must then be targeted as well, honing in on the “hot buttons” that match the target’s particular needs and challenges. Here’s where a review of their psychographics can be helpful as well, so that ad copy can speak more directly to that prospect’s behaviors, attitudes and needs.
So when pinpointing your perfect customer, first do a preliminary review of the type of person and influencer who deals with your company and how your company delivers its product and service to them. Then narrow that group down to five to ten of your most loyal customers. Their loyalty probably extends beyond the fact that they may like you personally. They’ve remained loyal because your company provides a unique selling advantage in terms of the way you conduct your business. Then consider there may be now be opportunities to market these unique advantages to a new level of influencer. It’s why so much of targeting is more art than science.
So review. Analyze. And assess. Then target smartly.
That’s Q from the street.
Anthony Quaranta is the president of The Q Group, Hauppauge, N.Y.