Marketing is about offering the right product, to the right people, at the right price, at the right time, and ensuring they understand the benefits of buying from you. Here is what’s involved.
Find out about prospective customers
Get your sleuth’s hat on and find out everything you can about your target market. Go into as much detail as you can.
If you sell to consumers, what socio-demographic information can you find out? For example, age, gender, income level, type of dwelling, marital status, family situation, race, occupation, employment status, the car they drive, the sports they partake in, the pets they own, the paper they read, and so on.
If you are selling to businesses, useful information could also include: location and contact details, business type, turnover, number of customers, their target market, their financial year-end, and when they set budgets. Don’t forget to find out the secretary’s name, the decision-maker’s name and who holds the purse strings.
Also find out how often they buy and how much they spend on similar products. What else are they spending their money on if it is not similar products? For example, if you sell roof insulation, competitive products include extra blankets, electricity, de-humidifiers and double-glazing.
Understand their needs
What do they actually want? This may not be obvious.
For example, selling a service to a business may save them money. However, it may also cut down management time on a task, and this could be perceived as far more important than any financial savings.
Or if you are selling to young teenage girls, they may not want ‘lipstick’ as such. They want to appear sexy to boys, and lipstick is a means to this end.
Knowing these kinds of thing will help you create the right sales message.
Understand their perceptions of you
If you are new in business, they will have no perceptions of you, unless they know you personally. So how can you reassure them that you are safe to deal with? Assurances include money-back guarantees and warranties. Other useful assurances include relevant expertise, client lists, and testimonials from clients.
But also consider their perceptions of your industry as a whole. For example, if you are in the used-car business, the public’s perception may not be as enthusiastic as you would like. How will you overcome this?
Develop your strategy
How are you going to tell prospective customers about your existence? Suitable media could include PR stories, advertising, direct mail, websites, word of mouth, networking meetings, and staging seminars, demonstrations or fashion shows.
As for the message, your research will help you create this in the language your target market would use. Even if they are experts, however, never use jargon. For example, if you specialise in the disposal of industrial waste, you might write ‘we get rid of it safely and legally’, rather than the more boring but correct ‘we comply with all ISO xyz safety regulations’. If they ask for more details, then you can talk about the ISO xyz regulations.
You will also need to position yourself in the market. Are you grunge, cheap-and-cheerful, chic, haute couture, new wave, retro, olde worlde, or ultra modern?
Knowing where in the market you wish to position yourself will help you shape the impact you want to make. How will you make customers feel comfortable with you and your products? Ask yourself what will make them think: ‘Ah! I’ve come to the right place’. Things to consider include the look – both exterior and interior – of your premises, how your staff dress, how they greet people in person or on the phone, and your sales literature – from the appearance of your stationery to the look of any advertising.
Generating sales leads
Finding prospective clients is a seven-step operation:
- identify the target market
- decide how much you can afford to spend on promotion
- choose the medium (from PR to ads on taxi cabs or television, from websites to holding talks)
- create and place the message
- track the leads so you can assess whether that exercise is worth repeating
- converting leads to sales
- when you have your lead, what will you do with it? You need to work out the steps you will take to land that customer
Whether you are selling dresses or environmental consultancy, the process is the same. You need to find out:
- their detailed requirements so you can match your benefits to their needs
- any constraints, such as budgets, colour and timescales
Work out a set of questions, which you can adapt as required, to lead you through this process. This will help you get the information you need so you don’t have to go back later and ask for something you’ve forgotten, which looks amateurish.
You may also need to prepare a presentation. This could be formal, in the case of a consultant to a company board meeting, or informal, in the case of a shop assistant selecting the right combination of dresses and accessories to show a prospective client. Either way, the more you prepare and the more you practise, the better you will become.