Many small businesses identify their primary consumers and market specifically to them. This does have the benefit of creating very strong bonds with a core group of users. There is a distinct downside though. When small businesses decide they belong in a niche, they may perform actions that keep them there. These actions can be minor, like choosing color schemes for a flyer that only appeal to a specific audience, to major, like blindly ignoring trends in the market that competitors are cashing in on. There are some steps you can take to prevent this from happening though.
Core customer groups shift and morph over time. This is true for every industry because each generation brings a new perspective and different priorities. One of your best tools is data. This can be gathered a number of ways. By simply asking to input information so a customer won’t have to save a receipt you can identify buying trends by age, season, time of day, and much more. This is one of the easiest ways to acquire personal details. By framing the collection as a convenience for the customer they are much more willing to comply with your request. The same thing can be accomplished with loyalty cards. Though mailing lists are a great tool, it’s much easier if the customer knows they are getting a benefit then and there.
One of the great benefits to acquiring customer information is the ability to market to individuals. You can organize your information by purchase type, demographic metrics, and more. This allows you to custom create email and advertising campaigns to specific customers. Many companies provide service to units like families, individual age brackets like tweens, customers of a particular political leaning, or more. You may notice certain trends in your everyday work.
There are some tools that can allow you to delve further into your local area.
One of the best ways to put this information to use is through Google Adwords. By analyzing data you can set targeted locations for your adwords campaigns. This would for instance allow you to specifically advertise your more expensive services in higher income neighborhoods and lower income services in lower income neighborhoods. Doing so could hypothetically increase exposure to the target demographics that use your services most often.
Cross referencing this information with personal data collected from customers can yield even more opportunities for personalized marketing.
The latest sensation to sweep the world is Pokemon Go. This online game allows users to buy digital, “Lures” and place them in any location. These lures then attract more pokemon to the attached location for up to half an hour at a time. A user could place a lure anywhere, and that includes business owners. Many are placing lures during peak hours, especially those in the food industry. This is a cheap way to get added business, because even one additional sale in 30 minutes can make up for the price of a lure.
Watching trends like this and noticing marketing opportunities is important. Almost every industry can come up with a creative way to piggy back on these trends. Everyone knows the urban legends about backed up sewer systems at Superbowl Sunday’s half time. For plumbers this can be a great opportunity to piggyback off of another event by advertising a clog warranty on game day. Publicity stunts don’t have to be negative, and they aren’t meant to be long-term strategies. They’re meant to imprint into the mind of consumers and create a relationship between your business and the industry you represent.
Now that you know the basics of data gathering and market strategy it’s time to look at your own. Where do you want your business to grow? What demographic could you appeal to but haven’t marketed to yet? Are there any uses for your services or products you may not even realize exist? Investigate, be creative, and think critically. You’ve got this.