7 Steps to Sowing the Seeds of Successful Marketing
by Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger
- Created: May 26, 2011, 10:16 am
Spring is here in full force. It’s one of my favorite seasons, because it symbolizes change and growth. One of the best ways to keep your small business growing is to make sure you keep up with any changes in your target market. So in harmony with the season, why not sow the seeds for new business growth by doing some market research to make sure you're still in tune with your target customers?Even if you did some research when you started your business, now’s the time for a refresher. Here are 7 key steps to help:
- Research how your target customers have changed since your business began.If they’re consumers, consider factors such as their age, income, discretionary spending power, marital status, sex and location. If they’re businesses, consider factors such as their sales, number of employees, industry and location.
- Find out who is buying your product or service.Assess the customers who buy from you and you may be surprised at how the demographics of your target customer base have slowly changed over time. Maybe a product that used to sell to moms is now a hit with teens, or something that big businesses used to buy is now selling well to small companies.
- Assess how customers prefer to buy.Are your in-house salespeople seeing slumping sales because customers would rather buy online? Are retail accounts suffering as customers turn to the Web? It’s important for your distribution channels to keep pace with customers’ preferred purchasing methods.
- Find out who is engaging, but not buying.It’s also important to assess the customers who are coming into contact with your business, but not buying. Use website analytics to track visits to your site and how many convert to leads or buyers. Do people call, email, click or request more from you, or do they just click away without doing anything? Ask your salespeople to be honest about what kinds of prospects are, and aren’t, paying off. The answers can help you hone in on the most profitable markets, and adjust your marketing to reach them.
- Go to the source.It’s easier than ever to contact potential customers directly with online surveys, social media tools and more. Use quick surveys on Facebook or ask questions on Twitter to get feedback about your products and services and how they are meeting your market’s needs (or failing to do so).
- Get the research.There are many sources of secondary market research, including the government, trade publications and websites, industry associations and academic institutions. Census dataout this year is a treasure trove of information. The Internet has made it easier than ever to find the data you’re looking for, but if you’re struggling online, check out a research library to get one-on-one tips from a librarian.
- Get help.There are many sources of free assistance that can help you do market research and pull out the key data. Contact SCOREto get matched with a Mentor or get one-on-one counseling online 24/7. I also recommend a visit to your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), where you’ll get free advice and assistance from business experts. Visit the SBA websiteto learn more about SBDCs and find one near you.
Once you’ve done your market research, you’ll be able to tailor your marketing methods to match the needs of your target customers. Who knows? You may even see an opportunity to capture a whole new market. That’s the kind of growth that doesn’t require a green thumb…but can bring in a whole lot of “green” to your business.
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