According to Oracle, about 35% of US adults “broke up” with a brand because the marketing was not pertinent to them or was irritating in some way. Marketing can be a tough thing to figure out. It’s hard to know what your customers want and when they want it. And, the last thing you want to do is alienate customers you already have.
1: Create User Personas
One way that service businesses can know what their customers are likely to want in advertising is to create user personas. This is simply a fake person you create that represents a specific type of person that is your target audience. So, let’s say you own an HVAC business and about 50% of your clients are in a specific suburb. You know from research that your homeowners are typically 30-something professionals with houses that are around 20 years old on average and are going to soon need complete heating/cooling system replacements. So, you create Ed. He works at the local bank and owns a 20-year-old house and makes about $40K a year. Ed is married and has two children and a dog. His house is about 1800 square feet. You can create as many of these personas as you need for your marketing purposes.
2: Polls and Questionnaires
According to Edelman Group's consumer marketing study, a mere 10% of customers believe that companies they do business with will bother to ask about their needs. Designing user personas allows you to more easily decide what these customers want, but you should also do polls, send questionnaires and ask customers on a daily basis about their needs and wants.
Ronda Weems, a freelance social media manager for over a dozen clients, had this to say, “Sending out a questionnaire can help you quickly identify problem areas in your advertising. Ask customers which ads they like and which ones they hate. Run a contest and ask for them to pitch ideas for future ads. You’ll be surprised at the great, out of the box, ideas they come up with.”
3: Offer Unique Content that Shows You KNOW the Customer
Nancy A. Shenker, Found & CEO of theONswitch, talked about the importance of adding unique content. You can do this on a blog, as part of your website content, on social media, or even in a print newsletter you send out to your target audience.
Shenker said, “Knowing HOW to speak to each target group and serving up UNIQUE content that they haven't seen a million times before in LANGUAGE that speaks to them is key.”
Shenker went on to talk about the importance of having several levels of content. It should start simple at the beginning, then once the target audience becomes a lead, a second level of advertising is aimed at that person that is more on spot with the persona they most closely resemble. Of course, you’ll also have another set of advertising for past customers, such as trying to send them on through the sales funnel with a maintenance package. “You have to be in the head of your customer.”
4: Narrow Your Focus
In an article in Entrepreneur, Roy Williams shared his thoughts on the best way to reach a target audience. In order to focus your advertising efforts, you have to narrow the number of people you are advertising to.
With a service business, theoretically, your target audience can be anyone within driving distance. However, for the purposes of advertising, you obviously don't want to just send out material to everyone in the entire one hour drive from your business. That wouldn't be smart or cost effective. Instead, Williams advises narrowing your focus geographically by focusing on one small section of the city at a time.
Advertising costs in the major cities are extraordinarily expensive, so traditional mass media–television, radio, newspaper, outdoor–is usually out of the question. You simply don't have the money,” said Williams.
Instead, with a small geographic section of the city to start, you can more easily place door hangers, or even knock on doors and introduce yourself and your services, or hire a representative to do that for you.
5: Think Outside the Box
When it comes to the advertising itself, you truly do have to think outside the box to reach your target audience. Imagine how many times a day the average person is inundated with advertising.
Upon waking, the person turns on the television to watch the news while making a morning cup of coffee. Every ten minutes or so, there is a commercial.
As she drinks her coffee, she tries to read the newspaper, but print ads take up 1/3rd or more of the space.
She pulls out her phone to see what is happening on Facebook and is faced with “sponsored” posts.
She drives to work, listing to commercials on the radio and seeing billboards all along the highway.
When she gets home, her mailbox is full of junk mail.
You get the idea. She is overwhelmed with advertising. The average person starts to tune out all those ads. So, if you can do something unique, you have a much better chance of reaching your target audience.
- Attend a local festival that your target demographic is likely to attend, such as a street fair in that neighborhood.
- Knock on doors and shake hands and hand out business cards.
- Offer a free class on how to insulate your home for winter and invite people in the area you’re trying to advertise to. Figuring out who your target audience is and advertising to them in smart ways is a great first step in gaining new business.
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