Small Business Marketing Strategy: Targeting an Audience

May 8, 2019

Imagine for a moment that you are a small business owner. You know you need to market your business, so your initial thought is ‘I need to get my name out there so people know I exist’! You throwing hard-earned dollars at Facebook Ads, putting your offers in circulars or coupon books, and pouring time and effort into your social media pages. Now all that’s left is to sit back and wait for the leads to pour in. So you wait….and wait. And wait.

When the dust settles, all you’re left with is a handful of ‘impressions’, a couple ‘clicks’ and a few low level interactions, with no new leads. Does this sound like you?

The problem is, you’re casting a tiny net in the middle of an ocean.

This isn’t to say that the tactics (Facebook ads, circulars, etc) described above aren’t effective. It’s that your Marketing Strategy doesn’t contain enough of a target audience to properly engage and interest new leads. When you market on social media, you are selling to literally millions of people, and even when you attempt to whittle those down via the targeting tools they provide (which is a good start) you’re still usually marketing to thousands of people with little effect. It’s still a sea of people.

You may already be thinking ‘I’ve seen really successful companies like Apple or Google posting social media ads and they get tons of clicks, interactions and seemingly interested leads. Why are they successful while I’m not?’

To continue on our ocean analogy: You’re fishing alone from a rowboat while they’re fishing with a 500-ton ocean vessel equipped with an entire crew.

And if you’re even thinking about competing with them, it wouldn’t be a fair fight. You might be able to catch a few fish per day, but they’re catching thousands of fish by the hour. They are able to do this because the ‘fuel’ for all businesses is cash, and for them, it’s basically limitless (hence how they can become successful).

What works for them most certainly is different than what works for you. Most small businesses have a limited budget for marketing, and so they need to make their hard-earned cash stretch further and become more effective. How do we make that happen?

Find a niche market.

Right now, you’re probably creating ads that fit no one in particular. That being the case, you can expect nobody in particular to respond, which then becomes a moving target. Let me explain.

Say you’re a construction company. You decide that you want to run an advertisement to get more exposure and create new leads. You decide to run a Facebook ad. You provide a long list of services: renovation, new home construction, additions, outbuildings, decks, and so on. You list all of these into your advertisement because you want to ‘cast the widest net possible.’ This should work, right?

This advertisement has a lot of information and speaks to nobody in particular.

While it is possible to get leads here and there using this method, it’s likely not going to prove very effective overall. When prospects see advertisements, they are hoping to find something that speaks to them. In our above example, nothing in particular speaks to those prospects because there is so much other information that they do not need. It’s not properly targeted to them and their specific needs, so chances are they will not pursue something that provides vague or unclear value to them. Again, we want to catch as many prospects with as little investment as possible.

Using the example of the construction company, we might decide that the niche market we want to pursue is ‘residential deck building projects’ instead of casting a wider net for all potential building projects. By doing so, we can hone in to the needs of this particular audience and provide clear and direct messaging that speaks to the value they will be receiving by having a deck built. The tactics we employ (the advertisements or promotional materials) can be more relevant this way.

This advertisement speaks to the audience’s motivations, has eye-catching and compelling text, has a clear call-to-action (call Derek) and still considers the trust factor with the badges on the lower right.

Instead of casting a tiny net into an ocean looking for any fish that show up, you’re now casting a small net into a pond that’s full of Largemouth Bass (your new target), which is exactly what you wanted to fish for in the first place.

To take this one step further, we could even do some research as to when and where this advertisement makes sense. Does it make sense to display this advertisement on social media? Google Ads? When are people looking and where are they looking? My guess would be that most homeowners would be interested in building their decks while the weather is amenable to doing so or just prior, so Spring or early Summer. That way it could be enjoyed during the peak time of nice weather (here in Michigan, that would be the summertime). I would also guess that those looking to revamp or have a deck built might be looking for inspiration on how they might want it to look, and we all know Pinterest is a great site for inspiration and project ideas. Another potential advertisement avenue might be Houzz. Taking this a step further, you could also look into home shows or outdoor living expos in your area and consider setting up a booth. This strategy would be akin to searching for Largemouth bass near downed logs or submerged trees, where they are likely to thrive, and using particular lures that they’re likely attracted to. These are just a few things to consider when crafting a marketing strategy and targeting a proper audience.

Ok, let’s address the pink elephant in the room: doesn’t marketing to just one niche limit my potential customer base?

No, not at all. Those potential customers are all still out there, thus not limiting anything! And in fact, what you’re doing is creating a deeper channel of potential customers with a particular need. When you feel you have captured that niche market, feel free to move onto the next! If you’re in construction and you feel the ‘residential deck building’ market has been properly addressed by your efforts, you might think about starting to target the niche of ‘craft beer taproom construction and planning’ market. Become an expert builder in knowing what they need in order to have the perfect brewery setup and deliver that to them. The possibilities are endless.

This all sounds great, but how do I get started?

Think about your business and who you might serve as your niche market. If you’ve been operating for a while, take a look at the sales you have thus far: who is coming to you most often, looking for a solution to their problem(s)? Who provides the most value to you, of those people? These answers will help you target a proper audience. If you are just getting started in your business, think about your expertise and where you can provide the most value to a potential audience. The more value you can provide, and the more direct you can be with your marketing strategy, the more likely you will be successful both in your business and marketing efforts.

A final word

It’s also worth mentioning that design plays a big part in this process. Your business strategy (your ‘reason for being’ and solution to an audience’s pain point) works in concert with your marketing strategy (conveying the value of said solution to pain point) and your design strategy (the experience we craft around an intended solution). We’ll be talking more about these things, so be sure to sign up below for our newsletter to learn more about them.