I studied marketing at the University of Florida and owned a marketing and branding firm for several years, so I come at this topic with quite a bit of experience and some strong opinions. Unfortunately, I think many businesses do a poor job in marketing and branding because they don’t take the time to do the necessary homework. Here are two simple ways to dramatically increase the effectiveness of your marketing and branding.
Ideal Customer Profile
If you’re going to be successful in marketing, you need to know who you’re targeting. Although you don’t want to drive away any potential customers, it is a much more effective use of your time and money if you try to market to the very best segment of customers and simply welcome any other customer segments that would like to spend money with you.
The best way to build an ideal client profile is to look at your best current customers. Who are the folks that love your products and services, are happy to pay what you charge, pay on time, are easy to work with, and have the potential to refer you to lots of other high-quality customers? Once you have a clear idea of your current great customers, learn everything you can about who they are.
If you have a B2C business, you might want to learn things like what are their income levels, their family situations, what sort of jobs do they have, what kind of cars they drive, where do they get their news and information from and what are their hobbies.
If you have a B2B business, then you want to know things like total revenues, market share, customer base, competition, market strategy and other fundamental aspects of your customers’ businesses. Anything you can learn about your very best customers will help you create a clear and specific profile of other potential customers that share the same traits.
The way I look at it, if they are already a fantastic customer and spending a lot of money with you, other people or businesses like them would probably be superb customers as well. Once you’ve got a robust profile created (and it may turn out that you have two or three target customer segments). Then look at all of your marketing materials and make sure they are tightly focused on talking directly to these important potential customers. The look, feel, style, colors, and everything about your marketing should appeal to your ideal customers so that they feel comfortable with your brand right away, which takes me to the second part of this article: how to build your brand.
Building the Brand
There are a zillion marketing experts, and almost all of them will tell you this important fact: You don’t own the brand; your customers do. In other words, it doesn’t matter what you think your brand is — it only matters what your customers think your brand is.
“The only critic whose opinion counts is the customer.”
Again, go back and take a look at your ideal customers. Look through your customer database and identify a handful of your very best customers, the ones that you would love to have more and more just like them. Then, through a survey, phone call, meeting or focus group, ask them this very important question:
Why specifically did you choose to do business with us…what are the three or four most important things that made you decide to give us your business?
After you talk to a handful, dozens, or hundreds of customers, depending on the size of your business, you will likely see a pattern start to emerge of just a few things that all of these people mention again and again about why they do business with you.
Congratulations, this is your brand. Once you understand what your very best customers think about your company, your brand, then take a handful of the things they said, and put them everywhere. Put them on the front of your website, your business cards, and all of your marketing and advertising, because if they are the key reasons your customers choose to do business with you, they are very likely the exact same reasons that would attract new customers to do business with you.
Let me end with one of the most important quotes about how to be successful in business:
“Whoever owns the voice of the customer owns the marketplace.”
You want to find out how to increase the effectiveness of your marketing and branding? Ask the people who are already enthusiastic supporters of your business. They’ll tell you exactly how to bring in more great customers.
I’m honored to be a part of The Growth Faculty this upcoming February 9th. In my masterclass, I will share a critical framework to let go of outdated ideas, embrace change, think more strategically, and lead with speed and agility.