A couple of weeks ago a professional e-mailed me wondering how a young and budding new company would get new customers. This Indian-based gentleman was at a loss as to how a small, up-start company would market itself and how it would get its voice heard over the clatter of bigger competition. In that particular case, a useful suggestion was ‘guerrilla marketing.’ Creativity and novelty would have to trump inside-the-box methods.
So, how does a company go about its business and attract customers? For the purpose of this post let’s assume you are not the head of marketing for Time Warner. That is, the marketing budget is below average, limited and corresponds to the depth of experience and dedicated resources at hand.
Many would consider a variety of marketing techniques as a starting point. That would be a mistake. A much better approach would be to understand one’s product or service and the associated customer (or if not enough exist, the target market’s) psyche.
Understanding one’s customer involves understanding one’s target market. What is it? A small firm needs to be brave enough to be able micro-target. That is, be willing to accept that you will not be servicing a major portion of the society. What niche within that target market is under-served, under-developed or, due to novelty, unaddressed? Leave the prejudices behind and let the customer speak for itself. What does the market say it wants and cannot currently get. How much of it do they want, at what frequency and how much is it worth to them? Let the voice of the customer surprise you.
An existing client base will complete and augment this information. Existing clients need to be mined for information. Part of his information is already available.
- What is the existing average sales figure?
- At which price level, and how often, were customers lost?
- What did they purchase, what did they not purchase and what else was added to the sale from external sources?
- Where did your customers find you in the first place? Where did those, which were lost, end up?
- Was the money not spent with your firm banked, spent on the company Christmas party or move to your direct competitors?
The above information should be of a large enough sample to lend itself to aggregation and slicing and dicing. Three customers: bad! Three hundred responses: better!
The data derived should enable your company to limit – that’s right, I said limit – your pursuit of customers to a very tight grouping of potential customers. All the residents of Northern France are not a target market. Expatriate Brits living within 50 km of Paris, though, is somewhat better.
This kind of triangulation will allow your company’s limited resources to be spent with a narrow target in mind. This is where a small firm will find where it needs to call/advertise/be present/sponsor/showcase/call into/other in order to yield maximum output for the tight marketing resources. Additionally, this type of marketing is self-perpetuating. The Anglophone Brits living near the capital of France are more likely to know and communicate with one another and may become your inadvertent word-of-mouth marketers (for instance).