“You got to spend money to make money” is arguably the oldest marketing adage in existence. Yet, despite being the epitome of marketing clichés, it is nonetheless a major factor in a business’ success.
However, marketing and advertising are one of those expenses which can almost feel like a dreaded obligation – right up there with tax season. Because business owners perceive marketing and advertising spending as an unavoidable budget item, the tendency to throw money into various medias without much thought can be an all too easy pitfall.
This is why marketers need to take a step back, analyze their business needs, and develop a marketing plan which conforms to a grander vision and purpose.
What is your customer demographic?
A few years ago, I was meeting with a potential client. The first inquiry I made to her was in regards to her ideal customer. Her response was a gleefully generic, “well, anyone can be my customer!”
Mind you, she ran a high-end female boutique.
Ambitious optimism isn’t necessarily a bad attitude to harbor, but such a mindset easily lends itself to an all-too-common naivety amongst business owners. The reality this boutique owner had to acknowledge was that, no, not everyone was her potential customer.
While we worked through a thought experiment, we began to narrow down her audience demographic. We not only considered average household income (again, her products were quite pricey) and female shoppers, but we drilled even deeper by factoring in personal fashion preferences. Despite an audience segment seeming to fit the profile as a potential customer, chances are only a small percentage of that general demographic pool is likely to respond or engage with her brand.
Whittling down an audience profile can prevent marketing dollars from going to waste on delivering to consumers who have little to no interest in what you have to offer.
When was the last time you conducted market research in your area?
Another insight which came out of that initial meeting with the boutique owner was that she had competition around nearly every corner – her market area had an unusually high number of boutiques. She indicated her decision to open her boutique was two-fold: she personally liked the particular brands she wanted to sell, and none of her competitors offered them. She had a handful of friends who were also fans of those clothing brands.
Beyond herself and her friends, she admitted she had no idea if there was even a market demand in her area for that brand. Before opening, she never even considered conducting market research to determine if her business plans were feasible, what obstacles would she need to overcome, how quick or slow could she expect to expand. Three years in business and she was just now confronting these crucial questions.
Conducting market research is an essential component of running a business. Ideally this is one of the first steps in starting a business, in the research phase. Even for well-established brands, conducting periodic market research helps marketers keep a pulse on consumer trends and behaviors, factor in newer competitors and technologies, and changes in the economic environment.
What are your goals and plans?
I made it clear throughout our meeting that I wasn’t there to sell a marketing product, I wanted to provide her with the tools and strategies to help her meet her business goals. She was not expecting this and caused her to think, what exactly were her goals?
Naturally, people go into business to generate revenue and earn a profit. Year over year, business owners want to see those revenues and profits grow. Without any insights gained from market research efforts, it can be difficult to establish what those other goals ought to be.
One thing this boutique owner did not consider was expanding her shop online. Sure, her website listed the brands and merchandise available in her boutique, as did most of her competitors. But neither she nor any of the other local boutiques had any e-commerce strategies in place.
Similarly, market research can guide in determining which areas brick-and-mortar locations would thrive best. This opened our conversation to the prospect of launching auxiliary locations elsewhere. The idea had been lingering in the back of her mind to possibly open a new store in the next town at some point.
Too often, businesses – small and large – spend their marketing dollars frivolously, and this waste almost always derives from not having established business goals. Marketing with purpose, actively promoting a brand vision, can guide you in setting your business’ short- and long-term objectives.
Building Brands Marketing & Consulting is a full-service marketing consulting firm located in Victoria, TX serving businesses from Victoria to Katy, and the entire Gulf Coast region in between. Our process is designed to empower your brand and outfit your business with the marketing tools needed for you to succeed. We work with you to understand your business objectives and we offer strategies that will achieve your marketing objectives. Talk to us today about how we can support your growth, limit your turnover, and put you on a solid track toward success and profit.
Adam Mahan is a guest columnist for Building Brands Marketing & Consulting, and has over ten years of experience in telecommunication and digital tech sales and marketing.