The first thing that I ask anybody who has retained me to assist them with their Online Marketing is, "Who is your Customer?"
Typically, I get a momentary blank stare, as if to say, "What are you talking about? Anybody with money to spend is my customer!"
But it's not that simple. Especially with the Internet on board as the new super advertising medium. You need to carefully choose your customer(s) and then even more carefully study their spending and lifestyle choices.
Why? Because that will define where they "hang out" on the Internet. That in turn, defines your Online Marketing strategy. The Internet is too big anymore to just cast a broad line out and hope that somehow people who are looking for what you offer will find you. Some companies do manage this strategy with success: Capital One credit cards, Microsoft, etc. But remember, they have the budget to match that strategy. You don't.
For example, in real estate, the answer to this question translates to several possibilities. We need to ask, "Do our potential new clients (PNC) need to live within the geographical area that we service?" If yes, then we implement a localized online/traditional marketing strategy. If like me, the REALTOR specializes in relocations into Utah from other places, then the online strategy must reach those people who are not so local.
But wouldn't that be expensive? After all people who live everywhere in the world might want to relocate to your state. Of course it is, therefore the need to narrow who your potential client is down even more. Are you interested in Military relocations? Recreational relocations? University relocations? Corporate relocations? Decide and then narrow your focus and target your online marketing accordingly.
It's okay to pick more than one focus, but you must design different strategies for different consumer groups. On the Internet, the more targeted you are, the better ROI on your marketing dollar (or, if you are strictly organic, the better return on your time).
Suppose you were a local Dentist. Are you tempted to claim that your clients are anybody in the area who needs work on their teeth? Yes, surely that is tempting (and true). But it is much more advantageous and cost effective to put your fishing line into a small pool of carefully defined "fish" than it is to cast the line into the ocean and hope for the best.
The Dentist might define target groups as: 1) Those who are close to the office location. Other businesses who have offices within walking distance of the office. 2) Is your office on the way to a school? Target parents who might find you very convenient as they leave school with kiddies in tow. 3) Are you close to a neighborhood? Get your services into their newsletter or direct mail them with a link back to your website where you offer a "Good Neighbor" discount for them. 4) Other professionals? Hold special office hours on a Saturday morning for busy professionals who otherwise could not see a Dentist during the workweek. Do all of this from your web page and other technology which you are (will become) the master of.
If you haven't already, define your client groups and market to them accordingly as a first step. Can you tell, from these domains that I own, which group I have targeted as potential real estate clients?
1. southogdenrealtor (I live in that city and am a Planning Commissioner)
2. weberstateuniversityhomes (I attended there and just served a board position)
3. hillairforcebasehomes (I live a stone's throw from a Military base)
4. bigutahhomes (Utah is notorious for its big families)
5. realestateanswerdesk (Why would I want this domain?)
What do you think? Can you tell who I am thinking about serving here? Can you think of where I might be placing these links, both in my online and traditional marketing? And one final question, how much do you think I'm spending on all these? (Answer: nothing but my time).
If I can do it, you can do it. More next time, Free Seekers!