Being prolific in your marketing and sales activities is not the same as generating your hoped-for level of sales. In fact, it is possible to spend a great deal of money whistling in the wind.
How can you be more confident that you are reaching your target audience and getting the results you want? In other words, getting your business messages to the right people, at the right time, to secure a healthy lead conversion rate.
Who are you talking to?
It starts with the simple question: who is your target audience? It sounds like common sense but it’s amazing how many organisations have a woolly customer profile. If you are talking to anyone who might buy, how can you drill down enough on their motivation and buying patterns?
Build a detailed picture of your potential customers and anyone else you need to talk to. Look at each demographic, and where they get their information. What is most likely to influence their decision making, and what do they want to hear?
‘What is most likely to influence their decision making, and what do they want to hear?’
Don’t just think of your target audiences in terms of just new leads. Your existing customers could well be your most fertile hunting ground. It costs a great deal more to attract new business than it does to secure increased sales from your existing client base. Analyse your current business contacts and consider ways to get them to buy more – or more often.
What do you want to say?
Getting the attention of the target audience means marrying what they want to hear, with what you want to say; in other words, your brand identity.
Did your mind immediately jump to your logo when brand was mentioned? Yes, the visual emblem you use is important, but there is more to it than that. Your brand is a full picture of what you are selling in terms of its position, benefits and unique selling propositions. Where do you stand in your market? What do you want your target audience to say about you?
From this clearer perception of what you are selling, comes your brand identity. This is the “packaging” for what you are selling – your logo, colour scheme, preferred wording and the images used to promote your product or service. You can also draw up searchable keywords to use, for your search engine optimisation (SEO) too.
What’s in it for me?
From your brand identity review, you need to then answer the universal question – what’s in it for me? The answer to this could well vary across your different target audiences.
Your marketing and sales are not just selling products or services, but also the benefits they bring. For example, which is more appealing: buy these beans in tomato sauce; or enjoy plump haricot beans in a rich tomato sauce?
You need to make sure all your marketing and sales activities answer the question quickly and succinctly, particularly online where attention span is drastically shortening. If the first page of your website is a confusing mass of product shots or densely-packed text, can your target audiences see your product benefits effectively?
If not, the chance is that your lead conversion rate online fails at the first hurdle.
Compelling call to action
With your product or service benefits upfront and unmissable, next you need to give your target audience clear incentives and instructions to move forwards. Your website, leaflet or other marketing tools need to turn interest into action.
What are you hoping to achieve from your target audience? Do you want them to buy from you, subscribe, make an appointment for a consultation, download your software or come to your premises?
Give them good reasons to do that. Make sure your call to action includes clear instructions too. If your target audience needs to dig around to find your phone number, email address or physical location, then a worryingly large number of them simply won’t bother.
Make sure your website functions well enough to keep your target audiences engaged right to the point of positive action too. Measure website performance regularly, to make sure you are reaching your target audience and holding their attention throughout their user experience.
Methods to reach your target audience
Much of the above relies on you generating enough leads in the first place – getting initial interest from your target audiences. Knowing them better and having a better understanding of how to engage them is a great foundation, as it gives pointers on where to look for your ideal customers or business contacts. Do your target audiences tend to connect online or offline? There’s a good chance the answer to that is both!
It’s also highly likely that your target audiences are most motivated by demonstrations of competence and warmth (the twin pillars of business relationships). These are attributes that are often most effectively promoted through a personal connection. It is sometimes referred to as conversational or relationship marketing.
This could include, for example, attending networking meetings and chatting to people at trade shows and events. Or by making one-to-one calls to your hottest leads, and personally exploring what they want and how you can meet their needs. Clearly, getting in to see important members of your target audience – or getting them to visit – is the Holy Grail of lead conversion!
Any form of direct or indirect contact with your target audience should be supported with good quality literature. Even in the digital age, having something physical, like a brochure or leaflet, can help you to attract, inform, educate and persuade your target audience.
Trade periodicals and trade body newsletters are still an important source of information on potential customers, suppliers and partners. Many of these now have both online and physical versions.
‘Trade periodicals and trade body newsletters are still an important source of information on potential customers, suppliers and partners’
From your market segmentation work, you should have a good grasp of how influential your trade press is. Plan to submit press releases, articles and online blogs regularly, to raise your profile. This could be general comment and helpful information rather than sales-orientated content, to show how authoritative and customer-focused you are.
The digital age
Clearly though, the most powerful method of reaching large numbers within your target audiences is to unleash the potential of your digital presence.
This includes regular, well-planned email campaigns and using SMS to good effect. Both can be a successful lead conversion tool once you achieve initial interest from your target audience.
If you are still dismissing social media as irrelevant for your business, it’s recommended that you rethink that stance and quickly; you are getting left behind! It is increasingly influential. It’s not just for entertainment, but also for posting, sharing and commenting on information, opinions and recommendations. A social media strategy is now a central element of all marketing and sales plans. Link this effectively to your website and your online traffic and SEO get a boost too.
In its 2018 survey into internet use, the UK Office for National Statistics reported that 90% of adults had recently used it. In the age group of 16 to 34 years, this statistic was 99%.
Your target audience is probably online now. Optimising your website and keeping your content fresh and dynamic are vital. So is digital media work, as outlined above. Add in video blogs and interesting content that adds value to your product or service.
This is sometimes referred to as content marketing – keeping the quality of your online material high and regularly updated.
When your generic digital marketing proves insufficient, there are ample paid-for channels to reach your target audience. This includes Google Adwords and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns, as well as ads, banners and boosted posts on social media.
Use with caution though, and make sure they are carefully planned around your target audience profile. Site traffic with no genuine interest in what you sell is a waste of marketing spend!
Measure and improve
All the above rely on you constantly monitoring and measuring your marketing and sales performance. This is relatively easy online, thanks to digital analytics and social media reach figures.
Be clear in your measurement strategies, including your expectations. For example, how many leads do you expect from each action, and over what timescale? This can be important as some target audience engagement will take months, rather than days to achieve the desired result.
If you want to measure results from offline marketing, consider putting an offer or incentive in your literature. Gauging the number of calls, visits or emails this stimulates can then be easier.
Making sure you constantly measure your engagement with your target audience can also help you to make swift changes and improvements, grab opportunities and assign budget in the most focused way possible.
Simon Joyce is the director of Anchor Vans.