I’m no game hunter. I don’t advocate either for or against hunts. However, we can learn a lot from big game hunters. First, a game hunter knows his (I use this pronoun in the gender-neutral sense) target. He understands it’s haunts and it’s habits. He also knows how to track his prey so he can get close enough for the kill.
Business owners need the same skills. In order to survive, you need to know your target market, the “game.” This means knowing where they hang out, their spending habits, and what they do for recreation. You need to get inside their head. Then you also need a way to “track” them, or more specifically, your efforts in reaching them. With this in mind, you can close in and bring the “hunt” to a successful conclusion. Of course, you’re not looking for a kill, but a sale.
How can we apply these lessons to business? What habits do we need to understand and how can we track our efforts in connection with our target market? Buckle up your seatbelts, boys and girls, as we take off on a business marketing safari!
Know Your Prey
Not every customer is your target. When hunters go out into the field, they may come across other game and bring it home. However, they never lose sight of their target. When you think of “big game,” five distinct species (the Big Game Five) fall under that heading. Yet when hunters head into the field, most have one particular species in mind. Similarly, there are distinct demographics we can target, and they all have differences. As a business owner, you won’t turn away business from those who fall into a different demographic, but you don’t want to lose sight of your target. Once again, not every customer is your target market. You need to focus on the “species” (so to speak) that gives you the greatest return for your efforts.
How do hunters prepare for the hunt? They study their prey. Are they herd or solitary creatures? Do the prefer vegetation or other animals? Are they diurnal or nocturnal animals? What are their habits (feeding, bathing, sleeping)? Knowing these factors are the difference between success and failure on the hunt. It helps a hunter decide what bait to use, what traps to set, and where to place them. In business, you need to know your target audience just as intimately. What things do they like? What are their biggest fears and concerns? What are their support services spending habits? And yes, how do they relax and unwind? These factors can help you better determine the best way to spend your advertising and marketing dollars. For example, are you in a rural or urban setting? That affects the issues facing your target market. It also determines things like mode of transportation. Here in NYC for example, you’re as likely to find employees and business owners using our public transportation system as opposed to driving personal vehicles during the work week. So you may decide to spend a portion of your advertising dollars on subway or bus ads along with billboards as part of your marketing strategy. Additionally, you can focus your efforts even more specifically by narrowing down which subway and bus lines are most frequently used by your target audience. If you use billboards, decide which roadways are most used by your target to ensure you strategically place your ads. When looking to social media, decide where your target audience spends most time online. Are they more likely found on Facebook or LinkedIn? Are they heavier Instagram or YouTube users? Knowing these things will help you get the most bang for your buck and increase your Return On Investment (ROI).
Are They Passing Your Watering Hole?
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) posted an article on how a small business can track ROI. In it, they interviewed Dan Kraus, President of Leading Results Inc., who offered the following five simple suggestions:
- Ask all of your customers how they heard about you. That’s simple, and easy to implement. It’s a matter of getting into the habit of asking everybody who walks through the door or calls how your company got on their radar. Asking the question in a natural way may help break the ice, and definitely leads to a wealth of information to aid in your marketing efforts. In addition to “How did you hear about us?”, you can try asking:
- “What do you know about our company?”
- “Did someone recommend us to you?”
- “Did you see one of our ads?”
- Track and manage contacts. Whether you meet them in person, connect through social media, or have them referred by a third-party, you need a way to organize information about your contacts. CRM programs can help. Not only is your client information in one place, but many also help you organize your marketing campaigns, whether by postal mail, email, or via telephone. Kraus recommends a web-based program from zoho.com; we offer an integrated CRM and sales document module through GoSmallBiz.com
- Code marketing materials and emails. A simple but effective method to get an idea about which marketing method is performing effectively. This is especially important when you have multiple strategies operating concurrently. If you experience a sudden surge in sales, is it due to your email or direct mail campaign? Codes help you find out.
- Hand out coupons. I’ll admit, this is one I haven’t employed much. Yet most social media marketers employ this strategy in one form or another. When you attend an online seminar, especially if it’s a joint venture event, you’ll often receive a discount on subscription to a program related to the topic of the webinar. This, essentially, is the online version of a coupon. It works great offline as well. Additionally, if you have printed coupons, you can give them to other business owners who then pass them out to their customers as a reward or an incentive. Coupons are great ways to generate and track referrals, especially when combined with the marketing codes discussed above.
- Track phone calls. Using a unique phone extension for each marketing promotion allows you to track how customers find you. Kraus recommends Phone.com, which gives you a local or toll-free number and an unlimited number of extensions. When a person calls the extension, they get routed to your main phone line. However, the system logs the call as coming to the extension, thus allowing you to track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Phone.com is a brand partner with GoSmallBiz, and has helped many of our customers manage their present phone needs and minimize costs as their organizations grew.
Kraus’ suggestions show us how to track our efforts to see how well people respond to a particular strategy. Still, we need a way of determining if we’ve actually made a decent return on our marketing dollars. How do you calculate that? Try this formula found on CalculateROI.com:
You can read more about how to apply this formula to your marketing efforts here. The bottom line is employing the methods and applying the formula mentioned above allow you a snapshot of how well your efforts work for you, just like a big game hunter uses technology to gather information. Now you know if your target market is hanging out around your watering hole.
Bring Home the Prize
After a trip into the wild, a hunter comes home with his trophy. He also has some new stories to tell his fellow hunters when they kick back and relax around a fire or slam down a few cold ones at the local cantina. When you go “hunting” for new customers, you bring home a prize as well. It’s in the form of new prospects, increased sales, and relationships started or strengthened. By doing your due diligence and employing the relatively simple methods outlined above, you’ll have more success. So the next time you gather around the campfire with your fellow hunters or gather at your favorite watering hole, you’ll have a few new juicy stories to tell.
Do you track the results of your marketing efforts? What works well, and what can you change in order to increase your ROI? Tell us in the Comments below!
- How to Improve Your Social Media Marketing ROI (socialmediaexaminer.com)
- What social network is right for your business? Taming the big five (hiscox.co.uk)
- Create Your Small Business Marketing Plan (hiscoxusa.com)
- Advertising Basics for the Small Business Owner (bet.com)
- Roundtable Recap – Identifying Your Target Market (alexandriasmallbusiness.com)
- Netiquette: First off, establish target market (lfpress.com)