“Why isn’t my marketing plan working?”
One of the interesting things about working in marketing is that your friends often ask for advice. The scenarios range widely. Recently I’ve been asked about where to start with marketing for an agricultural contracting company in a small country town, how a tutoring business could connect with the right people through Facebook, and the steps a start-up business consultancy should take to establish an online presence.
It’s prompted some interesting conversations, because they’re working hard but not seeing the results they want. They’re really asking: “How do I connect with my target audience?”
You probably already have a good idea about who your target audience is. You’ll know just by looking who walks into your store, stops by your restaurant, or engages your services. If you have any kind of consumer analytics (for example, through Facebook or Google), then you’ll have a deep understanding of who they are, where they’re from, and their interests.
If this is a question you’ve been asking a lot lately, stay tuned, because I’m about to explain exactly how to find and connect with those people using a digital marketing strategy.
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Give your audience a persona
The first step to connecting with your target audience is to create a persona. This means a short description, like a profile, of a person that sums up the key characteristics you need to know. It may sound a little strange – how can creating a description of a fake person possibly help your business?
There are two main reasons. First, it prompts you to think critically about who exactly you’re targeting. We’re not talking broadly about people who have a passing interest, who will visit your website and then disappear into the void of the internet forever. We’re talking about people who have a genuine interest in your products or services, who are most likely to become leads. This is your sweet spot, and targeting these people will ensure you get maximum ROI on your efforts.
Second, your persona will keep you laser-focused. This means everything you do, and every piece of content you create, will have the best possible chance of capturing this person’s interest. You can tailor your messaging, and your digital appearance, to appeal directly to them. For example, farmers wanting agricultural contracting services may respond to earthy greens and yellows with great testimonials and a special offer. Mothers looking for tutoring services may respond better to blues and reds with pictures of happy children and clear results. They help you deliver the right message, to the right person, in the right way.
Making personas work for you
Digital marketing covers a lot of ground. It includes everything from optimizing your website, to creating a strong social media presence, to managing your reputation. It can feel overwhelming when you’re first starting out, because each new element takes time to learn.
Everyone needs a website, because this functions as a type of digital shopfront. It gives your business legitimacy, because people can see who you are and what you can do for them at a glance. When it comes to social media and reputation management, however, different platforms appeal to different audiences. They all have pros and cons, so rather than investing a little bit of effort into all of them, we recommend focusing your efforts on the things most likely to generate results.
That’s where audience personas come in. They can be as detailed or brief as you like. The important thing is that it captures who your target audience is and what’s motivating them to choose your business. Think about your typical customers, then check your analytics to confirm you’re on the right track, before you get writing. Here are some examples:
- Agricultural contracting: Joe, 55, is a beef producer from just outside Laramie, Wyoming. He manages a large ranch with his 30-year-old son, Jason. He’s lived in the area his entire life, and knows everyone in his tight-knit community. He’s had a good year, so he’s looking to upgrade about 20 miles of fencing, and he wants to hire someone local. His cell phone is always in his hand. He spends a huge amount of time on the phone every day, talking to suppliers and other farmers, and he listens to the radio while he’s driving to town.
- K-12 tutoring: Michelle, 37, is a nurse from Sparks, Nevada. Her 11-year-old daughter, Jessica, is struggling with math and needs tutoring to ensure she doesn’t fall behind at school. Michelle is married with two other kids. She works shifts at the local hospital, and takes on the majority of childcare and homemaking responsibilities at home, and she’s often stressed. She spends a lot of time on Facebook, particularly in local community groups and mothers’ groups, and she wants to be certain she’s making the right decision for Jessica.
- Business consulting: Jack, 49, and Kate, 42, are the operations director and operations manager at a manufacturer in Boise, Idaho. They’ve been told that they need to increase efficiency on the floor by 9% this quarter. However, they’re both extremely busy managing large teams and desperately need additional support, so they’re bringing in a consultant. It’s the first time they’ve used this kind of service, so they’ve both been asking their business networks for recommendations. They need someone professional, who can work within a corporate environment and who they can trust to get the job done within budget.
How personas increase ROI
As you can see, the personas give lots of interesting insights. In all cases, the strongest form of marketing will be word of mouth. People trust people they knew, and they’ll all want to ask for recommendations. However, it shows there is a lot you can do to connect with them:
- Joe is looking for someone local, so once you create a website, you should set up a Google My Business profile. This is a great way to help people connect with local businesses, because it will ensure you appear on Google Maps, and makes it very easy for people to contact you and see reviews of your business. His cell phone is always in his hand, which means email marketing and digital advertising (through Google Search Ads and Google Display Ads) are likely to capture his attention – especially since he’s actively searching for contracting services. Since he spends a lot of time driving, you could also invest in traditional marketing methods such as radio advertising and signage along the main roads into town.
- Michelle has a lot on her plate, so she needs to find a solution quickly. That means reviews and value statements will be key, so she can see that your business can help her get what she needs. The three best ways to get reviews are to set up a Facebook business page, a Google My Business page, and a great website with a testimonials section. We know she’s very active on Facebook, so Facebook Ads are going to be an effective way to capture her attention. They key is going to be making the value clear, so all ads should include a statement summarizing how much students have improved since they started tutoring.
- Jack and Kate are looking for B2B marketing, which makes LinkedIn the best choice. Set up a business page, actively post helpful content – such as interesting industry news and top tips, and ensure you ask all your clients to write reviews on completion of service. They’re going to go through your website with a fine-toothed comb, before they recommend your services to the executive leadership team, so make sure it’s sparkling. You’re going to need an attention-grabbing home page, an informative about page, a very clear services page, a compelling testimonials page, and a straightforward contact page.
You don’t have to become an expert in every aspect of digital marketing to start generating strong leads. All you have to do is figure out exactly who you want to connect with, tailor your messaging to appeal to their needs, and focus your efforts on the platforms that count. That’s the secret to efficient and effective digital marketing.
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