Learn Your Audience

How To Promote Your Local Business, Part 1

We are living in a digital age. Using your website and online resources to promote your local business is not only recommended, it is essential. Whether on a computer at home, or from a mobile on the go, customers are using the internet to find products and services. It's not only limited to online businesses, either - according to a 2015 study, over 75% of customers use the internet to find local businesses before visiting their premises.

"Einstein looking at a blackboard." Don't be too general - to market effectively you must know your audience relatively well.

To help introduce you to the world of online marketing, and show you how to get the most out of having a website, I am going to walk you through the most important aspects. As with most things in your business, it all begins with the customer. Without knowing who your customer is and how they behave online, it is difficult to create an effective plan to promote your business. Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself about your audience:

Who Are Your Customers?

Knowing who your customers are is very important for your business. By knowing who you are marketing to and defining them concretely, you will be able to better understand your clients (and potential clients) and know how and where to reach them and get your message across in the most effective way possible. If you are interested in carrying out an SEO Campaign with me, then this will be one of the first steps that I will talk through with you.

A helpful way to define your customers is to create one or more buyer personas. These are specific groups of people that will buy your products or use your services. For example, a camera store may have these buyer personas: practical buyers, enthusiasts, university students, and professionals.

As you can easily see, different buyer personas are looking for different products, have different budgets, and need to be marketed to in different ways. Some questions you may want to ask yourself about your customers and buyer personas are:

  • What age range are your customers in?
  • Are your products or services designed for men, women, or both?
  • What might their annual income be?
  • What level of education did they complete?
  • Why are they buying your product?
  • What do they consider when purchasing a product (price, features, resell value, etc.)?

The more specific you can be about who your customers are, the easier it will be to create specific strategies to reach them in the best way possible.

Where Are They Online?

Once you are confident who your customers are, the next thing you have to know is where they are online. The internet is a very big place and with all of the different social media platforms, forums and websites, determining how your visitors act and behave online ties directly into your buyer personas.

Different people use the internet in different ways, so it’s important to do research that gets into your clients' mindset. For example, college students may be using new social media platforms. Other buyers may be consuming content through blogging and articles, while a different buyer group may be active on social sites such as Reddit and others are active on Twitter. If you have a buyer group that is business oriented or you operate in B2B markets, LinkedIn may be where your customers are most active.

A common mistake that small and local businesses make, is to try and target and be active on all the major social networks. This is fine if you have the time and budget to truly be active on all of these sites, but the likelihood is that you don't. In this case, it is much better to be consistently active on the sites and networks that your potential customers are more likely to use, rather than sporadically update every site in an attempt to be everywhere.

For local businesses it is also important to remember there may be specific local sites - which you won't find covered by much of the general advice you find online. For example, here in Stafford there is Stafford Forum - a place where I've found clients in the past. There are also local business groups on Facebook that allow you to advertise, and many local newspapers have websites and forums. Remember though - make sure you follow the rules of any forums or groups you join, and try to genuinely contribute rather than spamming the group with your sales material. If you're not careful you may (rightfully) find yourself banned from the group, and could earn yourself a bad reputation.

By taking the time to figure out where your customers are online not only do you have a list of specific areas to advertise and promote your content, you can engage with your target audience, learn more about how they behave, and again focus your marketing for the best results possible.

What Are They Looking For?

In addition to determining who your buyers are, you have to define what they are looking for. Because different people are searching for different types of products, you need to make sure that you are sending the right message to the right group of people. Going back to the camera store example, someone just starting out as a beginner may not be looking for the same quality as a professional.

Separating your buyer personas and defining what they are looking for will help you target your message. For example:

  • Practical Buyers – These buyers are the type that may just be looking for a cheap product that gets the job done. No frills, no extra lenses, just a simple point and shoot camera that provides high value for a low cost.
  • Enthusiasts – These may be people whose main hobby is photography that are looking for high quality components but not necessarily the best available on the market.
  • University Students - This would be a younger age group that are interested in art classes, etc., that may need professional equipment, such as a variety of basic lenses and lighting equipment, but are on a strict budget.
  • Professionals – Another buyer persona may be professional photographers who need the best products possible and are looking for the best brands and highest quality possible to stand out from their competitors.

    This makes a huge difference to how you're going to market your business and your products. It's rarely a good idea to make a page or advert that tries to appeal to every type of buyer - as you can end up being off putting to all of them. It's much better to have specific landing pages or advertisements for each type of buyer, so that you can speak to them and their needs more directly.

Focus On Customer Needs

Once you have determined who your audience is, what they’re looking for, and how you can find them you will have the information you need to effectively create a targeted marketing campaign. It’s very important to realise, though, that when you are marketing online that you are not focusing on you—instead, you want to focus on your customers.

"Different user groups with individual websites" Once you know about your audience, you can create a website that suits their particular needs.

When starting a website, a lot of people are tempted to start with an "About Us" page, launching into huge detail about their professional history, business ethos, and names of their grandchildren. This information is often very personal and important to you, and the story of your business - but for a new potential client who has just arrived at your site, it is often far too much depth and doesn't address their needs.

Creating high quality content that solves problems for your customers is going to pull them into your website and convert them into customers. Finding your audience and constantly trying to make a hard sell can be off-putting and do the opposite of what you want to achieve. Look for problems to solve and provide quality information, not just what you can do.

Moz.com also has a great article with some more tips about defining your target audience and their needs, if you want some further reading.

If you need help defining your market, understanding who your customers are, or how to tailor your content to focus on their needs, get in touch with us today.

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