I’ve found that most businesses are guessing who their customer really are. Many owner operators are working with outdated information gathered when they first created a business plan for their company. Others have never done the research, instead simply work with personalized assumptions. And some, particularly brick and mortar businesses, don’t understand the value in identifying their customers from a data driven Lifestyle perspective.

But here’s the thing: you don’t need to guess. You can know who your customers are, and gain a competitive advantage by focusing your marketing and product offerings to serve their needs. Just think higher sales, less inventory, and happy repeat customers.

To determine your target market, here are a few things you should know about your customers:

  • Who were my best customers in last year?
  • Where can I find more potential customers like them?
  • Who else is looking for my products or services?
  • Where can I find these qualified leads?
  • How are they looking for my products and services?
  • How do they make decisions regarding my products and services?
  • How far are people willing to travel to find my business?

Startegies for Local Retail Marketing Online

Real Time Data, Real Time Results

Working with data from just a few years or months ago or from a market research company is only good as a place to start.  Actually, it is an essential place to start from in building assumptions about customers and their needs. With the internet, even data that recent can become  outdated if you are trying to track trends, and planning services or inventory six months ahead. Instead, your business can be working with data from weeks, days, minutes ago – real-time information that ensures that you know how your customer base is changing: who they are, where they are, and what they want. Measuring internet marketing efforts against defined profiles of historical customers enables a business to react to demand shifts quickly.

At the core, this is why internet marketing is so valuable and so effective. You’re armed with information, allowing you to get a higher ROI from your efforts on all fronts.

Unlike most other forms of advertising, the internet allows you to directly target those who are the most likely to become customers. Your message won’t just go to leads; you can direct it at qualified leads, increasing the chances of conversions.

Additionally, you can better gauge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. It’s directly measurable. This allows you to continually make improvements, further increasing the odds for conversions and, thus, your business growth.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What you learn from the process – through developing a marketing plan, running your internet campaign, and evaluating the results – can be applied to every aspect of your business. Once you have an understanding of who your customers are, and a  measurable system of how they are interacting with your business you can better determine how to target them. The lessons you learn can be used to improve in-store promotions, product layout, inventory, customer service, direct mailings, and more.

You can stop treading water and start growing. You can stay ahead instead of playing catch up. You can put the customer at the center of everything you do.

Internet Marketing Produces Results

The insight that companies gain through effective internet marketing – with strategies that are growth-oriented and take into account overall business objectives – is invaluable. Companies that don’t even sell anything online have seen growth of 50% or even 100% in their brick and mortar sales by putting internet data to use.

Yet many companies’ idea of a internet marketing is to create a website, add a Facebook page, and think the job is done. They don’t realize either the complexity of building a marketing system that gives them feedback, or of its potential as a tool to grow their business.

In my next post, I’ll explain the value of building a customer profile.