Lots of businesses are worried about new competitors – and bigger budgets – coming at them, and their fear is understandable.
Nearly every business in Canada, not to mention around the world, is turning to the Internet as a potential source of new customers. That means there is a big potential for companies to crowd each other out, regardless of their size and industry.
But, although many will obviously try to out-spend (or out-"do") one another to eat up market share, that isn't the right answer for most businesses. In fact, the best solution might be one that seems a little counterintuitive: to shrink the size of your market.
Most likely, marketing to fewer customers wasn't on your list of New Year's resolutions. And yet, it can be smarter, not to mention more efficient, to focus on your core customers, and your core message, making sure that the two are in line. It can also help you save a lot of time and money that you would have wasted competing with companies who might be better suited to win certain kinds of customers.
The Basics of Efficiency-Based Marketing
Here are the basic ingredients for a more efficient online marketing campaign:
More cohesive marketing campaigns. Far too many businesses treat their online marketing campaigns like a massive "to-do" list, without any real short- or long-term strategic thinking. They know they have lots of things they have to do to compete online, but aren’t really sure what they are trying to accomplish (in a bottom-line sense), or how these activities are going to get them there.
A better approach is to figure out who you're targeting, what you're hoping to have them accomplish, and which pieces need to be put in place to accomplish those goals.
More market awareness and feedback. Obviously, new sales and accounts are great ways to measure the effectiveness of your online marketing campaign. But, there are usually a lot of intermediary steps, and not enough businesses take advantage of direct feedback from their customers to optimize these other links in the chain. In other words, it's a good idea to ask buyers what they want (and how you're doing) to get the most valuable answers.
There are lots of ways to get feedback from buyers and potential buyers, and "listening in" to the market can help you make important changes quickly and affordably.
More social media marketing to targeted groups. The jury is out on a lot of aspects of social media marketing, but the best way to use it effectively might be to gather lots of "friends and fans" from your very best potential clients, and then to hit them with timely, targeted messages. That's not the way most companies are approaching Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, of course, but it could be the most efficient.
The most important shift here is going from the size of your contact list to its contents. Instead of looking for more people, you should be looking for better potential customers from your social networking efforts.
More focused spending and planning. All of these other elements, of course, have a degree of time and money that have to be devoted to them. But, again, lots of companies are just picking a budget number that seems reasonable and then throwing resources in the general direction of Internet marketing. That's a reasonable place to start, but it's never going to maximize the effectiveness of your expenditures.
Your Internet marketing team should be working with you to ensure that all of your time and money is being used in the best way possible. That doesn't just take efficiency, but also focus on some measurable bottom-line goal.
Do You Really Need a Bigger Year, or Just a More Profitable One?
Put together, what these elements really combine to make is attention to detail. So, while they might mean targeting fewer overall customers, they also mean doing a better job of reaching them more consistently. That increases your value-per-prospect, could potentially increase the value of each customer you acquire, and most importantly, makes it harder for your competitors to angle into the picture.
We suspect those are things that a lot of businesses would love to achieve, especially if it meant lowering (or at least not raising) their online marketing budget. So, as the new year comes into focus, are you marketing as efficiently as you could be?