Reach More Customers by Spending Less
Learn how to better target your marketing
You read that title right. And, no, this isn't a pyramid scam or a get-rich-quick scheme for companies trying to reverse a downward revenue trend. It's more like a new (or recycled) way of thinking to reach your customers at a time and place where they want to hear your message.
As many of you already know, media costs continue to soar, with rates in many markets increasing every year (if not every quarter). And as rates climb, the ways in which people interact with media are radically changing. Gone are the days when most people sit down in front of the TV and immerse themselves for 2-3 hours in the warm glow of cathodes.
Now people are multitasking when it comes to mediums. They browse the Internet with the TV on in the background. The listen to the radio while reading the newspaper. They thumb through e-mails on their PDA while driving past billboards (I'm ashamed to admit that I've done this once or twice).
In fact, a recent study has shown that more than 50% of respondents multitask with TV, the Internet and magazines during the 7-11 p.m. prime time hours (Source: Schultz & Pilotta, 2002). What does all this media multitasking mean? It means that those interested audiences that cost more and more to get in front of aren't nearly as interested as advertised. So, in essence, you're now paying more money for fewer unduplicated eyeballs.
I'd like to stop here before we get all wrapped up in how much to spend and pose this thought: instead of focusing how much to spend, maybe a better approach is to look at the places where customers already come into contact with your company and work backward from there. This way, you're starting with the places where you already touch customers and not with expensive media.
But to do this effectively requires some background work
- You need to know all your customer touch points – This might require a bit of brainstorming and legwork, but the time spent identifying all the places where your product/service and your best customers come into contact can save you loads of money in the long run. Why? Because some of those places may be less expensive as well as more effective venues to reach customers.
- You need to know what your customers want to know – This is where customer research and data – both quantitative and qualitative – come into play as well as the knowledge of your frontline employees and/or sales force, who are in contact with your customers constantly and have valuable insights on what customers want to hear.
- You need to know when and where your customers want to hear your message – This may take a bit of tweaking and testing, but it shouldn't be overly costly because you have already identified the best places to touch your best customers. All that remains is developing and executing the communication strategy for each touch point.
Now the key question … does this all equate to spending less and improving revenues? In my opinion, it should because you have a more targeted strategy for reaching your ideal customers where they already come in contact with you.
Let's set up a fictional example to demonstrate
Mountain Star Hotels is a regional hotel chain that caters to the budget-minded business traveler. Their properties are typically located on the outskirts of downtowns, near airports and at intersections of larger highways.
Mountain Star has developed an extended stay discount program and wants to get the word out. So a great place to start could be with on-premise marketing like in-room table tents, ads on the in-house cable station and signage (featuring their logo design and tagline) in front of the property.
Then they can directly market to their core customers by sending them coupons for booking an extended stay and by offering funky rewards for booking (e.g., a towel giveaway where the towels say “Take this towel when you plan an extended stay with Mountain Star” or “Mountain Star is my home away from home”). They can modify their Web site home page (where return customers often visit to pre-book their trips) to announce the program and give visitors additional incentive to book online. Or they can team up with an airline or other carrier to offer extended stay packages and get heavily discounted coverage in their in-flight magazine, mailings or other communications.
As you can see, all of these things have to do with touching the hotel's customers where they already are and none of them involve buying expensive media.
So before you take the plunge and spend away, think about reaching your customers where you already touch them and you might be able to make a big splash without taking that plunge.