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    Build a smaller, thicker marketing platform so your best customers will see you.

    Every marketing and advertising manager faces the same challenge: how to stretch their budgets to reach more prospective customers with their message. Theoretically, with unlimited dollars, you could simply buy enough ads and impressions to reach everyone, thus insuring your message will be seen by the desired audience.

    But, no one has an unlimited marketing budget, so the manager’s responsibility is to make choices. The criteria they use to make those decisions are critical to the eventual outcome of the campaign.  Far too often, local business owners who make their own marketing decisions, attempt to reach everyone, without the benefit of that unlimited budget. The results are usually disappointing and, sometimes, disastrous.

    Local advertisers are forced to make their decisions based on “reach” criteria because they lack critical information to make smart decisions about targeting. They need to change their buying criteria.

    Stretching a marketing campaign to reach more potential customers is like stretching a piece of taffy—the farther you go, the thinner it gets. In this case, thinner means the target customer is exposed to fewer repetitions of the message. Repetition is the key to any successful marketing campaign. Most experts agree the average person needs to see or hear a message at least three times (really more like 5-8 times) to get their attention, comprehend the message and decide whether or not to act on it.

    If an advertiser knew exactly which people would buy their products and where they were located, they could confidently direct their marketing resources towards those prospects. They could build a smaller, but thicker platform, providing stability, increased recognition and better understanding for their marketing message.  Thickness equals more message repetitions.

    The secret to building a solid marketing platform is identifying and locating the people who are most likely to do business with you. Analyzing your current customers is a great place to start. What things do they have in common: location, income levels, types of jobs worked, family structure? These are just a few of the hundreds of possible attributes that can be evaluated. The more data you collect on your customers, the more complete your analysis will be.

    Once your know what attributes distinguish your customers from everyone else in the market, you can start looking for other people who share those same attributes. The mega-retailers like Wal Mart and Home Depot have been doing just that for more than twenty years, utilizing a demographic research tool called Lifestyle Segmentation, which combines US Census data with credit reporting information on more than 200 million Americans and in-depth psychographic research to provide the most detailed profiles of U.S. households available.

    Armed with this kind of detailed information, a marketer can confidently narrow their target market and concentrate on communicating almost exclusively with those very best customers and prospects. Instead of spreading the media budget thinly across many market segments, the informed marketer confidently keeps their resources and message focused on the people who matter most to their business. Even with limited budgets, marketers are able to generate adequate repetitions of their messages with the target group. Repetition is the key to a successful marketing campaign, because, just like our kids, customers hardly ever do what their told the first time their asked. Each potential customer has to hear your message at least three times (and probably seven to nine times when launching a new product or service) to take any action. So many campaigns fail because they ignore this bedrock marketing principle. That’s when they begin hearing the ice cracking beneath them.

    The targeted marketer, standing on a smaller, but thicker hunk of ice, isn’t worrying about chasing customers. They stand still and let the customer parade come to them. And, when they do, that marketer is ready with dozens of messages designed to get their best prospects to take action.