FOCUSING YOUR MARKETING efforts on the
people and companies most likely to buy your products or services is basic to a company’s marketing.
The Web makes identifying and learning about your
customers easier and less expensive to accomplish.
Here are some other smart steps.
• Learn what people are saying about your businesses and other businesses like yours on social
media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn and review
sites like Yelp and Google. From these comments,
you can mold your business to what customers need
and will pay for.
• Conduct surveys, using a site like Survey
Monkey ( surveymonkey.com). Its basic service is
free. Surveys can help you decide on product
changes and what kind of specials or discounts people are apt to respond best to.
• Learn what content people will read or view,
and notice page counts and comments. To find
forums and blogs used by people you are targeting,
Google terms such as “drones + forum” or “dry
cleaning + blog,” etc.
• Ask people to share their stories about your
products or services. This can yield remarkable content for blogs and your website.
• On your website or in person, ask people to fill
out an online or paper contact form, perhaps in
exchange for a free newsletter. Design your form so
they can check off what social media they use:
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+. Allow them
to add other social media sites, such as Instagram
• Manually search social media sites to find
your customers. Each site has search tools to identify people. It’s easy to search for people on Facebook
by clicking on “Find Friends”; on Twitter, you can
use its search engine to find people. A separate tool
called Tweepz enables you to find people near your
business. LinkedIn and Google+ provide search
boxes to find people and topics.
• Check LinkedIn for groups that relate to your
business or industry.
• Assemble all the information you have about
your target customers: what motivates them to buy
your product or service; their age, gender, location,
income level. If you have data from social media
analytics, Web tracking and census data, add this to
what customers have said to you and what you’ve
learned from surveys.
• Sort your customers into types. Identify ways
to market to each type of customer, such as email,
social media networks or other forms of marketing
that your target customers use.
Targeting your customers with the right mix of
products and messages can enable you to be in frequent contact with them, at little or no cost beyond
the time you invest, while motivating them to do
business with you. C
Targeting your customers
PAUL AND SARAH
Paul and Sarah Edwards
are the authors of 17
MORE IN ARCHIVES
LIFESTYLES FOR THE MILLENNIUM
Taking hashtags seriously
BY NOW YOU’VE no doubt seen
hashtags, those funny little short
words or phrases following a
that allow users to tag posts,
pictures or even video. Doing
this allows most search engines
or social media sites to categorize
anything posted with that
hashtag. According to Costco
member Barry Sloane, who advises small
business, the implications of this tool have
not yet been fully realized by the small-busi-
ness community. Sloane offers four
ways businesses can use hashtags to
A survey done by RadiumOne
( radiumone.com), an online advertising
firm, found that 51 percent of those who
responded said that they would be more will-
ing to share a company’s hashtag if they were
awarded discounts or chances at prizes. This
levels the playing field when it
comes to simple, effective pro-
motion for small businesses.
Not only can you offer dis-
counts, and bring in more
customers, but a hashtag
allows you to track promo-
tions activity online.
Hashtags open up the social media
world to better converse about
your company. A website
or a URL post only
takes visitors to your
but a hashtag can be
used in everyday
social media, allowing
you to track the conversation and get a better idea
of what is being said.
tools allow companies
to target certain areas or
people based on hashtags. For example, if
you want to market to people with new
homes you can use the hashtag #newhome.
This approach also lets you pick out the indi-
viduals who are most likely to use social net-
works and therefore more likely to give your
company a positive posting, which you can
While hashtags have
begun to be utilized in busi-
ness, there are endless pos-
sibilities to what can be
done with them. With large
companies announcing plans
to allow customers to make
purchases using hashtags, the
potential is vast. C