Defining your target market in terms of demographics, interests, etc is the first step to understanding how to reach potential customers and grow your business. One extremely important question to answer is: How do they make purchasing decisions? Customers generally go through five stages when making a purchase. Need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase and post-purchase evaluation. Knowing how the people in your target market approach these different phases of the purchase decision making process will help you to do a better job of reaching them. The goal is to be the business they think of and/or the business they find when going through the process of making a buying decision. Although many of the concepts involved in making purchasing decisions apply to both new and existing customers the focus of this writing is on earning new customers.
Make the Most of Your Website
On line shopping is becoming more and more prevalent and the number of people that shop and purchase online is growing rapidly. Chances are that potential customers will review your company web site at some point during the decision making process. The worst case scenario is not having a website at all. Not only can people not find out about you – they cannot find you at all. A web site can serve a number of purposes and there are very specific characteristics that will make a website more or less effective. But in relation to the topic of this discussion – reaching your target market – the website should answer the questions that your target audience will ask. What type of vehicles do you service? What brands of tires do you offer? What qualifications do you have? What are your rates? These are all very common questions but knowing the more specific questions your target audience has in mind and addressing them on your website can set you apart from the competition.
Take Advantage of Internet Reviews
As more and more people turn to the Internet to make purchasing decisions, many look at on line reviews to get information on businesses they are considering buying from. This area can be very important and must be given attention. Positive reviews are an excellent way to attract business and happy customers should be encouraged to post positive reviews online. Negative reviews may occur and the best way to handle them is to respond in a positive way ‘Thanks for bringing this to our attention – we’ll be taking corrective actions in this area.’ Also, contacting the person who posted the negative review and offering to repair the relationship is always a good response. They may actually post a good review to counter the bad one.
Non-internet related marketing can be very effective and depending on the target audience may be the best way to reach prospective customers. Activities such as putting business cards or flyers in the windows of cars that are of the type you specialize in or that have worn tires for example can be a very good way to let people know you’re there. Coupon mailers and advertising in newspapers and other printed publications can also be effective means of attracting prospective customers.
Know How Your Target Market Shops
The key point is to understand how your target market shops and makes purchase decisions. What do they consider to be the most important issues when looking for a service provider, and where do they look to find them. Being in the right place at the right time requires knowing what the right place is. Delivering the right message in the right place requires knowing what is important to your target market.