This is a guest post from Kelly McDonald, author of “How to Market to People Not Like You: Know It or Blow It Rules for Reaching Diverse Customers.”
The marketing environment has become more complex, and consumers have become more sophisticated. They’re inundated with numerous messages for everything and the result is that people will only pay attention to that which is relevant in their lives. There’s simply no more extra “room” in our days or our brains for that which is irrelevant.
The result is a consumer backlash against overt marketing techniques. We’re sick of being “pitched”, we’re jaded and our guard is always up against someone trying to sell us something.
This is where “marketing to people who are not like you” comes in. Diversity marketing is the new norm, and this doesn’t simply mean racial diversity. Diversity comes in many forms: gender, race, age, lifestage, physical abilities, affluence, language preference, sexuality, nativity and hobbies or special interests are all ways in which people’s differences are recognized. By recognizing these differences and tailoring your product, message or marketing efforts to reflect consumers’ uniqueness, you are validating the importance of a consumer group.
For effective public relations messaging, think about ways in which your customer prospects differ rather than how they are alike. This may be counter-intuitive to how you usually think: we are conditioned to thinking of our customers with a specific profile, sort of a “one-size fits all” mindset. But focusing on consumer differences can bring your clients incremental business.
Here are five key steps to expanding business with new customers:
Step 1: Identify the prospect or customer you’re not getting, but could be and should be. What are they like? What are their concerns? How do they spend their time? What is most important to them? What do they value?
For example, the Angelika movie theatre realized that a key market opportunity for them was people who could go to the movies in the morning. They knew that additional revenue could be generated if they could bring in an audience in the mornings. But who can go to the movies on a weekday morning? New moms can. If a woman is on maternity leave or is a stay-at-home mom, she’s a perfect candidate for a morning movie showing. After all, just because she’s had a baby doesn’t mean she’s no longer interested in movies. Which leads to step 2.
Step 2: Identify the barriers to doing business with you or your client. In the case of the Angelika theatre, barriers included the hassle of finding child care or the appropriateness of taking the baby to the movie. If the baby starts fussing during a movie, other patrons will not be pleased and the new mom will feel like she ruined the movie experience for others.
Step 3: Develop systems and/or products that overcome the barriers for your new prospect. The Angelika created “Crybaby Matinees”, a mom-friendly environment in which new moms rule: no men allowed, so women can breast-feed comfortably, a baby-changing table in the back of the theatre so mom wouldn’t miss a minute of the movie if she needs to change a diaper, and shows at 11:00 am, timed for baby’s first nap of the day. Not only did this environment address the barriers that might stop a new mom from going to the movies, it showed tremendous insight and respect for what a new mom’s needs are.
Step 4: Identify the business you’re in – or the business that your client is in. Then build on that to make an effective communications plan. Many years ago, I attended a seminar at Disney on branding and they asked top executives in the audience “What business are we in here at Disney?” Typical audience responses included “entertainment”, “family fun”, etc. But Disney stated that they are in the “business of making memories”. Families save all year, or maybe all their lives, to go to Disney World. They must have a wonderful time there, and wonderful memories, or Disney has failed. This idea of making memories drives everything they do, from how many trash cans are in the park to how long the waits are for the rides. (Imagine coming home from a trip to Disney World and telling your friends that the trip was great, but Disney World was dirty and the park had litter everywhere. It simply wouldn’t happen, because Disney makes sure they are known for good memories, not negative incidentals like trash.).
In the case of the Angelika theatre, they are in the business of “escapism”. Their “product” offers viewers an escape from real life for a couple of hours.
Think about what makes your client distinctive. Are they in the business of flexibility? (Offering tremendous flexibility regarding billing, shipping, etc.) Are they in the business of problem-solving? (Offering expert advice on the best products for customers’ unique needs) Are they in the hero business? (Being able to perform a seemingly impossible task or meet an impossible deadline and therefore, “saving the day”). Identify what sets your client apart from anyone else. Then focus on that distinction and make sure all the messaging is on strategy to communicate that.
Step 5: Don’t “Spray & Pray”. Customize Messaging for Your High-Potential Prospects. Many clients try to stretch their marketing plans to do a little bit of everything. The result is usually a watered-down, ineffective plan that doesn’t reach anyone in a meaningful and ongoing way. I call this “spray & pray”: – spraying your message as broadly as possible and hoping to the heavens that it works. It usually doesn’t.
Once you’ve identified who your high-potential customers are, focus your marketing efforts on reaching them, consistently and in a meaningful way. The Angelika theatre created special messaging that highlighted the mom-friendly environment and all the benefits of carving out a little time for yourself to see a movie with other moms.
These steps will help you grow your clients’ business by bringing incremental customers and profits.
Kelly McDonald is the author of “How to Market to People Not Like You: Know It or Blow It Rules for Reaching Diverse Customers.” She is also a popular speaker and president of McDonald Marketing, a full-service marketing firm in Dallas, Texas. She can be reached at 214-880-1717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The company’s website is www.mcdonaldmarketing.com