A question I get asked by many people is “what is the most important factor when it comes to marketing my business? Is it my unique selling proposition/point (USP), the offer I give, or even how fancy my marketing pieces look?”

Actually the answer is target marketing! When I tell people this, the stock answer I get is “everybody can use my product or service”. Although they are of course correct, they are forgetting one thing. Everybody buys from you for a different reason, so how do you expect to appeal to all of your potential customers with the same marketing pieces?

The reason that most people think this way is because this is the form of marketing they are faced with most of the time. We a constantly bombarded by marketing from some of the biggest companies in the world such as Sony and Tesco. They have huge marketing budgets, sell to millions of people and need to keep their brand name in front of their customers. Although brand marketing is proven to work, it is a very expensive form of marketing because you have to do it all the time to keep your place in the market.

Most businesses are not big enough to make this a justifiable marketing proposition. So what does work for all business? The answer is product or service promotion. If you had only one product or could give one type of service and this appealed to only one type of customer, how easy would your marketing be? You could extol the full benefits and USP of the product and your customer would understand this and be much more likely to buy from you because you had made a specific connection with them.

So this is the secret of target marketing, but like most things in life, it may seem simple but for some it is not that easy. If you have thousands of products/types of service and customers of all shapes and sizes, which ones do you choose to target?

Well, if you review your current customer base I am sure you will find that you will have some awesome clients- those that buy more than the average from you, are a pleasure to serve and never quibble about price. You will then have those that are your basic “bread and butter” clients, who are just good solid business. Then you will have a group that you would be happier without, because they are normally hard work, don’t spend that much and complain when they do. I call this your client ABC – A is awesome, B is basic, C is can’t deal with.

Now you don’t have to be an amazing marketing guru to realise that it would be better to attract more A grade clients than B’s and C’s. Once you agree with this it is a good time to identify what exactly makes an A grade client. This can be factors such as demographics, location, what they buy or how much they spend etc . You might like to be more thorough, carry out a client survey and actually ask them! You could also take the opportunity to find out what it is about you that they like, which will help you find your USP.

Once you know who your A grade clients are, your job is to go and find more of them. And this is where you start to build your marketing campaign. There are many ways to do this but one of the simplest is to use the 5 ½ W’s approach.

Who do you want to target? – Which you have now identified. Be specific!

What do they want? – Which product or service are they going to be most interested in?

Where do you find them? – Do they frequent similar clubs, read similar magazines, go to similar events?

When will they be looking? – Sometimes there are better times to contact them, maybe before their year-end or just before their current contract expires.

Why should they take action? You must have a compelling offer that will make them take action now, even if it is just to register interest and allow you to contact them again at a future time.

How are you going to communicate to them? – What medium will you choose, radio, paper, letter, telephone. If you know your target this will be obvious.

When doing this, think of a picking off your future clients one by one with a clear specific message that will make them react immediately, rather than hitting everybody with a weak and confusing message. We call this the guerrilla marketing approach , and if you want to learn more then I recommend you read Jay Conrad-Levinson’s “Guerrilla Marketing”, as he is the granddaddy of the concept.

So now you know how to hit the target every time. Remember though that occasionally you might miss, but just like a champion darts player who does not get the treble 20 every time, you always have another turn and the more you throw the better you get. So go on get up to the oche and take action