There are two basic markets you can sell to: Consumer and business. These divisions are fairly obvious. For example, if you are selling women’s clothing from a retail store, your target market is consumers; if you are selling office supplies, your target market is businesses (this is referred to as ‘B2B’ sales).
In some cases – for example, if you run a printing business – you may be marketing to both businesses and individual consumers.
No business, particularly a small one, can be all things to all people. The more narrowly you can define your target market, the better.
This process is known as creating a niche and is key to success for even the biggest companies. Mr Price and Sterns are both retailers, but they have very different niches: Mr Price caters to bargain-minded shoppers, while Sterns appeals to upscale jewelry consumers.
“Many people talk about ‘finding’ a niche as if it were something under a rock or at the end of the rainbow, ready-made. That is nonsense,” says Lynda Falkenstein, author of Nichecraft: Using Your Specialness to Focus Your Business, Corner Your Market & Make Customers Seek You Out.Good niches do not just fall into your lap; they must be very carefully crafted.
Rather than creating a niche, many entrepreneurs make the mistake of falling into the “all over the map” trap, claiming they can do many things and be good at all of them.
These people quickly learn a tough lesson, Falkenstein warns: “Smaller is bigger in business, and smaller is not all over the map; it’s highly focused.”
Creating a good niche, advises Falkenstein, involves following a seven-step process:
1. Make a wish list.
With whom do you want to do business?
Be as specific as you can: Identify the geographic range and the types of businesses or customers you want your business to target.
If you don’t know who you want to do business with, you can’t make contact. “You must recognise that you can’t do business with everybody,” cautions Falkenstein. Otherwise, you risk exhausting yourself and confusing your customers.
These days, the trend is toward smaller niches. Targeting teenagers isn’t specific enough; targeting male, black teenagers with family incomes of R120 000 and up is.
Aiming at companies that sell software is too broad; aiming at Johannesburg-based companies that provide internet software sales and training and have sales of R100 million or more is a better goal.
Clarify what you want to sell, remembering: a) You can’t be all things to all people and b) ‘smaller is bigger.’ Your niche is not the same as the field in which you work.
For example, a retail clothing business is not a niche but a field. A more specific niche may be ‘maternity clothes for executive women.’ To begin this focusing process, Falkenstein suggests using these techniques to help you:
- Make a list of things you do best and the skills implicit in each of them.
- List your achievements.
- Identify the most important lessons you have learned in life.
- Look for patterns that reveal your style or approach to resolving problems.
Your niche should arise naturally from your interests and experience. For example, if you spent 10 years working in a consulting firm, but also spent ten years working for a small, family-owned business, you may decide to start a consulting business that specialises in small, family-owned companies.
3. Describe the customer’s worldview.
A successful business uses what Falkenstein calls the Platinum Rule: ‘Do unto others as they would do unto themselves.’
When you look at the world from your prospective customers’ perspective, you can identify their needs or wants. The best way to do this is to talk to prospective customers and identify their main concerns.
At this stage, your niche should begin to take shape as your ideas and the client’s needs and wants coalesce to create something new. A good niche has five qualities:
- It takes you where you want to go – in other words, it conforms to your long-term vision.
- Somebody else wants it – namely, customers.
- It’s carefully planned.
- It’s one-of-a-kind, the ‘only game in town.’
- It evolves, allowing you to develop different profit centers and still retain the core business, thus ensuring long-term success.
Now it’s time to evaluate your proposed product or service against the five criteria in Step 4. Perhaps you’ll find that the niche you had in mind requires more business travel than you’re ready for.
That means it doesn’t fulfill one of the above criteria – it won’t take you where you want to go. So scrap it, and move on to the next idea.
Once you have a match between niche and product, test-market it. “Give people an opportunity to buy your product or service – not just theoretically but actually putting it out there,” suggests Falkenstein.
This can be done by offering samples, such as a free mini-seminar or a sample copy of your newsletter. The test shouldn’t cost you a lot of money: “If you spend huge amounts of money on the initial market test, you are probably doing it wrong,” she says.
7. Go for it.
It’s time to implement your idea. For many entrepreneurs, this is the most difficult stage.
But fear not: If you did your homework, entering the market will be a calculated risk, not just a gamble.
Useful Marketing Tactics For Growing Businesses
Customer acquisition, customer experience and content marketing can be identified as the three most important marketing strategy areas to focus on.
Digital marketing offers the business world so many advantages, including the ability to communicate with their target markets quickly and easily. Unfortunately, digital marketing has also opened doors for companies to flood mail boxes, news feeds and ad spaces with junk mail and spam resulting in customers tuning out to anything irrelevant and suspicious.
Customers have become less likely to trust companies and less receptive to messages. The only way for valuable messaging to stand out from the noise is if a business knows how to market itself properly.
Over and above advertising, there are a lot of other aspects that contribute towards an effective marketing strategy, these include research, email, content creation, list curation, social media and even customer service. To be a successful marketer it isn’t necessary to become an expert in every single marketing tactic, but it is important to master the most important areas. Customer acquisition, customer experience and content marketing can be identified as the three most important marketing strategy areas to focus on.
1. Customer acquisition
Of course, not all customers are the same. Some customers are only interested in buying products on sale from a particular brand and then never interact with that brand again. Acquiring, and of course retaining customers with a high lifetime value should be the overall objective for businesses, but this requires more time and money being invested in better, more qualified leads. While the upfront costs might be higher, in the long-term this investment will pay off with continued business from these lifetime customers.
2. Customer experience
Competitive pricing can’t be the only aspect that businesses focus on in order to stand out against competitors. In the current digital era customers expect a good customer experience when they deal with brands so this should be an important focus area for all businesses. Customers expect fast and seamless experiences such as intuitive user interfaces and processes, fast websites and service response times, as well as accurate information about the problems they face.
Customers don’t want to waste their time on websites that require them to jump through hoops, and they definitely don’t want to feel misled by anything a business is communicating. Customers will quickly move on to other sites that offer better experiences as well as other businesses that are more trustworthy. Good customer experiences can go a long way.
Offering more personalised, interactive engagement tactics and improving the customer technology interface should be high priorities for businesses.
3. Content marketing
Marketing is no longer about telling customers that your brand is the best. With the movement towards content marketing, marketing has become about showing customers why you are the best. Content marketing is a legitimate, effective strategy that every business and brand should make use of. While content marketing is a lot more cost effective than outbound marketing, it also generates three times as many leads and offers many other benefits.
Content is a key feature for growing businesses who want to survive in an information rich environment. Customers are looking for brands that provide value beyond their products so creating high-quality content can help you grab your audience’s attention.
Although there are many other factors that are involved in an effective marketing strategy, seeking out customers with a high lifetime value, providing them with a great customer experience while also providing them with valuable content is a recipe for success.
An ‘Outside-the-Box’ Approach to the e-Commerce Unboxing Experience
Get started by keeping three elements in mind – recyclable/re-usable packaging, personalised thank-you notes and free samples.
With a predicted 24,79 million e-commerce users in South Africa by 2021, online shopping is here to stay, making it impossible to escape the predicament of perfecting the art of product packaging. It’s time to think outside the box when it comes to creating a meaningful unboxing experience. Get started by keeping three elements in mind – recyclable/re-usable packaging, personalised thank-you notes and free samples.
Certain types of product packaging are having a tremendous negative impact on our environment, with 5.35 trillion pieces of plastic debris littering the world’s oceans, and with 269,000 tonnes of this amount floating on the surface – and plastic isn’t the only culprit. Did you know that it’s impossible for Styrofoam to ever be broken down completely? And that 1 million single-use coffee cups wind up in landfill every single minute of every day? These statistics make it obvious as to why it’s becoming so important for business owners to be more conscious about the type of packaging that they use.
Many business owners wonder if their customers really care whether their business is doing its part to protect the environment. According to Forbes and a 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study, the answer is a resounding ‘YES, they most certainly do!’.
87% of the consumers surveyed stated that they always have a more positive image of a company that supports social or environmental issues, and 88% claimed that they usually feel more loyal toward a company that they know supports social or environmental issues.
Thoughtful Thank-You Notes
The unboxing experience should be a unique and personal one, and it should be just as memorable as the experience of utilising the product itself! So, make it all the more special and build customer loyalty by including a personalised thank you note. Address the customer by their first name, thank them sincerely for their patronage and end off by giving them some helpful advice regarding the product, or share an interesting benefit of using it. Go the extra, extra mile by hand-writing the letter too.
Everyone loves getting free stuff. Why not bolster the unboxing experience by sending over a little bit more than expected? Not only will a free sample put a big smile on the face of the receiver, if they actually enjoy using it, there’s also a good chance that they’ll be coming back to order more. According to Shopify, free samples have the potential to boost sales by as much as 2,000%.
When it comes to packaging, make the right choice. Sustainable, thoughtful, memorable. Your customers, and the environment, will thank you for it.
The Facebook Ads Strategy That Can’t Lose
It’s a numbers game.
Running a profitable Facebook Ads campaign is simple. Not always easy, but simple.
There is a formula that can guarantee a profitable Facebook Ad campaign. Once you know the formula and the values to plug in, you’ll never sink money into a losing digital ad campaign again. I know it sounds too good to be true, but stick with me…
The Guaranteed Growth Formula
Here’s the entire formula: CPA < AP
Were you expecting coefficients, remainders and dividing by polynomials? Nope, there are only two values that matter when assessing your digital marketing funnel.
1. CPA – Cost Per Acquisition
2. AP – Average Profit Per Client
If your Cost Per Acquisition, the amount you pay to generate a paying customer using Facebook Ads, is less than the Average Profit you make from each new customer you’re guaranteed a profitable campaign.
Calculating Average Profit
To get average profit per client, sum your total revenue from new clients and subtract what you spent to serve them. Divide the result by the total new clients. For example, if you made $75,000 from 10 new clients over the past year and it cost you $40,000 to serve them, your average profit is:
($75,000 – $40,000) / 10 = $3500 Average Profit Per Client
If your average acquisition cost for similar future clients is less than $3500, your campaign will technically be profitable.
Of course most businesses won’t want to spend all of their profit on acquisition. An average business can expect to invest at least 7 percent but no more than 15 percent of revenue in sales and marketing. If Cost of Goods accounts for 60 percent or more of total revenue, your low profit margin may make it difficult to afford successful advertising. Decrease operating costs by increasing efficiency or adjust your margin by raising prices.
Don’t make the mistake of calculating Average Profit based on revenue only from the first sale. Use at least six months of revenue or your lifetime client value as the basis for your calculation, or you risk underfunding your marketing and sales budget.
Calculating Cost Per Acquisition
Let’s assume you’ve considered all of your marketing and sales costs and determined you can spend $350 per new client on Facebook Ads. Let’s reverse engineer your ad campaign to see if a $350 cost of acquisition is reasonable.
The simplest Facebook ads funnel includes four metrics that build upon each other to determine your acquisition cost. I’ve included standard benchmarks for use as a starting point, but your results may differ:
1. Click-Through Rate (CTR) – Percentage of people clicking on your ad. Your CTR should be near or above 1 percent.
2. Cost Per Click (CPC) – The cost of one website visit. CPC should generally be below $3.
3. Lead Conversion Rate – The percentage of site traffic that becomes qualified leads. This value should be 20 percent or above.
4. Sales Conversion Rate – The percentage of leads that convert to a sale. Aim for sales conversion at or above 5 percent. (E-commerce companies often skip the Lead Conversion stage and have a Sales Conversion Rate of 1 percent or greater.)
If 10,000 people view your ad at a 1 percent CTR, you’ll get about 100 website visits. At a $3 CPC, you’ve spent $300. Since 20 percent of your traffic will become leads and 5 percent of those leads become closed sales, we can calculate that you’ll generate approximately 60 leads and three new customers.
Your estimated acquisition cost using Facebook Ads is $100 per client, which is well within your budget of $350. This cost may rise as you scale and target less optimal prospects, but as long as your acquisition cost is less than $350 you’ll make an acceptable profit.
Complex funnels can include several ads and conversion points, but the Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP still applies. There’s no immediate reason for concern if your metrics differ from the benchmarks. You can and should split test ideas for improvement if your numbers are far from what you expect, but don’t mess up a good thing until you’ve got a better one.
Optimising Your Guaranteed Growth Funnel
If unhealthy metrics cause your acquisition to cost more than what you’ve budgeted, start with these adjustments:
Click-Through Rate Too Low or Cost Per Click Too High
If your CTR falls far under 1 percent Facebook may stop showing your ads or show them to second-rate audiences causing your traffic to tank and CPC to increase. To improve your click metrics, adjust your ad copy (headline and body text), ad creative (image or video) and highlight the benefits in your offer.
Refine your audience. Tailor your copy, images and call-to-action to the audience you’ve selected and ensure that your audience has the desire and means to act.
Lead Conversion Too Low
If leads aren’t converting at 20 percent or more, either the promise made by your ad isn’t congruent with your landing page, or the process of moving forward is too difficult. Try using the same image and headline in your ad and reduce the form fields in sign-up forms to the bare minimum. Also try retargeting visitors who don’t sign up with ads stating the benefits of acting now, or with a different offer.
Sales Conversion Too Low
If you’re an Ecommerce brand with sales conversion below 1 percent your shopping cart or sales process may have too much friction. Simplify the sales process to decrease clutter, or increase trust by adding testimonials and trust signals near important calls to action.
Your sales process may need improvement, but that is beyond this article. In the meantime, you can still increase revenue by cross-selling and upselling those who convert. You may also improve client retention with recurring contracts. Yes, that’s why many software companies are switching to cloud-based subscription models.
When used properly, The Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP makes Facebook Ad marketing an investment, not an expense. Using the formula, the most you should ever risk is a small initial budget to test whether your estimated calculations hold true in practice.
If your net profit is 3X your acquisition cost, your funnel returns $3 for every $1 you invest. Instead of asking “How much should I spend on marketing?” The question becomes, “How much do I want to make?” I’ve built a Facebook Ad Growth Calculator that incorporates the Guaranteed Growth Formula to help execute your growth strategy. Input your revenue goal and it will estimate the Facebook Ad impressions and traffic required to reach it.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.