Building Your Strategic Marketing Plan
Part Two: Who Are Your Customers and How Will You Connect With Them?
By Brandon Willey, CEO, FetchRev
In the last issue we dug into the meaty and heavyweight task of fleshing out your purpose and mission and then setting the SMART goals that will bring you closer to achieving the grand vision for your business.
Over the course of three consecutive RePlay issues (we are smackdab in the middle at the moment), we will cover six critical steps to building your strategic marketing plan in order to achieve world domination:
1. Who are you?
2. What do you want to achieve?
3. Who are your customers?
4. How will you connect with them?
5. What will you say to them?
6. How are you doing?
With that out of the way, it’s high time to hop down into the weeds and determine who your customers are and how you will connect with them. Let’s get busy!
This Little Piggy
Just like the children’s nursery rhyme from the 18th century, each of your little piggies, (ahem, customers) have different motivations and buying habits when they consider visiting your facility.
The third and quintessential step along your strategic development journey is to identify your target customers, lump them into groups and then define what each group sees, hears, feels, wants, and looks like. In marketing jargon, these target customer groups are called “personas” and it is highly likely that you will need to identify different target personas for each of your specific SMART goals that you established last month.
Don’t worry though. It is possible that some of your personas will travel across multiple goals (i.e. young moms probably want birthday parties, but are also looking for open play for their kiddos). What is most important at this phase is that you stay focused on identifying the relevant personas for each goal.
In order to make it easier to apply the oncoming onslaught of hot tips and methods, choose one of your goals and drop it into the back of your mind and use that as a framework as you mentally work through each stage of this process.
Now, to get the juices flowing and the No. 2 pencil scribbling (do people still use these?), here are a few examples of personas that often pop up in the FECs we know: married moms, single moms, married dads, single dads, teens, young adults, tweens, children of various age groups, companies (think corporate team building), schools, churches and charities.
So, at this point you can check the box and say that you’ve listed out a handful of personas. Good! That’s the first step, but it is also about as effective as pointing out the pocket you intend to place the eight ball at the end of a game of pool. You still have to shoot the ball in the pocket! And in the marketing game, the only way to win is to get into the mind and heart of each of your customer personas.
Know Thy Customers
Socrates may have written “to know thyself is the beginning of wisdom,” but in the realm of business, I’ll take my direction from Peter Drucker who claims, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, Druckster. It is imperative that you step back, out, in or any direction that gets you into the very being of each of your customer segments.
This can be relatively difficult the first time you take such a journey into the empathic realm. To get into the mood and effective flow, I recommend starting with the more tangible and sense-driven aspects that your chosen persona experiences every day (refer to the graphic on the first page): What does she hear? (i.e. What are friends, family and influencers saying that could impact her thinking?); What does she see? (i.e. What competitors is she confronted with or what things in her environment influence her?); and What does she feel? (i.e. What really matters to her and what occupies her thinking?).
If you want to tackle this in a more meaningful and substantive way, take a week for each persona and absorb yourself with experiences relevant to that customer segment and align your mindset with that of your chosen group. Walk through your facility with the eyes and ears of your chosen persona, go to the places that these customers frequent, talk to actual customers or potential customers that fit the profile, and listen and learn.
Only once you are firmly rooted into the mindset of your specified persona can you answer the most important question of them all: What is the pain that your offering can solve? (i.e. What are her fears that you can alleviate? What are the frustrations in her life that you can wash away? What hope can you fulfill?)
Ultimately, until you can get to the solvable pain that each of your personas experiences daily, weekly and monthly, you will not be able to build the most effective marketing strategy that reaches your customers and drives them to take action.
Change the Channel Please
Beth Comstock, a rockstar innovator and influential communicator, who served the last 10 years as GE’s chief marketing and commercial officer states that “we are all emotional beings looking for relevance, context and connection.” Once you’ve determined the pain of each persona, the next step towards relevant connection is to reach your customers across the various media channels each one is most likely to openly receive, or even seek out, when broadcasting your marketing communications.
Just as when aligning your personas with your SMART goals (see part one of this series), while each persona will have its own unique set of channels, it is likely that some of your personas will share marketing delivery channels.
For example, if you’re looking to increase team-building events with local companies and faith groups, you might choose an offline media channel like printed flyers that can be physically delivered to their administrative offices and headquarters. Or to boost open play on your slow Thursday afternoon, you might deliver social feed ads to moms and dads in your database or within your geographic radius as determined by Facebook’s algorithms.
Now, usually, at this point, I like to deliver a valuable, if unsolicited, public service announcement: A marketing channel is nothing more than a medium to connect with your customer in one more unique, personalized, human way. It is essential that you only communicate with each customer segment within the appropriate and relevant channels. Not only is this just the right, human-centric approach to take, but it also has the added benefit of limiting marketing fatigue and keeping your customers fresh, open, and willing to give attention to what you are throwing down.
Pick Your Poison
Once you’ve determined the relevant channels for each persona it’s time to choose the right software tools or partners that will reach your customers across each channel.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one single platform that addresses the needs of each channel delivery method. However, while the wide array of disparate tools can be frustrating, the benefit is that each tool is specifically tailored to meet each need that you are looking to address.
For example, if you want to send social media messages to one or more of your personas you can link up multiple social media accounts (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to Hootsuite and send your message across each social media service and even schedule those posts in advance.
There are myriad tools and platform options out there in the digital ocean and it may be wise to reach out to a local ad or marketing agency to help you navigate these waters and even expand your strategy. And if you’re looking for more relevant and focused expertise, there are a handful of great firms that serve our attractions and entertainment industry.
Running the Gauntlet
Alright, while fleshing out your purpose and your SMART goals was certainly not for the faint of heart, identifying your customer personas, understanding their pains, and choosing the channels to reach them is downright gritty and exhausting nuts and bolts work. But it is worth it.
Every ounce of energy devoted towards understanding the needs and desires of your customers and then figuring out how to reach each one will pay back tenfold once you execute the plan.
Chin up, my friends, the fun has just begun!
In the last article of this three-part series, we’ll determine what you will say to your customers and how you will review and refine each of the five steps along the way. Let’s finish strong baby!
With more than 12 years of executive leadership in sales, marketing and business operations, Brandon Willey has developed broad knowledge of the local digital marketing ecosystem with extensive experience in revenue growth, email and search marketing, social media, retargeting, geo-targeting, segmentation, automation, machine learning and more. To reach him, email [email protected].