Decision making is a part of business success – it’s like laying the foundation upon which a house is to be built.
The decision you make either makes or mars your business. This is why it is important to get it right from the outset and once that is achieved every other thing falls into place.
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses crash even before taking off simply because something went wrong with their foundations – this usually as a result of choosing the wrong marketing channel.
Typically, as a brand new business that is starting for the first time, you need to observe the market properly before taking a leap to avoid crashing and losing all your investment.
It’s true that the field of marketing is filled with challenges, but you could lessen the problems if you know exactly what to do and where to start from.
Here’s the good news…
…Getting things right is not rocket science; you just have to know what marketing channels work for your type of business, and which one will be a waste of time and money. This will enable you to make an informed decision.
However, before we move ahead with this discussion, we need to understand first what marketing channels are.
What Are Marketing Channels?
Marketing channels are the various ways through which you can get in touch with your clients, customers, volunteers or donors. Some of the most popular channels used today are:
- Blogs or websites
- E-mail newsletters
- Print/direct mail
- Social media
All the channels when used well, can drive enormous amount of traffic to your site. However, there are three fundamental questions you need to ask yourself before deciding on which marketing channel to chose.
According to Neil Patel,
“By asking all three questions in order, we’ll get to the exact answer you’re looking for.”
Here are all three questions in order:
Who are your customers?
Where do they hang out?
What marketing channel should you start with to reach them?”
Who Are Your Customers?
First, it’s important to know who is going to patronize your service or buy your product. You can take a few easy steps to get to know your prospective customers.
Pick one person that is likely to buy your product as soon as you start. Let’s assume you want to start a motor mechanic workshop in Chicago. We can be more specific with the kind of cars you want to repair.
Let’s say you are starting a workshop for Toyota cars in Roscoe Village because that’s your place of abode, and you will be repairing the different models of Toyota cars in the area.
Now, your customer’s name is Tim. He is a businessman who also stays in Roscoe Village but does his business in Hyde Park, goes to the place about five times per week and drives a Toyota Camry (2015 model).
The business also takes him out to New York City once a week.
Now, we only used Tim to define who your ideal customer is. But Tim is not the only customer you’re targeting, but you’re also targeting other people driving any Toyota model in the area including Tim’s friends and families.
Where Do They Hang Out?
We already have an idea who your target customer is and the physical place he stays in. But that’s not enough; we need to know the places where he and his friends hang out online.
For this customer, his hanging place is the Toyota Community on Facebook, and you can also see many of his friends living in the same area in the same Facebook community.
What Marketing Channel Should You Employ To Reach Them?
Having known your customers and where they hang out, the next thing is to know the right marketing channel to use to reach them. Different marketing channels could be utilized, but you need to find out which one is best suited to your need.
Neil Patel advises that you should concentrate on one even though there could be more than one good channel at a time. He simply feels it’s better to know a channel, study it and master it in order to dominate it.
So, how do you go about this?
1. Start marketing where your customers are
Here’s the best thing to do.
Since you’ve already done your research on your customers, you should take the marketing right to where they are – right to their door steps.
In this case, you can start from the Facebook group where your customers are hanging out or to any other social network where you’ve been able to trace them. This way, it’s easy to market to the right person without much stress.
And since that’s the target audience, the likelihood of them buying from you or patronizing you will be quite high.
2. Start with “Hand-to-Hand” Guerilla Marketing
This is a great strategy that’s proven to work really fine. Sometimes, word of mouth marketing works like magic; nothing beats contacting people randomly (cold-calling) or walking up to them and convincing to believe in what you offer.
According to Eric Siu of ‘Singlegrain,’
“Almost always, without fail, the answer is hand-to-hand combat. It’s going out there knocking on doors, cold-calling and e-mailing people directly.”
A lot of companies adopt this strategy because their first 100 customers really matter.
However, getting it right with the first 100 customers equally means getting it right with the first 1000 customer, and the chain continues.
Unfortunately, starting with the first wrong 100 customers would eventually kill your business.
If you are testing a new product, it is easy to test it with the people around you to see if they would want it rather than hiring a developer for a huge sum of money to help with the research.
If the people turn out to love the product, they are likely to recommend it to their friends and family members.
3. Interview your audience to find out what marketing channels they prefer
This is another yet effective way of choosing your marketing channel. Since people of different age groups don’t fall for the same bait, it’s good to develop excellent communication skills that will enable you to reach each of the audiences with the right message targeted at them.
According to Valerie Neumark’s post on Rootid.com,
“Stakeholder interviews and surveys are an extremely effective way to learn more about your audience. At Rootid we prefer interviews, since you can “read between the lines” when chatting with people.”
6 Things To Think Of When Choosing a Marketing Channel
There are six common questions you should ask before finally settling for a marketing channel.
The questions are:
1. What if two or more good marketing channels exist?
When two or more good channels exist, you can decide to choose just one. Don’t make things clumsy, and don’t try to carry too many things along at the same time.
Why should you choose one channel? This is because:
- It will be less expensive
- You can easily learn it
- Getting result with it is faster
2. How much is the cost of the channel?
Money is hard to get. So, when starting out, you need to consider cost. If you are presented with options, you have to go for the channel that would cost the least money to run.
If the money is not there, you can start with a free channel but consider other good marketing channels when you eventually have some money to invest.
3. How much time does the channel require?
Some marketing channels need more time than the others. For instance, it would take a longer time to compose an excellent blog post than it does to prepare and send out a direct mail or set up a campaign on Twitter. However, the channel you choose should depend on how much time is available at your disposal.
4. How long will it take to see results?
Getting a fast result means investing a bigger sum of money. The time it will take to get results on Twitter is faster, but it is cheaper to run a blog.
If you need the result quickly, it means spending more money on running campaigns on Twitter or any other reliable social media.
5. What’s the learning curve?
Whatever channel you choose would certainly take some time to learn. This is because, according to researchers, learning a new skill takes up to 10,000 hours.
In choosing a channel, therefore, you need to consider a channel that is easy to understand but capable of giving you the right result you need, at the right time.
However, investing a moderate amount of time in learning the marketing channel would be okay.
6. Some channels have hidden learning hurdles
You may end up learning some other skills before progressing to the real channel you have chosen to use.
For instance, to be able to use a blog for marketing, you may be required to learn SEO and content creation/marketing before you can do the blogging well.
To use Instagram for marketing, you may need first to learn what Instagram is all about. That may be what you never envisaged before choosing the channel.
Nevertheless, whatever amount of time you invest in learning the different foundational layers will eventually be a blessing to you in the long run.
To be able to market effectively to your audience, you need to know who they are, where they hang out, and the right marketing channel to use.
You must also remember that marketing requires investing time and money as well as learning one or two new skills.
When you see a channel, learn everything you can about it, master it and then add another. It is better to master a channel first and dominate it before adding another one to it. It is also important to ensure your hosting plan can carry all the traffic that will come to your site once your chosen marketing channel start yielding result.