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360* Marketing, Part 2: Reach Your Market

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A few weeks ago, I wrote the first of a five part series. In "360* Marketing, Part 1: Principles behind marketing," we set the groundwork for turning your marketing strategies into success stories and loyal customers. In part two, we'll explore the ways in which you can reach your market. In this day and age, targeting your market isn't enough; you need to reach your market. Targeting your market means to turn one's attention to a group of people. Reaching your market goes beyond the status quo, from turning one's attention to a group of people to extending a hand, taking a pro-active approach to marketing.

Imagine yourself in a suite at the Diamond Resorts International in Italy. They have built an excellent customer service platform and they go all out in hospitality to make your stay simple. They truly know the meaning of yes and how to accommodate their guests. Now picture yourself in Florence. The town square is filled with locals, tourists, gypsies, and relentless street vendors selling overpriced paintings, bracelets and greeting cards. You glance at a painting for five seconds to long and before you know it, a guy that you don't even know is following you like white on rice. He's just as annoying as Fabio, the telemarketer who calls during American Idol, a second before they announce the winner. Targeting your market focuses on the sale, while reaching your market focuses on building relationships, customer service and feedback, going out of your way to accommodate a customer, follow up, and setting the stage for the future. For those of you who want to be less like that creepy Italian street vendor and more like Diamond Resorts International, here are five steps to reaching your market.

Know Your Product. Reaching your market starts with knowing your product. You'd be surprised how many people I've come across who don't know what they're selling. Reaching your market comes from knowing your product inside and out. By reaching the right people you improve your chances in gaining traction and selling your product. I used to hear a saying, which applies to business, "A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pews." If you don't know your product inside and out, how do you expect your customers to?

Know who You're Reaching. Once you know your product inside and out, you can then determine who you are trying to reach. In my role as both an entrepreneur and a consumer, I've seen many people take the half hazard marketing approach. The more you try to reach everyone, the more likely you'll reach no one. By trying to reach everyone, you waste time, resources, leads and opportunities. Facebook, now a multi-billion dollar company, started with college students and then started reaching high schools and adults. Your product may address more than one market and that is fine. Determining who you're going to reach first should be based on the quality of the product, relevance, and product readiness.

Build Relationships. Targeting your market is about numbers and the sale; reaching your marketing is about building relationships. When it's just about the numbers and sales both the business and the customer lose. The company loses customers, valuable feedback, and future opportunities. The customer often loses in quality, support, and their problems being addressed. In the end, building relationships is the difference between coming to you and going to a competitor. No one wants to feel like a number. Building relationships should go beyond marketing; it should be etched into your philosophy of doing business. Business is more than numbers, it's about people.

The Sell. When negotiating for the price of a car, the salesperson will often lower the price to make the customer feel like they are doing them a favor, then the customer feels obligated to buy the car. Great marketers know how to speak to people's emotions when making the sell. Grocery stores put the foods we crave the most in checkout lines to take advantage of impulse buying. If you're like me, it's hard to resist three musketeer bars at checkout. Studies show that chocolate triggers love, comfort, and happiness by releasing the neurotransmitters serotonin and endorphins, among other things. Reaching your market isn't about deceiving or hurting your customer and it's not about the sale itself; it's about building a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.

Follow Up. Apple is well known for reaching their market because they realize that reaching their market doesn't stop when your customer buys a product. They go above and beyond the status quo to serve their customers, from initial customer interest, to the transaction, and on to customer support. Following up with your customers builds relationships and sets the stage for the future. When I bought my laptop from HP a year ago, they called me shortly after to see if I liked the laptop and to answer any questions I had. Out of all the laptops I've owned, HP was the only one who followed up with me. Because of this, I am more likely to go back to HP and refer their products to friends. Following up with your customers can be anything from sending them an email, calling them, or writing them and ranges from asking how they are, how they like the product, and what you can do to improve the product. The follow up brings the customer experience to a full circle.

In 360* Marketing, Part 3: Strategies Behind Marketing, we will discover marketing strategies that will help you reach your market.

The first part of this series can be read here.