When a business first starts, there is usually a target audience in mind. This segment can be based on a variety of factors like location, preferences, gender, or other demographics.
As operations evolve, however, the original target market may shift. Extenuating circumstances like a pandemic will also curb how a company approaches marketing.
This trend can be seen in almost every industry on the planet. Consider a female clothing store that expands its line to include men. That’s going to require an entirely different marketing strategy. The same can be said for a restaurant that decides to include vegan or gluten-free options. Their target audience will become the people looking for those offerings.
When the opportunity to expand presents itself, you need to grab the bull by the horns! That starts with identifying your target market, getting out of your comfort zone, and understanding exactly how to talk to new people. Here, we’ll look at a few ways to find new leads and how to approach them.
Identifying Your Target Market
To sell outside of your target market, you must first understand what that is. It starts with examining the existing customer base. Take a long hard look at the people that already buy from you. Even if they look like a diverse bunch, the chances are they share one or two traits. If not, perhaps a shared interest is the common thread.
You want to find that thread and pull it.
When researching target markets, it’s important to start broad, but become increasingly granular. For example, you may start with homeowners as a potential target, but when you drill down, you discover it’s actually homeowners, with younger children, earning a specific income. The level of granularity makes it much easier to tailor messaging that appeals to these individuals.
Once you have a general understanding of your regular target market, you can seek audiences outside of that persona.
When to Start Looking
There are many instances that can trigger your search for new markets. When your pipeline starts to show more upsell opportunities than new badge, it may be time to switch gears.
If you find yourself making multiple attempts to nurture existing prospects, or you seem to be hitting a dead-end, you might not be talking to the right people.
Researching new verticals can also be about finding the loophole. Industries that have compliance changes are a great opportunity for IT products and services. When compliance changes, for example, in healthcare and banking, network security becomes more of an issue. You can then focus on those changes to target new customers.
The more customers you have, the more personal you must be. It’s almost inversely proportional. Buyers want personal attention these days and if they sense they are another number, they probably won’t become a customer.
Connecting to people on a personal level is huge. You should be capitalizing on any interaction that you can. It really comes down to a trust issue. It’s about finding the people that need your product/services, attaching yourself to them, and engaging them on a personal basis.
Larry Benson, Marketing Specialist at Network Consulting Services Inc., put it best:
“Think about it like you're going for a job interview. If you're sitting in somebody's office and you can see that they've got pictures of sailboats on their wall, you can somehow identify with that person and pick a topic that's going to make you stand out and make you a candidate.”
One fine-tuned strategy is to focus on your best lead or ideal client and reverse engineer it to figure out what makes that person unique. Then, try and duplicate that.
If you like what you're doing, it will show, and if you're genuinely interested in people, that will come through. As Larry stated, “we're going to have to get really creative in how we interact and making sure that we feel comfortable with people, that there's some sort of digital handshake that is honored.”
Think Outside the Box
Consider marketing materials that would hold your interest. It’s probably not a wall of text. Get rid of the standard PowerPoint presentations. Nobody’s paying attention anymore. Interactive videos and webinars that include audience participation will keep people more engaged; for longer periods of time.
Mr. Benson suggested taking it a step further, “We did a hot wings challenge in the middle of our presentation. And our presenter, every five minutes, would have to continually eat a hotter, spicier hot wing as they were giving their presentation. And it was funny. We had so much interaction. We had 60 people on a call that we're all commenting. It was successful.”
Not only is a hot wings challenge thinking outside of the box, it’s a memorable event that people will talk about for years.
Automated Lead Generation
Finding leads in a new market is always tough. Nobody really likes cold calls or door knockers. It's really about targeting a specific lead and making sure that’s the right person. Software-based lead generation can bridge that gap. It allows a business to dial in the criteria of their choosing, and then track the success of those metrics.
Consider spreadsheets a thing of the past. Using software to track success is helpful in recognizing how a business is breaking into new markets. As Larry Benson offered:
“Lead generation campaigns have been really tough until Relevize. I was amazed at the number of good leads and the caliber of the leads. Software-based lead generation helps us track leads, know a little bit more about that person, make sure that they're the right fit, and know if it's worth taking them to dinner.”
Once you have a few good leads in your new target market, what’s the most effective way to reach them? Here are a few different avenues to consider:
A/B test your target audience with email campaigns. They generally have a low cost, with a high return. Your existing customer base will provide a wealth of information to help you better approach a new market.
Social media marketing is a great way to introduce your brand to a new market. Use it to reach your ideal customers in a new vertical, and build a connection. Finding a new customer is all about being a part of their community.
One way to personally connect with new leads is directly through text messaging. This allows you to easily send bulk messages to a segmented group. It also offers a more individualized and direct approach to accessing new customers.
Summing it Up
In order for a business the grow, they have to change what they are doing. Only rarely does a company evolve without adapting its operations to new challenges. The same goes when searching for new leads in foreign markets.
There is no wrong way to find new leads, but there are smarter ways of doing it. It requires a personal approach, with a touch of technology. A good salesman is an excellent study of people, with a treasure trove of resources. You need to consistently stay abreast of the best tools, and know how to properly employ them.
Larry’s analogy about automated lead generation using Relevize sums it up perfectly:
“Our sales team is great at taking the ball from an opposite 25-yard line and all the way down the field for a touchdown. But it's those 1st 20 yards, 25 yards that are the hardest. And so when somebody hands us the ball right there, then it's a lot easier to get it down the field.”
Learning people’s history and new things about them, while finding a tool that works, is a tough nut to crack, but when it’s a success? It’s greatly rewarding. However, you’ll never know unless you step outside your comfort zone.