Green Biz Hacks

Small Business Marketing Hacks: Strategies for Reaching the Right Audience

By Megan Porter

Making a budget work harder is a primary concern for many small business owners. Marketing dollars especially have to be strategically allocated to see a strong return on the investment. That's why it's vital for small business owners to identify the most receptive audience for their communications. Reaching the right audience gives you the power to make a marketing budget go further for you.

Below you'll find several tips to help you start building a marketing strategy that has a specific audience in mind.

You can't know too much
The first step to marketing your small business is to learn everything you can. State and local governments offer a wealth of information and data regarding the people you'll be able to market to within your region. Trade groups, the Small Business Administration and community organizations can also provide useful insight. Once you have a foundation, you can begin to focus on the particular audience you want to reach.

A company website is critical
It's a shocking statistic, but more than half of small businesses don't have a website.1 Many small business owners, especially those in smaller communities, don't see the need. After all, word of mouth, walk-ins from street traffic and other strategies have adequately worked in the past.

However, a website does more than simply give your business a web presence. It gives you the chance to promote your business and expand your customer base. Plus, a website gives you access to marketing tools, such as Google Analytics, which can help you determine where your web traffic is coming from, what search terms people are using to find your business and where they found out about you. It's all valuable information when determining what products or services are gaining the most interest, or how a customer finds your business. A website doesn't have to be a major expense. It can be as complex or as streamlined as you like. But it's a critical component to learning who your best audience may be.

Claim your Google business listing
It's easy and completely free for small businesses to claim their business listing on Google. By verifying your business address, contact information and industry category, Google will index your information on the search engine, Google Maps and Google+ so customers can easily find you.

Monitor social media
Twitter, Facebook and other social media applications are the modern “word of mouth” media. Tracking what people are saying about your business, competitors or industry can offer insights into what certain market segments are looking for, and that can be extremely valuable when determining who might be your most receptive target customers. The enormous popularity of Facebook and its ability to turn millions of pieces of data into organized customer insights makes it a “must have” for small businesses.

Follow the 80/20 rule
Your most valuable audience is probably among your current customers. It typically takes much more time and money to capture new customers than to retain the ones you have. In fact, accord to the Pareto Principle, 80% of a business's revenue typically comes from 20% of its customers.2 So it makes fiscal sense to concentrate your marketing efforts on upselling or communicating to current customers, as well as focusing attention on creating a positive customer experience.

Market to your target audience in the most effective way
Not every group will respond to the same marketing in the same way. Age, gender, income level and more all come into play. If you find your product or service is best suited to a certain age or income level, you can make sure your marketing reflects that. By tailoring your marketing to the group most likely to be interested in what you offer, you can maximize the effectiveness of your marketing communications.

Create buyer personas
Take the time to develop buyer personas, both for your ideal customer and your current customer base. That may seem superfluous, but going through the exercise of figuring out exactly who you want to reach can help you pinpoint the most effective ways to reach them.

As a small business owner, you may not have the resources of a huge company — but you do have the advantage of being nimble and close to your customer base. Making sure you know who your best customers are will help you make the most of that advantage.

Looking for additional ways to make a small budget go far? Pacific Gas and Electric Company's "25 Money-Saving Tips for Businesses" eBook contains helpful tactics for reducing energy usage and creating a more energy efficient business.

  1. The Associated Press
  2. Forbes: The Pareto Principle

Four incentive program ideas to get employees to save energy. Learn more.
  • SMB Blog Author
    Megan Porter
    Senior Program Marketing Manager at PG&E, is a recognized leader in solutions marketing for small and medium-sized businesses. Megan uses her proven and practical expertise to bring energy efficiency education to businesses in every industry. In this vital role, she develops and oversees highly successful initiatives that result in the adoption of more efficient long-term energy management behaviors.

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