IncubatorCTX is an entrepreneurial hub that helps startups and early-stage companies grow and succeed. Located on the beautiful campus of Concordia University Texas, IncubatorCTX hosts a speaker series, where entrepreneurs and industry experts share their insights with the community.
On March 5, Greg Fitzgerald, CEO of Cyberforce Security, shared valuable insights into finding the right customers. He has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, serving in various roles such as director of marketing, vice president of marketing and chief marketing officer.
Lesson 1: Understand Your Audience with Marketing Personas
To develop a successful marketing strategy, you must first understand to whom you will be marketing. It's standard procedure to establish a target market (a specific group of customers most likely to buy your product). But Fitzgerald encourages marketers to get more specific.
He recommends that marketers establish marketing personas, which are fictional "characters" who represent specific groups within your target market. These personas give you a better understanding of the people in your target market and, therefore, insight into the best ways to reach them with messages that are relevant to them.
Lesson 2: Differentiate Your Product
Fitzgerald's first job after graduate school was with the Coca-Cola Company. He conducted a test where he took the wrapper off of a bottle of water and challenged teams of his co-workers to come up with ways to set the bottle of water apart from competing brands (a concept called differentiation).
Over three years of more than 30 tests, not one team came up with the same way to differentiate the bottle of water because they all focused on different types of customers.
"Anything can be differentiated if you understand who your audience is," Fitzgerald said.
Lesson 3: Apply the "Who" to the "Why"
Once you know who your audience is, begin to understand why they would be interested in purchasing your product. Massive amounts of customer data are available, and from this data, you can glean insights into the problems customers may face, their purchasing behavior and more. You can also talk directly to potential customers, asking them why they would or wouldn't buy your product.
"Don't focus on attributes that don't matter," Fitzgerald stated. "If you know the customer has three dogs, but your product has nothing to do with animals, it's irrelevant." The goal of finding out the "whys" is to determine the features and benefits of your product to emphasize that will influence your customers to purchase it.
Lesson 4: Go Where the People Are
Today's customers want organizations to meet them where they are. Fitzgerald shared an example of marketing a high-tech security product to company executives (e.g., chief information officer, chief strategy officer, etc.).
Fitzgerald and his team determined that these executives travel to major conferences and other events, so they spend time in airports. They launched an advertising campaign, displaying ads for their product in major airports when major conferences and relevant events took place.
The campaign was a success, and customers reported seeing the advertisements everywhere.
If your customers primarily use Facebook, you shouldn't focus your marketing efforts on Instagram. Through a better understanding of the "who" and "why" of your customers, you will learn how to reach them.
Lesson 5: Guide the Customer through the Buyer Journey
Because everyone is inundated with so many marketing messages, people now have to see an advertisement multiple times before they recognize it and begin the buyer journey.
There are three main phases of the buyer journey, and each phase requires a unique combination of messaging.
- Awareness - A customer becomes aware of a problem or opportunity.
- Customer: A man's single-cup coffee machine breaks down. He's desperate for coffee.
- Company: Company A sells coffee machines that offer both single-cup and carafe brewing options. They promote a blog post on social media that explains five benefits of drinking coffee, including ways Company A's machines maintain these health benefits.
- Consideration - A customer decides to address the problem or opportunity and begins
to evaluate different product options.
- Customer: A man decides which type of coffee machine he wants. The single-cup system he had worked, but he wants the option of brewing an entire carafe of coffee.
- Company: Across its social media platforms, Company A posts engaging videos of their coffee machines that offer single-cup and carafe brewing. The customer also sees a billboard on his commute home that features Company A's machine and emphasizes its capability for single-cup and carafe brewing.
- Decision - A customer compares products/services to determine which product/service
offers the best solution to the problem or opportunity.
- Customer: The man researches and compares brands of coffee machines that offer both single-brew and carafe options. Based on brand, price, features and reviews, the man selects and purchases a new coffee machine.
- Company: Company A posts a link on its social media platforms that leads to customer reviews of their machines. When the man in need of coffee clicks on the reviews, a coupon pops up that offers 20% off his entire order.
You can leverage the information you have about your target market and the marketing personas to determine the best ways to guide potential customers through the buyer's journey.
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