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Finding and connecting with new clients and customers
by Peter Searle

Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Business development, Networking, Social Media, Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Pay per click and Sales. What a mine field for a small business and with so many companies offering advice what should you do? It has got harder in the last 10 years with the proliferation of the Internet. Putting the basics into context in the Internet age will save you wasting time with the wrong solution.

Let’s start with what you do. Are you providing a service or product? Are you providing it to other businesses or to many consumers? We immediately have four categories. Product or service for either Business to Business or Business to consumer. Within each of these categories there is then a range of complexity. In the simplest case a transaction will occur between a seller and a buyer where the seller promotes their service or product and the buyer simply selects it based upon how well it fits their needs, price, convenience of location to purchase and knowledge of the service or product. An example of this would be purchasing an everyday product at a local shop. In classic marketing terms, this is known as the 4 P’s Product, Price, Place & Promotion. In more complex situations more research is carried out and trusting relationships are formed e.g. procuring expensive professional services, like lawyers and architects. 3 more P’s were added to cover the additional complexity with consideration to People, Processes and Physical evidence. Thus, the 7P’s were founded.

Given that services and products are ultimately purchased by people, it makes sense to design the promotion of the service or product to match the target market and communicate the proposition via a channel they will use. Traditionally this has been carried out by segmenting the market by demographics e.g. age, gender, occupation, social class, marital status, family life stage, family size, income, education, home ownership, ethnicity and religion. In the case of business to business you should target a “job role for a type of business” regardless of the person’s personal characteristics.

With the advent of the internet the number of communication channels continues to increase. So, where does this leave the 7P’s? Essentially, you still must find the target market you have identified, or create the relationships. Now there are different channels to utilise in different ways. So, the 7P’s have been extended to 15P’s to cover social media and advertising algorithms on the internet. The 15p’s include Privacy, Personal Interest, Personal Social Networks, Public Commentary, Personalization, Participation, Peer to Peer and Predictive Modelling.

That said, the fundamentals have not changed. Choose your market, carefully segment to identify targets and then use the most appropriate communication channels to create awareness or start a relationship. The internet has simply added several hundred more channels but your targets will only be using a small number, so identify them and don’t disregard the pre-internet channels, lots of people still use them. Once a match has been achieved all that remains, is to make the sale. This will occur naturally when there is a good match between the needs of the buyer and what the provider offers.

 

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