Don’t apply a one-size-fits-all approach to your marketing

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A common mistake many companies make is taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach to their marketing efforts. In other words, the company comes up with one marketing strategy, uses mass marketing techniques and the same messages for everyone who sees its ads. Yes, that’s a simple approach and saves you the time and effort required to tailor your messages to specific sub-target groups. But if you want to maximize your return on marketing spend, that extra upfront investment in building customer personas (sub-target groups) and a customer journey (from the top funnel to the bottom funnel) will pay off big time. So don’t be penny wise in the short term and pound foolish in the long term. The more you personalize your messages for the exact purpose and where they are in the buying process, the more it will help you focus your marketing efforts on steroids. This post will help you learn how to do just that.

What is a customer persona?

A customer persona is the sub-audience of users who buy your product or service. If you’re a consumer business, that might be male vs. female buyers, or older buyers vs. younger buyers, or what target products they’re most interested in (e.g., coffee drinkers vs. tea drinkers). If you are a B2B company, they might be customers from one industry or another, or buyers at different levels of the organization (e.g. executives versus lower level managers) or companies of different sizes (e.g. enterprise versus small business ). Each of these sub-target groups should receive marketing messages from you that are directly relevant to them.

What is the customer journey?

The customer journey is the path through which a customer researches, considers, and ultimately purchases products or services. A customer who is researching to find out what they need is usually in the top funnel, a customer who knows what they want and is considering different vendors or solutions is the middle funnel, and a customer who is price shopping and ready to to pull the trigger is the bottom funnel. Why is that important? Your marketing messages should be tailored to where they are in their customer journey.

Someone in the upper funnel needs to know why they need a solution in the first place, someone in the mid-funnel needs to know that your product is better than others in the market, and someone in the lower funnel can be incentivized by a promotional offer to save 10% if they buy before the end of the month.

And the marketing tools you use to communicate with them will differ: from mass marketing tactics (e.g. TV, radio, print, search engines) for the top funnel to one-to-one marketing tactics (e.g. emails, phone calls). for the lower funnel. So knowing your customer journey and which mediums are best for communicating with your targets is a critical part of personalizing your marketing messages.

I wrote this article mastering your marketing funnel and media mix can assist you in this process.

What does personalizing marketing actually mean?

Personalizing your marketing means you need different marketing ads for each sub-target audience. Say you have three core personas and three stages of the marketing funnel, that’s a total of nine different creatives to create (not just one). And in those ads, use images and text that really resonate with that sub-audience. So if you’re talking to men, use male models in your ads. If you speak to older people, include older people in your ads. If you’re pushing a specific industry use case, talk to that industry expertise in your creatives. When speaking to executives, promote the strategic benefits of your product, versus the more tactical features that would be better promoted to lower-level employees. You get the point – don’t spray and pray. Be laser-focused with your targeting and messaging, and good things should happen to accelerate your sales.

What can you expect from personalization?

With each layer of personalization, you can expect to increase your conversion rate and ultimately your sales. As an example, let’s say the one-size-fits-all approach allows you to convert 10% of your leads. By layering on the customer personas, you can potentially convert 20% of your leads. And by further layering your customer journey messaging, you may be able to convert 30% of your leads. The better you sharpen your pencil, the higher your resulting earnings will be. Any good marketing agency can help you here.

Tracking is critical

Setting up the customer personas, journey and creatives is only part of the exercise. The other part is tracking the results of each of those sub-targets. So when setting up your campaigns, tracking URLs, or other conversion metrics, make sure you have the right tagging and tracking in place so that your CRM can easily see how the different personas are performing in driving sales. You may learn that each persona behaves the same way and deserves equal attention. Or maybe you learn that certain personas perform better than others, and that they require your extra attention and budget, diverting your efforts from your other underperforming personas. So in all cases the devil is in the details and you need to track and optimize everything.

Closing thoughts

The concepts presented in this post are “tabletop interests” in the marketing world, and it amazes me how many startup companies have absolutely no idea about them. If you don’t, you may be wasting a lot of your marketing dollars. Or at least not getting an ROI as high as you ultimately should be. So hire a strong marketing team or engage a strong marketing agency for your business. They can help lay the groundwork here and ultimately put you on the path to maximum marketing success. Good luck!!

George Deeb is a partner at Red Rocket Ventures and author of 101 Startup Lessons – An Entrepreneur’s Handbook.