Q Everyone loves my boutique when they visit it. However, my advertising efforts have not resulted in enough new business to justify the expense. How do I identify my target market and the advertising venue that will best reach them?
IN THE PARK
A The current economic downturn is hurting everyone, and your experience is shared by many businesses. Marketing is the art and science of creating, communicating and delivering something of value to customers. And in these tough times, you need to be prudent, yet creative with your efforts.
I suggest you play off of your strength. The fact that people who visit your boutique are often customers indicates that you have a differentiated product. Your real tasks are getting people to your boutique and, once they get there, increasing your boutique's share of their wallet.
Not knowing what advertising you currently do, I can only suggest evaluating whether you are using appropriate media to reach your target market, whether you are maintaining appropriate frequency in your messaging and whether your messages are exciting enough to generate consideration.
As for identifying your target market, if you maintain a database of your current customers, I would try to find out what is common to all of them in terms of their age group, income levels, education, location and interests. This will allow you to come up with a tentative "profile" of your target customer, which may make it easier for you to reach them through promotional efforts.
As for promoting your boutique, I would make use of your satisfied customers and turn them into brand ambassadors. Give incentives to your current customers for spreading your message by word-of-mouth or bringing in new customers. Offer small discounts for friends and family members of your current customers to increase traffic. You may also advertise the various occasions where your boutique may serve as an ideal location, e.g., parties, small gatherings etc.
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MARKETING,
UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS
OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS