Q We are a small two-person team that develops educational applications for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and Mac. Apparently, our largest demographic is students, and we want to find a way to reach our them with absolutely no marketing dollars.
Do you have any methods or suggestions on how we can get our message out to our student market for free?
A As a new and growing brand, it is critical that you spend some time getting to know your target market. Build a few personal relationships with your current customers. After all, who knows better than they do how you can best cut through the noise to reach them, their friends, and others who would share their passion for your brand?
Start by recruiting 15 to 20 current customers for an online focus group. You can create a private area in a social networking site and invite the recruited customers to join. Then, over 5 to 10 days you can post questions, get feedback, probe and redirect the discussion with participants encouraged to respond at least 2 or 3 times per day.
At a minimum, you should ask your focus group what you do best; what the competition does better; what they would like to see you do; how they heard about you, and when they share information about you and similar products with their friends.
From the focus group, you'll gain a better understanding of exactly why your customers favor your products, what they consider noise and how to break through to your target market.
As you analyze the insights gathered in the focus group, craft exactly what you want your brand to mean to your target market relative to your competition (direct and otherwise).
This brand position should drive all of your marketing decisions, because this is what will give your brand its edge over me-too products. A little free market research should take you a long way.
UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS
OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS