"Niche Marketing: Maximising Your Marketing Investment"
By Simon Cope
"If you market to everyone, your customer will be no one." This is an old saying that is as true today as it was when it was first spoken. Spa and Pool business owners waste an immense amount of their marketing dollars mass advertising on radio, television, and in print to blast their message to the entire marketplace. This is commonly referred to as "spraying and praying" in the marketing world.
The Solution: Niche Marketing
Niche marketing on the other hand, allocates a smaller portion of your marketing budget on building a list of likely prospects and then investing the rest on converting those prospects into customers. This result is a more effective use of your precious marketing dollars and a much higher prospect to customer conversion rate -- not to mention a significant increase in referrals.
By definition, niche marketing is narrowing your marketing efforts to a group(s) of prospects that have a high likelihood of being interested in purchasing your product or service. Basically, there are two types of niches, (1) business occupations such as accountant's or teachers and (2) "sub-cultures" such as people with arthritis, or people who like to take holidays. Once you come to intimately know the niches you've selected to market to, your ability to convert prospects into customers becomes infinitely easier.
Your Six Step Niche Marketing Program
Setting up your own spa and pool niche marketing program is simple using the following six step process. Each step in the process is important to the ultimate success of your niche marketing program. There are no shortcuts to niche marketing success.
Step 1 - Choose a Niche
When choosing a profitable niche to market to make sure that it's one that you can easily contact by mail. A good choice would be a niche in which mailing lists are readily available. Your niche should be one that communicates amongst itself through community groups or events. It helps if your niche suffers from problems that a spa or pool solves and that your niche already understands the benefits of a spa or pool. Lastly, ensure that your niche has the money to purchase a high ticket item such as a spa or pool.
Perhaps the easiest method of choosing a niche is to review your customer list and look for groups of people in the same occupation or subculture groups. The beauty of this method is that the niche you choose has already proven that they want a spa or pool.
Potential niches that you might consider are mature adults who suffer from arthritis, type II diabetes, or insomnia. Upper income people who experience back or neck pain problems or professionals who have high stress jobs such as lawyers, surgeons, teachers, and police officers.
Step 2 - Develop your Marketing Message
Once you've chosen your niche your next step is to develop the marketing message that you will deliver to your prospects. To develop your message you'll need to know what problems or issues they are facing? What results are they looking for? And what is it about your service or approach that is going to interest them and make them remember you?
Materials you should expect to develop are a lead generation special report. The special report can be 5-10 pages in length and should, (1) identify your prospect's problem, (2) create a mental picture of the negative effects of the problem, and (3) talk about the benefits of owning a spa or pool and how it will solve their problem. This special report can be in written form or better yet, an audio cassette/CD or video/DVD.
You'll also need to create two salesletters. One salesletter will be for promoting the free report and the other for presenting an irresistible offer on a spa or pool. You should also create a "What People Are Saying…" testimonial book that contains endorsements from people in your niche with accompanying pictures of them using their spa or pool.
Lastly, you'll need a brochure. But not a standard manufacturers brochure -- one that is custom developed for your niche. So if you chose to market to people with arthritis and police officers, you should develop two different brochures that include messages specifically targeted to the needs of your niches. The brochure doesn't have to be glossy and expensive. But it does need to talk directly to your niche.
Step 3 - Obtain or Generate a List of Prospects
Your list of prospects is the most valuable element of your niche marketing program. First, look for existing lists of niche prospects. For example, if you're targeting lower arthritis sufferers you might buy a list of local subscribers to "Arthritis Today" magazine. If you chose lower back pain sufferers and couldn't find an existing list, consider doing a deal with local chiropractors or massage therapists to do mailings to each other's respective customer lists.
To get more ideas on how to create or purchase lists of people in your niche market buy Richard Weylman's book, "Endless Prospects: 301 Tactics to Reach Hard-to-Reach People." I also suggest speaking with a good local list broker.
Step 4 - Contact your Niche
It's time to assemble your marketing message and send it to your niche market. This will be done in two steps. First, send your salesletter offering your free special report. Ask your prospects to respond by calling you to order their free report. The next step is to send the special report to those who responded to your mail out and combine it with an irresistible offer on a spa or pool.
To dramatically increase response to your direct mailings you should phone them to introduce yourself and follow up your mailer.
WARNING: This step is a common area where many business owners either cheat or skip altogether by just sending a one-step offer to the list. People are tired of one-step, "in your face" marketing. They want to be courted first. By sending good, non-sales type valuable information you'll be establishing a warm relationship, which will prepare your prospect for your offer.
Step 5 - Follow up
Following up with your prospects is key! 98% of all business owners rarely follow up after their first mailing yet studies have shown that a prospect needs to see you and your offer at least three times to make an impact.
Using contact management software you can program in your mailing sequence so that once you've entered a prospect's name, the software will remind you every day what mailers you need to send out and to whom. Using contact management software will put the entire mailing process on autopilot so that your lowest level employee will be able to run the entire program by himself.
Step 6 - Develop a Niche Referral Program
Now that you've taken the effort to establish your niche marketing program you should leverage your efforts by implementing a systematic referral program. Remember when I mentioned that it was important to choose a niche that communicates amongst itself? This is why! If you've created a happy customer they will begin to talk to others in your niche.
For example, if you've targeted members of a retiree group such as SeniorNet in your city, they will start to talk about you in their monthly meetings and informal get-togethers. You can multiply this by incentivising your customers in some way as to motive them to tell their friends.
Be sure to make your referral program "systematic" so that it is an established process in your business that gets measured and for which people get compensated based on results. For instance, you might consider awarding free services or products to customers in your niche that write a personal endorsement letter to two friends. You provide the endorsement letter template and they provide their testimonial and two friends.
There is a misconception that if you narrow your target market that there will be fewer prospects to market to; however, you'll find the opposite to be true. Once you begin to tailor your message to the specific needs of your niche and you begin to receive word-of-mouth advertising within your niche, new customers will come out of the woodwork. In fact, your customer base will actually expand.
To be competitive during the economic slowdown you need to consider new methods and marketing techniques to reach more high quality prospects. Niche marketing is a proven way to uncover new prospects, increase closing rates, and boost referrals.
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