marketing channelsWelcome to our Marketing Plan Tutorial blog series. With each entry, we go in depth into one of the elements of a successful marketing plan to help your business flourish.

This week, we'll touch on how to choose the best channel for your business based on your target market.

Marketing Plan Tutorial 1: Target Markets
Marketing Plan Tutorial 2: Value Proposition

Strength of marketing channels

There are many different marketing channels available to a business. A channel can be anything from email marketing to cold calls to an inbound marketing structure.

Each channel has its own pros and cons relative to other options, and it is up to you to decide what channel will give you the most reach and fulfill your end goal. A channel that works really well for one target market could have minimal effect on another market. The characteristics of your target market will, in the end, be the biggest decision factor in choosing a channel for your business.

Let's go back to the Best Bean example from previous entries. Best Bean now knows that a large segment of its customers enjoy reading, and they have also identified that local office workers are underserved by Best Bean’s competitors.

Using this information, Best Bean has decided to purchase advertising outside of the local bookstore, but that was all. Best Bean now wants to expand on its marketing for local readers, and also wants to do more to target office workers.

Diversifying the Strategy

Best Bean has decided on a 3-pronged approach to its marketing plan. Best Bean’s social media presence is negligible, so it is increasing their social media activity with frequent pictures of the staff serving customers, new products, and their baked goods.

The staff are also posting relevant news, and interacting with customers that like and follow the Best Bean page. By interacting with other people and businesses on social media, Best Bean is giving its business a voice and personality that people can interact with.

To complement the social media strategy, Best Bean has decided to expand the marketing efforts around the customer segment that enjoys reading. Best Bean has created a strategic partnership with the local bookstore designed to increase both stores' customer base.

For every purchase of over five dollars at the bookstore, the customer receives a single-use 5% discount card for Best Bean. Likewise, people that purchase food at Best Bean receive an identical 5% card for the local bookstore. By offering small discounts to target this segment for a limited time, Best Bean will be driving up its sales for the duration of the marketing partnership. Best Bean is also likely to see elevated sales and exposure to the reader segment for a long time after the partnership has ended.

Finally, since Best Bean wants to increase its exposure to local office workers, it delivered a stack of 10 discount cards per office. Since Best Bean is in an urban area with a large amount of offices, this encourages workers to try Best Bean rather than the competition. Since Best Bean has also improved the serving process and now works faster than the local competition, this removes a barrier for those office workers that might not visit Best Bean even with a 5% discount.

Variety is the Spice

Best Bean now has three different marketing tactics at work.

The social media work is a passive strategy that isn’t specifically targeted at one niche segment. Social media is extremely important to any business, but much more so to a business that is small and is relying on the local community for business.

The exchange with the local bookstore creates a strategic partnership that can be expanded or closed later in time. The discount cards will decrease the margin made by both Best Bean and the bookstore in the short term, but by offering the cards both businesses are encouraging new customers to try the business out. It is when the customer is in for the first time that Best Bean must work the hardest to convert that customer to a regular. If the first visit isn’t satisfactory, the chance of that customer returning is almost zero.

Lastly, Best Bean has put a large amount of work into expanding its business segment. It first identified that office workers didn’t purchase coffee from them because the serving process was inefficient and took too long. Best Bean refined the process, and then offered the discount cards to the local offices to encourage workers who had been frustrated by the slow waits before to try Best Bean one more time. Like the bookstore customers, it is in this time that Best Bean has to work the hardest to retain those customers.

What’s Up Next?

Next week, we will be touching on the importance of creating goals and performance indicators for your marketing. Goals are integral to any marketing plan, and can tell you if you are doing well or if your plan needs a shakeup. It is important to know what a realistic goal is for your business, so we will also be going over how to decide what is realistic and what is hopeful in terms of goals.