You know what never ceases to amaze me? The fact that there are small business marketing lessons to be learned from every experience we have in life. No matter how bad or abstract the experience may seem, I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.
Some experiences may not directly be marketing lessons however the ripple effect that those initial experiences cause may be delivering them to you – you just have to train your eye to notice them.
Case in point: my recent car accident
Recently I was in a car accident and my doctor just as a precaution recommended that I get some x-rays taken – now don’t worry, I’m okay. Anyway, since x-rays aren’t something that I typically get or think about every day, I didn’t know of anyone who provided that service; so my doctor kindly recommended an x-ray provider to me. Now of course I gladly followed his referral and gave my business to the provider he recommended. Why? Because the referral came from a trusted advisor, my doctor. Over the years of serving me, he has clearly positioned himself to me as an expert and an authority figure on health. Additionally, he has established a lot of credibility with me.
Without his referral, I would have basically selected a provider based on my own preferences, prejudices, and filters – things such as their location, the fact that they take my insurance, they could give me an appointment when I wanted it, and even down to the what may seem more to some as silly, but very real criteria of liking the location, a cool business name, I’ve heard of them somewhere before, a cool website, intuition, etc. Now take note here that the referral superseded most of my very important conscious and subconscious criteria.
Are you beginning to see the power of all the different marketing lessons at work here? In this case study alone, we’ve got lessons on positioning, credibility, referrals and more – All of which are critical keys to effective marketing.
However there’s one key lesson that I’d like to drill down on a bit further here and that’s understanding and marketing yourself to your real target market. Let’s explore this further continuing with the x-ray provider as our model. Now if most people are like me, and I’m guessing they probably are, x-rays aren’t something that most people get or think about every day and so we typically would go wherever our doctor recommended to get them done. So if that’s the case and I’m an x-ray provider, wouldn’t it make sense to market to and align myself with other medical practices whose clients need my services? In essence, the x-ray provider’s target market is really other medical practices that could refer them not the actual patients they serve. However, they do need to make sure they deliver on the customer service side of the equation because believe me, if they don’t, there’s a good chance the referring doctor will hear about it. Negative feedback tends to travel much faster than positive feedback and negative feedback could stop those referrals in a hurry.
So in closing, valuable marketing lessons are everywhere – potentially saving us tons of wasted time, money, and anguish. We just need to tune in to and leverage those marketing lessons when available – no matter how subtle the lesson.
And let me leave you with one critical question – “Who is your real target market?” You may want to spend some time with that one as the success and health of your business highly depends on it.