Target the Market and Win the Game

Target the market and win the game
Helene Zampetakis   From: The Australian   August 28, 2009 12:00AM
WHEN times are tough, low-cost marketing strategies look better than ever, but get it wrong and you're likely to spend more than you make.
Countless beleaguered business owners have felt the pain of forking out on brochures, email marketing campaigns or loyalty schemes, only for the initiative to fall flat.
While these promotional initiatives are intrinsically sound, marketing experts say it is not just a matter of setting them loose in your catchment area and waiting for the customers to roll in. Low-cost campaigns need to be well considered and accurately targeted to work.
This is a lesson Devi Heating Systems managing director John Balass learned the hard way. Two years ago Balass decided to extend his customer base by penetrating the home-owner sector, although he has a strong reputation with architects and trades.
He opted for a variety of advertising, taking out $800 print ads in trade magazines and a two-week radio slot for about $2000. "It was money down the drain," Balass says.
When even the costlier Yellow Pages and a home show display failed to deliver, he was advised to go back to his core business and use it as a base for expansion.
In June, Balass began an active sales campaign with architects and building trades. He increased face-to-face customer visits, put out news releases and multiplied telephone contact. It was much less costly than his advertising efforts and, more important, it paid off. "We've had four or five projects come through in that time," Balass says.
A key to the turnaround is that Balass identified his core market and tailored his campaign to suit it.
"There are a lot of different ways you can market yourself at low cost," says Anne Sorenson, director of small business consultancy MarketingIsUs.
"But people get it wrong when they jump in and take an ad hoc, reactive approach. If you get it wrong, you can really erode your...