- When you’re expanding your market base, it’s important to thoroughly research your new and existing target audience.
- Research businesses already in the new markets you’re looking to reach and, if possible, try collaborating with like-minded companies.
- Create a multilevel digital marketing strategy that can reach the most people while remaining cost-effective.
- This article is for small business owners looking to branch out into new markets.
When you roll out your business, you likely have a particular audience in mind to market your products or services to. However, your initial target market might shift as your business evolves.
For instance, many female fashion brands now also offer clothing for men, and countless restaurants now provide vegan or gluten-free options. You can expand your company’s target demographic to reach new consumers with the right marketing strategy by following these tips.
1. Research your target audience.
Consumers are often the target audience that needs your products or services. If you don’t understand your potential customers, you won’t be able to sell to them. In addition to researching your initial target audience, you need to research customers in other markets if you want to reach them.
“Since you’re going after new customers in a different market, you want to be sure that you’ve done thorough research on your target audience and the market before you … develop your marketing campaigns,” said Courtenay Worcester, marketing director at Circa. “To do this, invest the time to really understand the market and buyer behavior specific to [that market].”
From there, you can develop new marketing strategies that are customized to the needs of that new audience.
“Armed with the knowledge of how that audience thinks, feels, and behaves when it comes to making purchasing decisions, you can develop tailored marketing campaigns that attract and convert them,” Worcester said.
Leveraging existing consumers
Some of this critical demographic information might already be accessible to you. For instance, if your new market overlaps with your old one (and it likely will), it’s possible you already have data on the additional consumers you’ll now be targeting.
“Take a close look at the data you already have,” said Nataly Kelly, vice president of localization at HubSpot. “What countries and regions send the most traffic to your website today? It’s rare for companies with an online presence to only have customers and lead flow in just one country. … Targeting contacts already in your [customer relationship management software] – but perhaps with focused efforts for that region, country, or language – can be very effective to help these leads bubble up to the top to convert them into customers.”
Key takeaway: To develop a marketing strategy, you need to understand both your current and prospective audience.
2. Study the competition.
You’ll want to learn about your competition when shifting markets so you can answer questions such as: How will I stand out? What are the lessons I can learn from companies already targeting these audiences?
“Identify the top influencers in the market and read their content,” Worcester said. “This will not only give you insight into how to approach those influencers to cultivate relationships with them, it will also give you insight into the behavior of the customers in that market.”
Worcester advised identifying ways your competition engages their audience, including the language and tone they use in their messages, their primary marketing channels, and the type of content they create to promote their products and services.
Did you know?: You can use Porter’s Five Forces to analyze your competition. This model helps you determine if your business can be profitable compared to similar ones in the market.
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3. Collaborate with local business owners.
Not all businesses in your industry will be your direct competitors. Perhaps some sell products or services that complement your own. Find ways to work with these brands rather than against them. In fact, collaborations are one way to boost your sales.
“Find complementary local businesses and align with them for joint marketing activities,” Worcester said. “This allows you to quickly land and expand by tapping into an established business with a complementary clientele. … Since you’ve already done your homework on your target audience, you’ll know which businesses complement your offerings.”
Kelly added that popular companies already in the market are “your best advocates on the ground, as they already know your business and can help represent you locally in the early days before you invest in a direct local presence in a given market.”
4. Create a digital marketing plan.
Digital marketing is essential in today’s business world. Not only is it crucial for your company to have a mobile-friendly website and strong social media presence, it’s important you also foster a positive reputation.
“A key part of reaching a new market is going digital,” said Eric Johnson, co-founder of digital marketing agency Firebrick Creative. “Word of mouth rarely suffices in a new market, because your top promoters are likely to be in the markets that you’re already in – not in the new ones. Digital marketing, however, provides a global version of word-of-mouth advertising. Online reviews, testimonials and stories can show new customers everything they need to know about your brand before they decide to give it a shot for themselves.”
“A great way to reach a new market is via local SEO,” Johnson said. “If your business existed [prior to] your entrance to a new market, then you’ve likely already built a solid foundation for SEO that could take years to replicate. By simply expanding your site and offering new content that’s relevant to your new market, you’ll be miles ahead of the competition.”
FYI: An extensive digital marketing plan will not only ensure your business can easily reach a new audience, but also provide clear goals for sales leads.
5. Utilize email marketing.
Part of a solid digital marketing plan is to invest in an email marketing strategy. Your existing customer database can provide a wealth of information to help you better approach a new market.
Worcester recommends A/B testing your target audience using email marketing, which is generally low cost and has a high return. That way, if the trial runs are unsuccessful, you won’t have wasted too much money. But if they are successful, you’ve now figured out a great way to reach your ideal customer in a new market. [Looking for the right email tools for your brand? Choose from our best picks for email marketing software and solutions.]
6. Take advantage of social media marketing.
It’s imperative you properly introduce yourself and your brand before advertising in a new market. A great way to do that while being cost-effective is through social media marketing. Use social media to reach out to the ideal consumers in your new market and build a connection.
“Finding a new customer is all about becoming a part of his or her community,” said Johnson. “Showing up out of the blue to convince someone that they need your product or service is expensive and largely unfruitful.”
However, if you can gain your consumers’ trust first, you may soon see sales skyrocketing. In addition to regular social media posts and ads, a great way to do this is through influencer marketing, which typically takes place on social media platforms like Instagram or YouTube. When a customer sees someone who’s trusted and part of a specific community that they also belong to promoting another business, it affirms that the brand fits with their lifestyle, Johnson said. [Need help monitoring your social media accounts? Check out our best social media management tools.]
7. Don’t forget text message marketing.
Once you have new leads, one way to personally connect with these potential customers is through text message marketing campaigns. This marketing technique allows you to send bulk text messages to segmented groups, and offers a more individualized and direct approach to access new customers. [Related content: How to Run a Successful Text Message Marketing Campaign]
As with any marketing approach, the more information you obtain the better chance for success. Consequently, you’ll get the best results if your customer information is both current and organized.
Tip: Text messaging platforms make this process smoother. Take a look at our reviews of the best text message marketing services.
While all of these tips are key for reaching a new market, they should be part of a wider marketing and outreach strategy. Solidifying your consumer demographics, setting campaign benchmarks and intentionality is essential to expanding your brand.
Hannah Tayson contributed to the writing and research in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.