When you go into business, you have a particular audience in mind to market your products or services to. However, your initial target market might shift as your business evolves – and that's OK.
For instance, many female fashion brands now offer clothing for men, and food joints now offer vegan or gluten-free options. You too can expand your business and reach new consumers in other markets with the right marketing strategy. Here's how to do it.
1. Research your market.
Before you get started, you'll want to understand the ins and outs of the market you're entering. There are two groups you should focus on when conducting your research: consumers and your competition.
Consumers are the precise demographic you serve or plan to serve. In other words, they're the people you want to please. If you don't know your potential customers, you won't be able to recruit or retain 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, director of marketing at GetResponse. "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 highly personalized and customized to the needs of that new audience, added Worcester.
"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," she said.
Some of this information might already be accessible to you. For instance, if your new market overlaps with your old one (which it likely will), it's possible that you already have data on those consumers you'll now be targeting.
"Take a close look at the data you already have," said Nataly Kelly, VP of international operations and strategy 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 CRM, 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."
Worcester added that you can conduct marketing research to understand how well your efforts will work in a new market. She recommended A/B testing on a select target audience and using marketing vehicles with the lowest cost and highest return (like email marketing and webinars). That way, if the trial runs are unsuccessful, you won't have wasted too much money. [Looking for the right email marketing software or service for your brand? Choose from our best picks.]
You also want to learn about your competition when shifting markets. How will you stand out? What are the lessons you can learn from them?
"Identify the top influencers in the market and read their content," said Worcester. "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 messaging, their primary marketing channels, and the types of content they create to promote their products and services.
2. Form collaborations.
Not all businesses in your market will be your direct competitors. Perhaps some sell products or services that complement your own. Create ways to work with these brands rather than against them.
"Find complementary local businesses and align with them for joint marketing activities," said Worcester. "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 shared similar views, stating 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."
Don't be afraid to reach out to and form connections with other companies. Odds are those brands will want to collaborate too. Doing so can benefit both parties; it's a win-win deal.
3. Up your digital marketing game.
Digital marketing is essential in today's business world. Not only is it crucial for your business to have a mobile-friendly website and strong social media presence, it's important you build your brand and foster a positive reputation online.
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"A key part of reaching a new market is going digital," said Eric Johnson, owner 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."
When branching out to a new market and new consumers, before you begin marketing your goods and services, it's imperative that you properly introduce yourself and your brand.
"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'll soon see sales skyrocketing. 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 part of a specific community they belong to promoting another business, it affirms that the brand fits with their lifestyle, Johnson said.
Never underestimate the power of a referral, but don't rely solely on it either. Be sure to practice better social media marketing, email marketing and even content marketing. [Searching for the right social media marketing solution for your business? Check out our best picks.]
"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."