One of my many media projects in the fashion industry had me working with a number of major brands on a photo shoot. I reached out to several artisans from smaller independent brands, which made specialty accessories, since I like to accent the big brands with unique items as statement pieces. Overall the response was positive, however, one response gave me pause.
The owner of the brand had not heard of the magazine and doubted that the readers of the publication could understand the value of his products and how they were made. He went on about all the amazing specialty magazines and stores that his products have been featured in, a prestigious list, but one that was hyper-focused on a very specific and limited market. He did not see the value in reaching over 100,000 new potential customers, because in his mind they did not fit his ideal consumer.
Could his brand benefit from showcasing his artistry and quality to a larger audience? I thought so, I also thought his product was a great fit for the magazines demo... it just wasn't the demo he imagined would buy his products.
In marketing class we all learn that the best way to develop your marketing strategy is to create an "ideal client profile" and gear all you’re marketing towards it. But if you distill your ideal client down too far, you might end up wondering why you are going out of business or not seeing the growth you think you should.
Below are three ways to broaden your demographic profile and reach new customers.
- Look for consumers your brand can appeal to beyond your original intent.
Many times entrepreneurs start their business because it is their passion or it serves a community that they are a part of, so naturally that is where they start to build their brand. To grow you need to look for crossover potential and think outside the box.
Your customers aren't one dimensional, so why is your brand?
I consulted a NYC based menswear line that specialized in commuter business apparel. I told them to look beyond their core demographic of NYC bicycle commuters as their unique men's suits allowed for better breathing and cooling. I suggested that they promote their apparel to general menswear stores in hotter climates and do some marketing that did not feature bicycles. With a minor tweak to their marketing and an additional trade shows in Las Vegas and Phoenix they found new retailers and saw substantial growth without alienating their core consumer.
- Find new ways to tell your story and you will find new customers.
It can be easy to fall into a marketing rut, I see so many businesses running the same ad, in the same magazine, or submitting press releases to the same publications with the same audience, over, and over, and over again. Yet they are shocked that they are stagnant and not seeing the ROI they once did. It's because they are giving the same people the same information in an endless cycle. I have a goal to tell at least one new person about my brand's story every day.
Wake up every day and tell your story to at least one new person, you might be the one to change their world, and they might be the one to change yours.
If you can tell your story to a new group of people you are sure to find new fans. One of my own brands has seen the benefit from taking our brand story and turning it into content that is seen by a different demographic than our core. We talk about the history, the manufacturing process, and the reason why we are in business. In fact, as a result of our content marketing and the reach it had, I completely refocus our demographic model, our product's focus, and pricing structure. This has resulted in the brand being picked up by retailers in new international markets and at many influential retailer stores here in the USA.
- Where are your competitors focused?
It's good to focus on your own demographic profile, but knowing where the competition is focused and if the market itself has changed is key. Often entrepreneurs and small business owners are so engaged in what is happening in the moment they don't look up to see that they have gone off course.
Your customer is telling you what they want at every interaction... yet many businesses ignore it...then they wonder where everybody went.
A surfboard company I consulted with was seeing a steady and dramatic drop in sales, when I asked the owner of the brand why...he had no idea. His brand provided top quality handmade surfboards at a fair price. He was just a few hundred yards from one of the hottest surfing spots in Southern California. They had history in the industry stretching back 20 years.
It was not a quality issue or a brand awareness issue, it was a branding issue. His marketing message was still firmly targeted to one specific demographic, young, single, surfer dudes (from the 1980s). His competitors had evolved and focused on the broader demographic with ads that appealed to a wider age group and the growing segment of female surfers. Their ads focused on the quality of their products, the lifestyle, and craftsmanship. While the company in decline still ran ads with scantily clad women and presented no features or benefits, heritage, or a reason to buy their products other than the fact that women in string bikinis will stand next to them for a photo shoot. I would like to tell you that they listened, changed their ways, and grew their business...but they did not and eventually they sold what was left to a competitor.
Brands come and go, but the ones that endure understand that there is an ebb and flow to the marketplace and once in a while you must reflect on who your consumer is and refocus on them.