Target-focused marketing

by Leigh Wallinger.

Small business owners are often guilty of wasting both time and money on inappropriate marketing activities. They don’t do it deliberately but the consequences can be serious. Not only is the time and money gone forever, what’s worse is that these activities simply don’t generate any new prospects.

The worst “crime” of all is to channel some (or all) of your marketing towards people who will never want to buy what you are selling. If you target the wrong people your business will fail.

It is essential that your marketing message reaches the right people. There is no value in promoting your company to people who have no interest in what you sell.

As a small business owner, with only limited time and cash available, you should spend some time answering these two questions – the payback will be disproportionally beneficial.

Who exactly will buy my products or services?

Be a specific as possible. These are the people you want to be marketing and selling to. They represent your target market(s). All your marketing efforts must be directed to reaching them.

Try to define several relatively small niche target areas here. It is wise to have multiple niches to give you some resilience when one niche market suffers a reverse. Your answer to this question pinpoints exactly who you expect will buy from you. Understand as much as you can about them. Where do they go or look when buying what you sell?

Analyse each niche as thoroughly as possible taking particular notice of what your competitors are doing. Be especially careful when you find no evidence of activity from your main competitors. It might mean they have previously found this niche to be unrewarding.

Why will these people buy from me?

Prospects in your target niches could buy from you or any number of your competitors.  Understand why they will buy from you. What makes you better than your competitors? What problems exist for which you have a solution?  What impact do these problems currently have on the prospect’s business?

Focus your marketing on these problems and how you solve them. Provide evidence that you understand the prospects’ problems by describing how you have helped other companies facing similar problems. When you write your marketing materials, be sure to use the prospect’s terminology to make them feel more comfortable. Let your knowledge come across and use this to build some dialogue.

Write your marketing copy to focus on the challenges your target audience is facing.  Explain why you are the best supplier. Where possible introduce some testimonial quotes from your happy clients. The last step is to communicate this to your target audience.  Do your utmost to focus on your chosen niches.  Promoting wider than this is a waste of time and money.

Let’s look at a couple of examples. Firstly, assume you run a small company providing electrical services to domestic and small business consumers. You want your company to work locally, say within 15 miles of your base.

Your marketing must be oriented towards your local environment. You can run short articles in Local Council magazines or small (and cheap) adverts in church magazines. You might do a leaflet drop in the area in which you want to find clients or attend some local networking events.

You must do whatever you can to limit the geographic spread of your marketing.  If you work in town A, there is no value having people in towns B, C and D seeing your marketing material. Why pay extra to reach people who will never buy from you?

In the next example, imagine you run a small company providing a range of garden products, which you are happy to ship worldwide.  Of course, most of your business will come from your own country. In this situation, you need to find national or global platforms on which to publish your marketing copy. It is likely your business will revolve around an Internet-based e-commerce system allowing purchases to be made without direct contact with the company.

In this case, you should avoid small circulation local magazines and focus on national sources of opportunities. There will be opportunities for you to write articles for these publications. You should use social media websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook as these have a wide geographical reach. To get more focus, you might look at some of their special interest groups. The objective behind everything you do is to persuade people to visit your website.

Ensure your website contains enough material to persuade someone to revisit and eventually make a purchase.


Leigh Wallinger knows the problems that every small business owner encounters when trying to establish and grow a small business.  After 30+ years’ experience he now helps small business owners to grow their businesses.  Contact him by email (enquiries at or via

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