The art of handing out promotional products often seems to be a shotgun approach – businesses hand out as many of a simple giveaway as they can and hope that they can make an impression on recipients. However, companies that want to have a better impact on their clientele may consider being more discerning.
Marketers should already have an idea who their target audience is, as well as a solid understanding of the product or service they're selling. The customer who marketers decide that they want affects every aspect of marketing. That includes branding, advertisements, customer-employee interactions and, finally, promo items. New businesses that have not narrowed down their target audience will want to prioritize this step, as it could mean the difference between success and failure.
Spreading too thin
It may seem a smart strategy to not define a target audience, as more customers seem to be the key to generating more revenue. Unfortunately, this strategy can easily fall apart as companies try to please too many people, commit too many resources and even alienate that small customer base who is most interested in a business' product or service.
Harvard Business Review used the example of Yahoo and Google to illustrate the importance of a focused strategy. The former started out as an Internet portal buttressed by editorial content. The company spread its resources as it grew to other departments, such as social networks, products and media, leaving its search function underdeveloped. Google, meanwhile invested heavily in technology, and the engineers, scientists and designers who would lead those innovative initiatives. Google eventually superseded Yahoo in the marketplace, presumably due to a more efficient, focused business model.
The target audience in this example may seem to be the consumers who use these search engines. Yet, as the Review noted, the term customer is a broad one that can apply to wholesalers, retailers, research labs and any other group that purchases a company's products and generates revenue. For Google that may be seen as anyone involved in the development of its technology. Another example given was Merck, a pharmaceutical company who has chosen its "customers" as the research scientists who develop the drugs that they sell.
Learning to narrow
The lesson here is that defining parameters for business objectives can lead to a strong foundation for a company. Yet, knowing to narrow down a customer base and actually doing it are two different things.
Entrepreneur magazine has highlighted a number of questions that companies can ask themselves to help choose their primary consumers. Generally, everything revolves around the question of who would pay for a product or service. From there, organizations will want to get a more detailed answer to that question by considering who has bought from them, how big is the market, how will the product be sold and how can those customers be located. Once a target audience has been selected, it's time to refine production and marketing efforts.
The example of promotions
Promotional giveaways are a solid example of the value of choosing customers wisely. Handing out a thousand pens may be an effective means of spreading a company's name, but its all for naught if the people receiving those pens have little interest in the product or service being sold. Knowing the audience can lead to using promotional products as an extension of a business' interests and concerns, thereby potentially leading to greater impact on consumers. For example, if the product is related to the auto industry, some worthwhile giveaway, such as jumper cables or a car survival kit can speak more directly to a businesses' clientele – people in need of car services. With a little forethought, companies can find their ideal consumer and commit more fully to wooing them.