How to Find Your Ideal Customer in Your Local Newspaper.
by Tom Egelhoff
Customers. They are the life-blood of every business. When economic times are strained the customer pool is somewhat diminished as many rein in their spending. There are still customers out there but the real business winners are those businesses that know where and how to find them. I use the newspaper. Let’s look at each section of the paper to see where the customers are hiding.
The front section of the paper is usually where you will find national and international news. Just because things are happening half way around the world doesn’t mean they don’t affect your local population. Oil prices, military conflicts, the stock market, housing, the economy and unemployment can all contribute to the success or failure of a local company.
Some businesses thrive during a recession. Like the company that makes, “Going out of Business” signs. Some businesses are not so lucky such as car dealerships. The key is to find a way to capitalize on this information. How can you be a benefit to businesses that are affected by national events?
This is the section of the paper that concentrates on local successes and “human interest” stories. Here is where you will find names of ordinary citizens to city, and state leaders. Who is doing what? City and state offices buy lots of products and services. Is government your market? State and local governments pass new laws each year; can your services help those affected by laws and regulation changes?
The other very important section within the local section is wedding and engagement announcements. Realtors and insurance agents can live off this section. Marriage means that two households are going to become one. Apartment dwellers are looking to become homeowners. These customers are going to need wedding invitations, wedding planners, and cake decorators, meeting facilities, florists, limousine services, financial planners and a host of other services.
Major sports events are a great opportunity to bring in customers. Can you tie a business promotion to the Super Bowl, Final Four, or World Series? These events often attract people who ignore sports most of the time. What’s the main topic of conversation after the Super Bowl? The commercials.
Don’t forget local sports heroes. High school athletes have parents that buy things. Send a note with your card to congratulate athletic achievement. Also these students are also potential customers of the future. They will remember your appreciation of their efforts.
This section is a treasure trove of customers. Who’s hiring? Businesses that are expanding are going to need more services. Yard sales might be an indication of someone wanting to move and don’t want to take the same old junk to their new home. People or businesses selling vehicles might be an indication of an opportunity for your business.
Commercial real estate is sometimes listed here too. Contact the realtor and see if they will give you a heads up when the property is sold or leased.
During a recession many businesses make the mistake of reducing their advertising. Those that are in your newspaper are most likely companies that are doing things right and will still be around after others are gone. Build a relationship with these stronger businesses that will probably maintain their loyalty to you for helping them during tough times.
People, places things. They are all in the newspaper every day. Customers are trying hard to find you so don’t skimp on the time it takes to find them. Taking the time to read your daily paper in detail each day will go a long way to cultivating and maintaining a strong and loyal customer base.
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Based in Bozeman, MT, Tom Egelhoff is the author of How To Market, Advertise & Promote Your Business Or Service In A Small Town, and The Small Town Advertising Handbook: How To Say More And Spend Less. He is also a seminar and workshop presenter and trainer. He may be reached at 888-550-6100 or PO Box 271, Bozeman, MT 59771-0271
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