When creating a marketing plan for your small business, it’s important to study your audience. Who is your ideal customer? What is the best way to reach them? Where do they hang out?
One company facing the challenge of reaching a hard-to-reach market is myMarketing Cafe member Zounds of the Midsouth. Zounds franchise owner Joe Pickler and I talked a short while ago about the marketing challenges his small business faces and how his team is working to overcome them.
By way of background, Joe and his wife Gayle opened a franchise location of Zounds Hearing Aids in Olive Branch, Mississippi last June. They opened a second store in Germantown, Tennessee in August.
The business is successful for many reasons, but here is what really stands out. Joe is an experienced sales manager with a long and impressive career in sales. He is very personable. His personality is so genuine and friendly that it’s easy to get addicted to him. He is ideally suited for sales and customer relations. Joe understands the customer experience and sales cycle, and the importance of establishing a relationship with clients. Gayle has a strong administrative background and offers expertise with managing the operations aspect of the business. It’s an ideal partnership that capitalizes on the strengths of each partner. In addition, the corporate company, Zounds, offers a high quality product at a very reasonable price.
Here’s the business marketing challenge…
The ideal audience for Zounds of the Midsouth products are seniors. Many of whom live on fixed incomes and in retirement communities or even assisted living facilities. So while we live in a digital world with a multitude of advertising opportunities available to us, this group is a target audience who lives primarily offline.
So, what is the resolution?
Joe and Gayle have been focusing on traditional marketing channels but they haven’t discounted digital marketing. Here’s a sneak peek at the strategy:
Direct Mail: They see their biggest return using direct mail pieces that are sent directly to the target audience. The marketing copy offers incentives. such as a free hearing test and consultation, to drive the consumer to the store, where the team can begin to establish a relationship.
Business to Consumer Marketing: They also offer information such as brochures and pamphlets in traditional settings such as restaurants, salons, clinics and other service providers where their audience is likely to visit.
Information Sessions: The Zounds team is going to where the audience is and has found success by holding information sessions directly in neighborhoods or in the assisted living facilities. The presenters, primarily Joe, focus on two things. They share about the many causes of hearing loss, such as serving in the military, exposure to loud noises, and when the presentation is concluded, nearly everyone in the room can relate to something that could have caused hearing loss. They also focus on the product and the benefits from choosing Zounds, which are high quality, excellent service and price.
Digital Marketing: Even though the primary audience is not active online, their influencers are and Joe and Gayle realize it’s important to reach this important sub-audience too. The company has a well-designed, easy to navigate website, with information a new consumer will need. They maintain an active and engaging Facebook page. Joe is an active LinkedIn user, and takes advantage of the groups and connection opportunities to drive business and create awareness. Their digital channels are also promoted in their offline marketing efforts.
Storytelling: One of the greatest marketing advantages for Zounds is the stories that come from the customers. Joe and Gayle could write a bestseller sharing the amazing stories of triumph. One recent customer had not heard her eleven-year-old child’s voice in seven years. When she tried a hearing aid, her son asked her if she could hear him, and she wept at the sound of his voice. This is the kind of product story we all wish we had!
Because of the storytelling value, Joe and Gayle will be sharing customer stories within their digital channels and in a newsletter, using videos and articles. Stories help prospective clients connect to the business and find the benefit of using the product. It’s one of the most important marketing strategies for businesses of any size.
Many thanks to Joe for sharing about their unique situation and how they are dealing with their marketing challenges. Please say hi to Joe in the comments!