Of all the possible digital channels and options at your disposal to market to your target audience, how do you know which ones to use?
The answer is obvious: it’s the marketing channel that best reaches and resonates with your customer!
Satire aside, the answer is NOT that obvious.
Do you even know which marketing tactic is most effective? Most small business owners do not.
You can go on gut, feel, intuition, or whatever you want to call your customer ‘insight’. Of course, the most reliable indicator of success (or failure) is your marketing data.
But what if you don’t have that type of data? Or what if you are just starting off and it doesn’t yet exist, then what do you do?
You can use a tool called the Heat Map.
A heat map is a visual depiction of all the available marketing channels and touch points along the customer buying cycle. It’s a grid that allows you to prioritize and ‘map’ the channels that are most important to your marketing success. (Tweet This!)
It looks something like this . . .
The customer touch points, or phases in their customer journey, run right to left in columns along the x axis, while the different marketing channels run top to bottom in rows along the y axis.
Once plotted, evaluate how critical each marketing tactic is with respect to each phase of the customer journey by how proficient your marketing capabilities are in this channel.
For example, looking at the heat map above, when your prospects are first ‘considering’ your product or service, how important is Email?
Use following criteria to make your evaluation:
Importance of Touchpoint/Competitive Position (color designation)
- High/Vulnerable (red)
- High/Average (orange)
- Low/Vulnerable (yellow)
- Low/Average (white)
If you determine that email is “highly” important in reaching your target audience during the Consider phase, and your competency, or competitiveness, with respect executing email campaigns is, at worst, “average”, then email receives a “High/Average” score, which corresponds to the color orange.
On the other hand, if social media’s importance in reaching your target audience is “low”, and you don’t do a very good job marketing with social media, it receives a “Low/Vulnerable” score at the Consider phase, which corresponds to the color white.
Perform a similar evaluation for each marketing channel at every customer touchpoint, designating it as red, orange, yellow, or white according to the criteria.
When the map is complete, red and orange are the colors to pay attention to – they represent the areas of highest impact for your marketing success.
Orange represents a critical customer touchpoint for which your company has average or better capabilities. You don’t need to spend much time here – you’re already doing a good job.
Red represents a critical touchpoint for customers for which your company has poor capabilities compared to competition. This is where you need to focus. Put a lot of resources and energy into these marketing activities for they represent the upside.
Yellow and white designations are less important because these touch points aren’t as critical to your marketing and sales success. It’s not that you should ignore them, but they definitely fall further down your priority list and are activities to be skipped if you don’t have the capacity.
A heat map allows you to perform customer focused marketing – an approach which is particularly important for small businesses. You simply don’t have the time and resources to pursue all marketing options, so you need to know which ones generate the biggest bang for your buck, so to speak. In this way, you can arrive at a prioritized list of the marketing channels you need to pursue.
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