Choose your target

Motivate your customers with targeted marketing.
marketing target

Plan your work, work your plan. It’s good advice when developing a marketing strategy for the new year. But what if you don’t know where to start to create the plan to begin with? The best advice I can give you is to first create a reasonable, attainable goal and work backward to fill in the steps that will help you to achieve that target.

Let’s say a reasonable marketing target for 2022 is to increase your sales by 15% to homeowners in the affluent part of town that we’ll call Richland. What steps and marketing plans can you make to achieve that goal?

Set your marketing budget

If you are going to increase your sales to the fine folks of Richland, you’ve got to ask them to spend their money with you. This “ask” is called marketing. Since it takes money to make money, you’re going to need to spend some of yours to get more of theirs. Ah, but how much should you spend? Conventional wisdom has always been to set a marketing budget of around 2% to 3% of your gross revenue. The Small Business Administration recommends that small businesses with revenues of less than $5 million should allocate 7% to 8% of their revenue to marketing, assuming you have margins of 10% to 12% after expenses. I recommend you do the math and allocate funds in the 2% to 5% ballpark that feels right to you. If you go low and need more, you’ll have room to maneuver.

Define your target audience

As you’ve already set your goal to increase sales among the well-heeled folks who can afford your services in Richland, your target market is defined. This means that advertising in other neighborhoods will not help you achieve your goal. So, don’t advertise there. While this seems simplistic, it’s not. Over the course of the year, you’ll be hit up by advertising salespeople who want you to exhibit at an event, buy an ad, or sponsor a team for a really good cause, and you’ll be tempted to spend part of your budget. Your best defense against these salespeople is to keep in mind your goal.

If the event, ad or team does not reach your audience in Richland, then you can more easily say no. Conversely, if the advertising vehicle presented does reach your Richland audience, you’ll feel more confident in evaluating the merit of the request.

Create your strategy

Knowing something about the residents of Richland will help you to deliver your marketing message in a place where they will be likely to receive it. Are there local newspapers, websites, community forums or newsletters that specifically reach Richland residents? Since you know where they live, would community or homeowners association restrictions allow you to walk the streets of the neighborhood and drop off door hangers or brochures? Considering that you are being so specific with your target audience, a postcard direct mail campaign could be effective. And, of course, digital marketing through Google Ads and Facebook allows you to pinpoint your message to more exact regions and ZIP codes.

Develop your campaign

Now that you know who you want to receive your message and how you could deliver it, it’s time to decide what you want to say. If Richland residents are really that wealthy, they might not be motivated by coupons or discounts. Think instead of what would motivate this customer to buy. It may be concierge services, specialty products or messaging that conveys prestige. Develop a creative campaign that speaks to what the customer wants, using language that motivates them to act.

For help with defining your target audience and creating marketing that they’ll respond to, you can download a free workbook at If you want more insights on how to build a marketing plan for the new year, follow me on Facebook and Twitter @whatsyouravocad or email me at

This column originally appeared in Irrigation & Green Industry magazine.
Stacie Zinn Roberts is an award-winning writer, marketing expert and founder of What’s Your Avocado? Marketing and Public Relations, Mount Vernon, Washington, which specializes in green industry marketing. She can be reached at

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