There are two basic approaches to advertising or lead generation... the shotgun approach... or the rifle approach.
There is only one cost efficient way... the rifle approach.
By carefully selecting specific niche markets, or market segments, and presenting a compelling message directly to that audience, you will begin to reap the real profit rewards of direct marketing.
First let's define a "niche" market. I define it as: "Any homogeneous market in which the members of the group have similar occupational, interests, or lifestyle characteristics... those characteristics being ones which would make them an excellent prospect to benefit from your services... and/or consume your products.
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF TARGETING OCCUPATIONAL MARKETS FOR A "WELLNESS" NICHE...
Some of the niche markets are obvious:
* Medical Doctors, Nurses
* Health Food Stores
* Fitness Centers
* Spas, Health Retreats
* Acupuncturists, Massage Therapists, etc.
* Veterinarians, Pet Clinics, Pet Shops (wellness is not limited to humans)
NICHE LIFESTYLE AND DEMOGRAPHIC RELATED MARKETS...
=> Senior citizens or "baby boomers"
=> Specific Disease Sufferers... cancer, diabetes, arthritis, ADD, Lupus, etc. (Remember, we can make NO claims.)
=> Pre-natal, Pregnant Women, Babies, Parenting
=> Sports participants and enthusiasts
=> Health & Fitness Buyers
=> Vitamin, Supplement, Remedy Buyers
=> Etc. Etc.
HOW TO TARGET THE NICHE...
Regardless of how you intend to approach the niche with your marketing message... print advertising, broadcast, direct mail, e-mail marketing, etc. ... you have to identify resources that can supply the targeted pathway for your message.
The first place to look... and a pure qualifier for whether you have identified a real niche in the first place... is to look for magazines and other print media (newsletters) that are targeted specifically to that defined market... and that can supply you with targeted mailing lists (snail mail or opt-in email) , print advertising vehicles (magazines, newsletters, newspapers, trade journals, etc.), to cost effectively reach the niche.
Where do you find these resources? The easiest and fastest way is to do a search at Google (or your favorite search engine) for terms that closely identity the target audience.
For purposes of example let's use the occupational niche of Chiropractors:
Searching Google for "chiropractic magazines" will show us a link... http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/journal.shtml ... which will in-turn identify several publications which show promise:
* Chiropractic Economics
* DC Products Review
* Dynamic Chiropractic
* Today's Chiropractic
Once you have identified several publications that serve the niche market, your next step is to contact each publication and request a "full media kit" from the advertising department. The publications ad department will send you a copy of the publication, advertising rate card, and other marketing materials touting the advantages of advertising with them.
Study the contents of the media kit carefully. Especially look at the ads which could be considered competitors for your product. If you are lucky enough to live near a large university or public library here is a trick used by many savvy advertisers... go the library and see if there is an old copy of the magazine in question. Go back at least a year or two. If you find the same advertisers in the old publications you can safely assume that the publication is pulling a profit for their advertising. This is not fail-safe... but it is a good indicator.
Also, don't be afraid to pick up the phone and call an existing advertiser, or two--or ten, and ask them how the publication pulls for them. Direct competitors will be reluctant to talk with you about this... but non-competitors will usually respond with some good information.
Be alert to the difference between "circulation" and "readership". Only make your advertising decisions on the basis of verified circulation. Readership is a figure that publications like to toss around to inflate the perceived importance and size of their audience. The only real measure worthy of your consideration is their "audited circulation".
Only test one niche publication at a time unless you have very sophisticated ad tracking available to you. If the niche is unresponsive to your offer in one publication... there is a very good chance that it will be unresponsive in all the other publications which address that niche. Refine your offer... and test the same publication again. If it fails the second time with a completely different offer... then you might want to re-evaluate that niche.
Make sure that you inquire as to whether or not the publication will rent you their mailing list.
Most will rent you a set of subscribers names for a one-time use. If you rent a set of names... do not attempt to copy and re-mail those names. The lists are seeded with trace names that will alert the publications of your re-use of the names. It is a violation of the terms-of-use agreement and there is much case law to support the claims of the publication. If you are caught re-using one-time-use rental names you will be subject to fines and penalties by law.
Names are usually available by specific "sorts" or "selects"... that is, you can select names by such variables as zip code, gender, title, etc. If you are mailing to a niche market you may want to confine your original test mailing to zip codes which are close to your own... to make follow-up easier and less costly.
Names which reflect paid subscribers are more responsive and of better quality than names which are "free controlled circulation" names... although in most trade publications you will find that "controlled circulation" (free) is the norm.
Another way to approach logistics of direct mailing is to contact a "list broker" or "lettershop" in your local area and begin a relationship with a knowledgeable staff person. Define closely what you are looking for in the way of target audience and the broker will use seek out and present options for you to select from.
If you are dealing with email lists... make absolutely sure they are from double opt-in subscribers. Push the media reps for verification of this point and get guarantees to that effect in writing.
You may want to subscribe to Target Marketing Magazine, Direct, DM News, Catalog Age, and other direct marketing trade publications... all are free. They are full of marketing resources, list brokers, and helpful articles that will educate and inform you on the field of direct marketing.
Well, there you have it... a primer on targeting niche markets. The techniques described above will work to identify any niche. Targeting responsive niches will build your business quickly, profitably... and cost effectively!
(C) Copyright 2005... Thom Reece is the creator of Online Marketing Resource Center [ http://www.e-comprofits.com ] and the CEO of Online Marketing Group in Hawaii. Thom can be reached by email at: thom'AT'e-comprofits.com