Your Next Customer: How Will They Find You?

The number one issue for any small business is discoverability. How will your next customer find you? We’ve already talked here about meeting your customers where they are, which is an important component of any marketing strategy.

But for your customer to find you, you need to be in the right place at the right time with the right message. How do you get all those things to work together?


The Right Place


You need to meet your customers where they are, which means you need to know things about them. This not only includes the customers you have now, but the customers you would like to have. There are several steps to doing this.

Create a marketing persona.

Who is your ideal or target customer? The more detailed this persona is, the better. Marketing agencies often name them. What does Jane look like? What color are her eyes? Is she married or single? Does she have kids? How old are they? What does she do for fun? For Work?

Of course, this is just a place to start, and you may need to create more than one persona. What does Tom look like? Does he stay in shape or is he a couch potato? How old is he, and what does he want or need? Where does he see himself in five years? How can your product or service help him get there?

While this may seem ridiculously complex, the more detail you have the better your marketing will be. The trend is toward personalization: making the buying journey unique for each customer, and the best way to do that is to know them and where they work, eat, sleep, travel, and recreate.

Gather Data through Social Listening

If you have any kind of social media presence, you can learn a great deal about customers and future customers who might also be following your brand. There are programs you can use to do this, but even Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have native analytics tools you can use to gather data.

This data contains everything from gender to household income, and in many cases will tell you what percentage of your customers use a certain cell phone company, iPhone vs. Android devices, and more.

This data gathering allows you to start asking questions:

  • Does your persona match up with the social media data?
  • Does the data show you something you didn’t know about your customers or followers?
  • Does the data validate other data you have gathered from analytics?

You may have formulated your personas based on your current web visitors, current customer data, and data from other sources. Social listening lets you know how much that data translates to social media. If it does not match up, there may be several reasons.

  • Message: Your message is inconsistent. Is your social message the same as the messages on your website and at your physical locations? If you are gaining followers who do not fit your profile, your message may be off.
  • Persona: Your persona is off. Your true audience may not be who or what you expect it to be, and you need to revise your target to reach those who are already listening to you.
  • Sample: You do not have enough followers. If you have too small of a social following to get legitimate results, you may need to grow your audience before you can trust the numbers. Your followers should be in the thousands, not the hundreds before you put too much stock in your data.

The more data you have about your current and desired customers the better, and social listening is a great way to gather it so you can refine your marketing message and make sure it is consistent across the web.


Once you have created a persona and gathered data, it is time to place some ads in different places and using different media and see what happens. For this stage to be effective, you need to use some tricks to determine where you customers are finding you. This can include things like a Google phone number unique to each ad, a hashtag, or a coupon code. Then you can not only determine ROI, but figure out if you are targeting the right places, places where your customers are.


The Right Time


Just because your ad is in the right place does not mean your customer will see it. Your ad also needs to be there at the right time. Depending on the type of ad you have, you can control this to a certain extent.

Internet Ads

These ads can be presented by Google and other ad services at the time when a user is searching for your product, and will automatically be placed where your customer is browsing.

The drawback is that your customer may not be ready to buy at that moment, and you can’t really control where your ad appears on the page. In fact, website ads are often placed incorrectly by site owners, and there is nothing you can do to change that.

The advantage is that your ad will appear often, especially if a visitor has already been to your site. You don’t get charged until the user clicks on it, and hopefully, that happens when it is time for them to buy.

The drawback, of course, is that you can get accidental or incidental clicks that do not result in conversions but still cost you money.

Another thing to consider when using internet ads: many web surfers use ad blocking software, which reduces the number of times that your ad will even be displayed, let alone seen and acted upon.

Fixed Ads

Fixed ads are on all the time, so your customer sees them whenever they encounter them. If they are in the right place, the odds are that they will be there at the right time. However, they will also be there at the wrong time.

Fixed ads include print ads, posters, and physical signs including billboards. This type of ad is usually pretty expensive, as the seller likes to talk about the number of visitors who could potentially see it every day or the reach of their publication.

These ads can be effective if you have a strong brand and brand presence. It is often hard to measure ROI from them because they create a certain brand awareness. This may result in organic traffic where the user does not call a unique number or use a special coupon code they saw. This means you may not see direct, measurable results.

Digital Ads

An alternative to traditional billboards and fixed ads are digital ads. These signs or digital billboards change in various intervals, only briefly showing your ad. These signs may also show other content or have menus or building guides on them.

Typically, these signs are placed in public areas, stores, or restaurants, or stores although they are spreading to other locations, including in taxis and other means of transportation. Digital signs come in a number of forms and sizes, from small television screens to full-size billboards. Think of the ads you see on the big screen at sporting events: the big screen is another form of digital sign.

Think of when you see these ads: when you are at a sporting event you see ads for food, drink, and other services you may need. The advertiser is targeting you and meeting you where you already are. They offer to meet your needs either while you are at the stadium or in the coming week.

When smaller digital signs deliver other content, a building directory or a menu, and advertiser is marketing to you when you are already looking at the sign. If the ad is also in the right place, it will offer you entertainment, dining, or other things you may need in that area or in some cases services you or your business might need if you are visiting a particular building or office.

Digital signage in restaurants, bars, and even retail locations works the same way: the customer is already looking for something. They have money and are ready to spend it. The advertisement simply reaches them at that time and shows them choices related to how to spend that money.


The Right Message


Once you have discovered where your customers are and when you can best reach them, you need to be sure you are sending the right message. Simply shouting “buy my product” will not reach most customers. Your message must do one or more of a few simple things.

Create Awareness

Many ads live at the top of the marketing funnel: this is simply known as the awareness stage. For a customer to buy from you, first they must know you exist. Sometimes the only purpose of an ad is to spread that simple message. Think about how often you might have walked by a small shop or restaurant and thought or even said: “I had no idea that was there.”

Your future customers may be right under your nose, and they may not even know that you exist or what you do, let alone whether they want to buy from you or not.

Distribute Information

Once a customer is aware of your business, they need to know more information. You can’t give them much in a small ad even if you created a 30 or 60-second commercial. You can inform them where they can get more information (your website or by texting a special number or via email).

Typically, this goes hand in hand with creating awareness: unless the person viewing the ad knows where you are or how to reach you, it is pretty useless. There are a few exceptions to this, like large national brands like Pepsi or Coke. Even then, you usually see an image that indicates how refreshing the drink is, or says simply “Available Everywhere.”

Call to Action

Another way to reach a customer with an ad is to include a call to action. This usually comes in the form of an offer of some sort.

This can be a part of the distribution of information: “Text “Yes” to 55555 to receive a 10% discount.” This offer can be anything from a discount (as in the example) to subscribe to updates or a special coupon for visitors who saw your ad in a certain place. For instance, “Get 10% off your meal by mentioning you saw this ad in the Free Ride shuttle.”

This offer can not only help you increase traffic, but also track where your customers are coming from so you can determine your ROI from certain ads. Is your ad in the right place at the right time? If your message is on point, you can determine this through your call to action.


The Ideal Ad


The ideal ad will incorporate all these elements. It will be displayed at the right time in the right place. The message will create awareness, distribute information, and have a call to action. There are many ways to achieve all those things in a simple way. Questions about the right time and place for your ad? Contact us by emailing We are here to help you grow your business by finding your next customer.

Troy Lambert
Troy Lambert
Troy is a content strategist, freelance writer, and consultant from Boise, Idaho. He lives there with his wife, son, and two very talented dogs. In his spare time, he is a cyclist, skier, motorcyclist, and all around outdoorsman.

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