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Know your customers: marketing your business

Understanding your customers will help you tailor your marketing plan

May 10, 2021  By Dave Mercer

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Figure out who your customers are and how they find you, and tailor your marketing efforts accordingly. But surprisingly, many companies struggle to do just that. Marketing companies aren’t always helpful. They are pushing so many different marketing tools and strategies that you can lose track of your goal. Before you know it, you’ve paid for a corporate video and have signed a hefty contract for monthly web maintenance and you’re still not sure if you’re getting your name and message out to potential customers.  

It doesn’t have to be that complicated. The following examples show how different types of businesses can use different marketing techniques to their advantage by initially understanding their customers.

Firstly, consider a small contractor who plies a trade in a local area. Most of their business comes from new customers who need their type of work only occasionally. How does this contractor get noticed and convince people to call them? In the old days most of their customers probably found them in the Yellow Pages. They wanted to be seen first and so they would have had a company name like AAA Plumbing and maybe even splurged for a Yellow Pages ad. Other than that, they relied on word of mouth to do their marketing.


Today people find you online, and since over 95 per cent of people use Google when they do a search, this means you must master Google. It’s a little more complicated than buying a listing in the Yellow Pages, but it mainly involves logging into Google My Business (, filling out your business profile and populating it with testimonials. There are plenty of resources online to guide you, or you can work with a marketing specialist to give you a hand. 

Compare the small contractor to a consulting company that works regionally, or even globally. What do consultants need to do to get the word out and attract clients? Consultants offer services that are based on their knowledge, essentially selling their brain power. To that end, in marketing terms they need to become established as a “thought leaders,” and they need more than Google to accomplish that.

A thought leader is someone (or a company) that is recognized as an expert in their field. Successful consulting companies not only do good work: they must also be visible in their industry. Marketing for thought leaders involves helping them communicate their level of expertise to the marketplace. Their people need to present at conferences and submit papers to journals. They need to be on boards of industry and trade associations. And, they need to network. All this combined helps consultants to market themselves and their company. An effective marketing plan then helps them determine where, when and how to be visible.  

These examples are, of course, an oversimplification. In the groundwater industry, contractors like drillers and pump installers can be thought leaders too, so they may need more than a good Google presence to reach their customers. Still, whatever part of the industry you work in, if you keep your attention on your customers and how they find you, you will be able to develop a marketing plan that works best for you. 

And it’s worth it. Marketing done right means less sales work. Whether mastering Google or creating an in-depth plan, good marketing brings clients to you, so you don’t have to go find them.

Dave Mercer, P. Geo, is a geologist who specializes in marketing and communications for companies that work in the groundwater industry. Dave offers consulting services to companies looking to up their marketing presence and grow their business. He is also currently general manager of the British Columbia Ground Water Association. Dave can be reached at 

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