Before you create any kind of marketing campaign, the first question you should ask is…

Who Is Your Target Prospect?

It’s easy to get lazy and say “Well, I want to sell more stuff, so my target prospect is anybody who would buy my stuff…

But come on, let’s be honest — if you’re aiming for “anybody,” you’re not aiming.

Instead, you are taking the “spray and pray” approach (and that’s NEVER the best approach…)

Why I Love Direct Mail

I never fully appreciated how important the concept of “choosing a target market” was until I was planning my first direct mail campaign some years ago.

Direct mail is such a great way to learn marketing principles because real money is on the line. You’re forced to make decisions, and you gain clarity. If you don’t make smart decisions with direct mail, you will lose your shirt.

I really wanted to try direct mail, but I was nervous about losing money, so I was very careful about selecting the right prospect list. Here’s a really basic run-down of how I went about the selection process:

1. I made a list of all the types of prospects who could conceivably be interested in my product.

2. I prioritized again based on number of prospects available. (In other words, traffic potential.)

3. I prioritized based on who seemed most likely to buy. (In other words, conversion potential)

After going through that research, I selected a very specific audience that I thought had the highest likelihood of wanting to buy my product. And I’m happy to report that as a result of this careful planning (and, I’ll be honest, some luck), my first direct mail campaign squeaked by with a slight profit.

I didn’t exactly strike it rich with the campaign (if I remember correctly, I think I spent about $600 and brought in $800), but I did learn a very valuable lesson in the planning process.  And I want to make sure that you learn this lesson, too, even if you never plan to use direct mail in your business.

Lesson: All prospects are NOT created equal. It always pays to focus.

Here’s What To Do Now

I’m going to assume you’ve got a product or service that you’re selling, you’ve already got some customers — and you want more customers.

Well, I’m a big believer in identifying what’s already working and then simply doing more of what’s working.

So, here’s the question you should answer: What type of customer is currently spending the most money with you?

Think about that question, analyze whatever customer data you have, and then create a detailed customer profile that’s representative of your target prospect.

Next, focus your traffic efforts (your ads, etc) around that target audience, so you can attract more of your ideal prospects.

And then, tailor your marketing messages specifically to that target prospect, so you’ll increase your response rates.

I know, this is “Marketing 101″… and it probably sounds overly simple, and that’s because it IS simple. But no matter how sophisticated or experienced you are, it’s always a good idea to step back periodically and make sure you’re connecting with the right prospects.