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Small-business Savvy: Effective Marketing

Glenn Muske, NDSU Extension rural and agribusiness enterprise development specialist (NDSU photo) Glenn Muske, NDSU Extension rural and agribusiness enterprise development specialist (NDSU photo)
Knowing your audience can help determine the marketing methods you use.

By Glenn Muske, Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

I am not a regular television watcher but happened to catch a “60 Minutes” episode recently ( The episode focused on how influencers are marketing using social media.

Although I follow and use several social media platforms to help reach small-business owners, most of this information was new to me. But it was not surprising. Social media has great capacity to reach certain audiences. And it can do it quickly while ignoring conventional marketing practices.

So what does this mean for your marketing effort? Perhaps a lot or maybe something, or it could mean nothing at all.

The intent of this article is to help you get the greatest return from your marketing.

When looking for return, the first thing you must do is define what that means to you. Is it simply the number of people who see your marketing, or is it an increase in revenue?

Once you know what you are looking for, your next step is to know your audience or audiences;

  • Who are they?
  • What is their most pressing problem, desire or issue?
  • Where are they getting their information, who are they following, and when and how are they accessing the information?
  • What motivates them to take action?
  • Whom do they trust?

This information can help you determine what marketing channels might be your most effective tool. Is it traditional channels, including print, radio, television, customer service and public relations, or something online, from a website to email to videos?

Yet don’t assume this information is constant. We know that the boomers are rapidly moving online, so what worked today might fail tomorrow.

Your information also will give you an idea of who is “trusted” by each audience. For example, while the silent generation and baby boomers might trust certain key figures, the millennials look toward people like themselves.

Chances are, you will need to use several channels. I say this because you probably are looking to attract a diversity of people. Also, even within one group, you cannot assume they all are alike. I, for example, am much more into social media than is my spouse.

What is important, as you are deciding on marketing channels, is the three basic building blocks of marketing. These are yourself and your networking, your reputation/brand and your ambassadors, or those who are telling your story for you.

So as you plan your marketing, remember:

  • Your audience should guide what you do.
  • Keep measuring.
  • Be ready to change.

By doing these three things, you will increase your chances of having effective marketing.

For more help, visit our website,, and sign up for the monthly newsletter.

More information is available at your local Extension office, as well as at and

The Small Business Administration and its related organizations, such as the Small Business Development Centers and Service Corps of Retired Executives, along with many other state agencies, also can be valuable resources.

NDSU Agriculture Communication - Dec. 15, 2016

Source:Glenn Muske, 701-328-9718,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, 701-231-5391,
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