Which customer groups can you reach through the Web?

Does Anyone Use the Web to Look for ….?

Over the ten years that I’ve been doing Web marketing, several times I’ve been in conversations about which populations of prospects can be reached through the Internet. One of the first was about extremely high-end customers who, ten years ago, would spend $3,000 a night or more for a vacation rental. More recently it’s been asked about people seeking surgery, people who are not at all wealthy, for people looking for expert consultants to advise insurance companies about settlements, and so on.

Ask the Right Question

The question to ask is not whether the population you want to reach uses the Internet–the real question is whether you can reach them through the Internet. For example, Matt Lauer likely doesn’t spend a lot of time surfing the Internet–he has someone to do it for him. And, as it turned out, for the high-end vacation rentals, the Web was a great way to reach them. Because they had assistants to surf for them. And even call for the reservation and make all the arrangements for their trip.
Today the question is largely moot, although it is still asked. At one end of the income scale, prospects have help to surf the Internet. At the other end, if your prospects don’t have Internet access, a friend may do it for them. Of course, there’s no guarantee that everything can be sold on the Internet. However, every time I’ve seen the question asked, in many many different situations, where the answer was not obvious, it’s always been the same–yes, we could reach that group of prospects.
With marketing, it’s important to try new things constantly, and keep measuring them to see what works. So if you wonder whether your prospects can be reached through the Web, build a site and give it a try. But until you’re sure that you can get the business results you seek, go small. Invest less than you might in your first Web site, try a small-scale Adwords campaign to get traffic quickly, and see how things develop.

The Bottom Line

The answer to “Can I reach my prospects on the Web?” is most likely “Yes!” But you’ll never know until you try. So try on a small scale, keeping costs down until you’re sure you can reach your prospects on the Web. But do try, the opportunity to acquire customers at such a low marginal costs doesn’t exist anywhere else.

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