From the December 2010 issue of our newsletter, Let's Grow. For a FREE subscription, CLICK HERE

 A Roundup of Geographic Selection Tips

Part of the fun in our job is finding the most efficient way to reach a wide variety of markets with specific geographic parameters. The challenge is to find prospects such as these:

  • Affluent homeowners in coastal areas
  • Gardeners in low-rainfall areas
  • Urban homeowners
  • Avid gardeners east of the Mississippi
  • People in USDA zones 7 and warmer

More tools for geographic selection are becoming available all the time. Possibilities include:

Direct Mail. Direct mail has historically offered the most precise geographic targeting. Postage and printing costs also make it the most expensive option, so it may not be a viable choice for every company. Zip selects add somewhere between $6 and $10 per thousand to list rental costs.

Paid Search (Pay-Per-Click). One of the most cost-efficient ways to reach prospects in specific geographic areas is with a paid search campaign. Paid search providers (primarily Google Adwords, and to a lesser degree, Microsoft AdCenter) use IP addresses, and sometimes search terms, to determine when to show a geographically targeted paid search ad.

Google AdWords offers extremely flexible geographic targeting. You can specify specific states or cities. You can select a point on a map and specify a certain radius around it. Or you target a custom shape on a map, and even exclude selected locations within it.

Paid search ads don't offer much room for a sales pitch, but they're a great way to find prospects who are likely to be in shopping mode.

Magazines. Regional gardening magazines are an obvious choice for many gardening companies. With a little research, you may uncover other magazines that also work for you.

First, check circulation details of national gardening magazines. Your rep can usually tell you whether their circulation is above or below average for specific geographic regions. Often, they can also tell you whether their readership is skewed towards urban, suburban, small town or rural areas. If there's not too much unwanted circulation, national publications that skew towards your audience can be worthwhile.

Also look for non-gardening publications that reach your prime geographic area and that carry a lot of gardening ads. For instance, you might consider publications like Yankee magazine, Midwest Living or some of the rural electric coops.

Card Decks. Card decks go to a lot of gardeners, and are especially well suited for reaching those in small towns and rural areas. Geographic targeting is typically limited to the Eastern and Western portions of the United States, but sometimes that's just what fits the bill.

Radio. There are a handful of regional gardening radio shows. If one reaches your target area, consider giving it a try. Frequency is essential to making a radio campaign work, as is repeating your URL and/or phone number several times in each ad.

Coop Mailers. When most people think of mailers like Valpak and Money Mailer, they think of coupons for local businesses. But coop mailers like these also accept national advertising, and can be an affordable way to target very specific geographic areas. You'll be reaching everyone in your designated area, gardeners or not, so your offer needs to have a pretty wide appeal.

Facebook. The new kid on the block, Facebook uses IP addresses and Facebook users' profile information to target ads geographically. Advertisers can select by state or city, or specify a 10, 25 or 50 mile radius around a given city. Payment is either per click or per thousand impressions, and advertisers set the rate they're willing to pay.

If geography is a determining factor in targeting your market, new options are opening up all the time. Check out the possibilities, and you may find some profitable new avenues to broaden your customer base.

Grow Your Business -- Contact Val

Helpful Articles

For helpful how-to articles from past issues of Let’s Grow, our newsletter of marketing insights for the garden industry, click on the links below.