Your Marketing Audience: Better to Rent or Own?


As a small business owner, you’re always looking for ways to get the most out of your marketing efforts. One crucial decision you’ll face is renting or owning your marketing audience. Here’s what you need to know:

Why Repeat Customers Matter

Repeat customers often spend more than first-time ones. Focusing on repeat business is a smart move if you aim to boost your sales and foster loyalty. One effective strategy to achieve this is by owning a list of your customers and engaging with them regularly.

Understanding Marketing Channels

In marketing, the platforms you use to share your message are called channels. These can be broadly categorized into two types:

  1. Rented Channels: These are platforms where you pay to access an audience. Think of TV or radio ads. You pay for a slot, and and your ad runs, but once you stop paying, your ad stops. It’s a short-term approach.
  2. Owned Channels: This is when you build your audience list, like collecting email addresses or growing a social media following. It’s a long-term investment, allowing you to communicate without continuously paying for access.

The Power of Owning Your Audience

Building your own list, whether it’s through email, social media, or even text messaging, offers several advantages:

  • Deeper Relationships: Engaging with your audience regularly helps them understand the value you offer, fostering trust and loyalty.
  • Cost-Effective: There might be an initial cost in acquiring a customer’s information, but once you have it, you can communicate without additional expenses.
  • Higher Spending: Studies have shown that repeat customers often spend more than new ones. Regularly engaging with your audience can lead to increased sales.

Strategies to Convert Rented Audiences to Owned Ones

If you’re investing in rented channels, ensure you have mechanisms in place to capture customer information. For instance:

  • Email Collection: Offer a discount or a special offer in exchange for an email address.
  • Engage on Social Media: Share valuable insights, answer queries, and encourage followers to sign up for newsletters or special deals.
  • Host Events: Organize workshops, webinars, or seminars and collect participant details.

Practical and Tactical Engagement Strategies

Once you’ve collected customer data, engaging with them in meaningful ways that resonate with their needs and interests is essential. Here are some practical and tactical strategies tailored for small business owners:

  1. Personalized Email Campaigns:
    • Example: If you run a local bakery and have collected email addresses, send out monthly newsletters featuring a “Recipe of the Month” using one of your best-selling products. Include a special discount code for subscribers to encourage them to visit and purchase.
  2. Exclusive Offers for Loyal Customers:
    • Example: Offer a “Loyalty Card” for repeat customers. After a certain number of purchases, they get a product for free. Inform them of this offer via text or email, making them feel valued.
  3. Feedback and Surveys:
    • Example: After a customer makes a purchase, send them a short survey asking about their experience. Offer a small discount on their next purchase as a thank you for their time.
  4. Engaging Social Media Posts:
    • Example: If you own a local gym, post weekly workout challenges on your social media platforms. Encourage followers to share their progress and tag your business. This not only engages your current followers but also helps in reaching a broader audience.
  5. Webinars and Online Workshops:
    • Example: If you’re in the crafts business, host a monthly online workshop teaching a particular craft skill. Promote this on your website and social media, and ask participants to sign up via email.
  6. Birthday and Anniversary Specials:
    • Example: Send out personalized birthday wishes with a special discount or a freebie. It’s a small gesture that can make your customers feel special and appreciated.

In Conclusion

For small business owners, every marketing decision can have significant implications. While renting an audience offers quick results, owning your audience is a sustainable, long-term strategy that can lead to deeper customer relationships and increased sales.

Remember, the key is consistency. Regular, meaningful engagement can turn a one-time customer into a loyal patron who returns and refers others to your business.

As you plan your marketing strategies, always consider ways to grow and engage with your own list.