As a marketer, you’ve probably tried a wide range of ideas to figure out how to get the highest return on investment with marketing. This is a little like the search for El Dorado. If you remember, Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries believed that there was a place of immense wealth in the New World. The quest for this mythical place resulted in a large assortment of men wasting their lives in search of it. 

The reason why your quest for the ultimate vehicle that will deliver the highest ROI is mythical is because you’re looking in the wrong place. Forget finding the right strategy or the perfect channel; instead, focus on finding out more about your target audience. This will make all your marketing efforts relevant. You will discover that many of the strategies that you had abandoned before and many of the channels that you had given up on now begin to work in an uncannily successful way.

When you get insights about your customer’s wants, need, and desires, then you can tailor all your marketing efforts to help them get what they want. Instead of merely guessing what they want, you’ll have a fairly good idea of what they actually do want.

How will you get these insights? By asking them directly!

With that in mind, here are three direct ways to get marketing and customer intel so that you can fine-tune every aspect of your marketing and get a higher ROI:

1. Event marketing.

Event marketing is an umbrella term to describe a range of themed activities. An event could include a celebration of an occasion, a display, an exhibit, or a trade show. Usually, events are designed to promote a cause, a range of products, or an industry. As a marketer, you should focus on one particular type of event marketing: trade shows. A trade show will allow you to have a booth where you can interact with a wide range of visitors. Equipment for your exhibit might include the use of heavy duty tents, signage, posters, and marketing collateral (business cards, brochures, flyers, and so on.)

An exhibit at a trade show provides many benefits. While you will probably sell products, develop partner relationships and build your brand, the biggest benefit of participating in a trade show is that you will get to talk to a variety of people — and this will help you develop direct customer intelligence. Your conversations with potential buyers will give you direct insight into what products people in your market are most interested in. Besides getting a better grasp of customer preferences, you’ll also understand why people want what they want.

2. Seminars.

Just as trade shows allowed you to learn from conversations with customers, seminars in your industry will give you insights about the direction your industry is moving. You will speak with thought leaders, connect with fellow entrepreneurs, and learn from some of the best speakers on how to connect with your audience better.

3. Focus Groups.

A focus group is a demographically diverse collection of people who will participate in a discussion about your products, giving you feedback on their interests, preferences, price range, and so on. The information you’ve acquired from trade shows and seminars can be used to set up a highly organized focus group and guide the discussions to give you insights. Without your previous research efforts, you would not have a clear idea about whom to invite and what questions to ask. As a result, your lack of preparation would mean that your focus group would not be very focused.

The Customer Avatar

Talking to people at trade shows, industry-based seminars, and focus groups will give you more than enough information about your customers. The next step is to collate and organize all this information so that you can create a germane customer avatar.

The idea behind creating a customer avatar isn’t new, but many of the ways customer avatars are put together are far from methodical. Many avatars, for example, are just based on guesswork from the marketing and sales departments experience with their customers. Others are based on surveys which are somewhat arbitrary in who fills out the survey forms and limited by the amount of questions you could ask.

By talking to people directly, you’ll gather the most accurate information to shape your customer avatar. Now, armed with this information, you can decide what marketing strategies and channels would be most pertinent. Then, based on testing, you will be able to discover the one that yields the highest ROI. In fact, from the perspective of your competitors, you will appear to have developed a magic touch when it comes to attracting leads through relevant ads, when it comes to writing copy on landing pages that engages interest, and when it comes to creating a sales funnel that delivers the optimum buying experience. Instead of wasting money on random marketing efforts, everything you do will pay off for you.