One of the biggest marketing challenges is accepting the difference between finding customers who WILL buy over those MOST LIKELY to buy. This is one of the toughest marketing concepts to get a business to embrace, and possibly the most important.
Most owners and sales professionals see narrowing down their customer targets as leaving money on the table. What they do not realize is that it is money they do not have anyway! We spend more energy trying to protect potential customers than we do finding real ones!
A friend of mine owns a company that installs nothing but stair rails in existing houses (not even new ones), and makes few million dollars a year doing it. They don’t even do finish work; just unfinished stair rails. They could have all the other interior woodwork they want, but have learned that they make more money focusing on a very narrow market than they would by being all things to all customers. I know a number of guys struggling to make a living by taking on any kind of woodwork available. They should take a lesson from the stair rail guy and narrow their market considerably so they can make more money.
Take a serious look at your business through the eyes of those MOST LIKELY to buy from you, not from whom you hope will find you. You can then focus your marketing in a way that will generate the most return. Who catches the most fish? The one who baits the hook, has the best rod, or who knows where the fish are? Who are your fish?
A friend of mine tells of a mortgage broker living on the east coast who decided to narrow his market to “waterfront mortgages”. By doing so he increased his revenue significantly in a few months. It’s counter-intuitive, but people like experts, not generalists. And they will pay more for the expert. Not only will you get more business, you will get it at higher margins.
I can hear you now, “But what about those other markets I COULD do business in?” It’s true there are thousands of places you can set up your tent. What I am saying is pick one. You don’t have enough money to go broad – go deep. It is a proven fact that using a shotgun approach to your marketing will net you shotgun results. Shooting a gun in the woods is not bear hunting.
Focusing on a narrow market doesn’t just reduce your marketing costs, it reduces your operating costs. There is less running around, and more knowledge of your market, which creates lower operating costs. And, people in a narrow market talk. In a former company, we landed Microsoft and others lined up behind them as they spread the word about our narrow focus on hi-techs.
Coca-cola can afford to leaflet bomb broad markets. Play by their rules and you will lose. Pick a narrow market and go deep for a lot less money. Stop thinking about WHO could buy and start focusing on who is MOST LIKELY to buy. It is so much easier! By taking the time to figure out who your most likely clients are, it becomes obvious how to reach them. Your purpose becomes clearer, and your efforts are more likely to build on each other.
Dare to go deep instead of broad. You’ll spend less marketing money, increase your operational effectiveness, create more buzz in the narrow market you’ve chosen, and end up getting more business. Yes, everyone COULD buy. Start with those MOST LIKELY to buy. Once you’ve got a bucket load of them, feel free to go after other markets.