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This is it. The halfway point on our journey to building a truly strategic approach to your marketing plan. For the past three weeks, we’ve talked about where your customers are coming from, how they find you, and how to begin building a relationship that leads to conversions and sales transactions. We’re shifting this week, not away from those topics, but attacking them from a slightly different angle.

While, yes, it’s great that any potential customer finds you, now we’re going to look at narrowing that focus even more. You don’t want just any customer – you want the customers you can best serve. The customers who need what you offer at the level you offer it. If their needs are too small, you may be spending too many resources to get and serve them. If their needs are too large, you may end up over your head, or outsourcing more than you’d like. Again, you’ll spend too many resources.

You remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? The porridge was too hot, too cold, then just right. When she sat in the chairs, one was too tall, one too short, and one just right. Finally, the beds were too hard, too soft, and just right.

The key to the best strategic marketing solutions is that they target the customers that are “just right.” You want the perfect, ideal customer that you can serve the best with the exact right amount of resources to make you both very happy.

It’s just not cost effective otherwise.

Back Scratch Fever

For today and the next two weeks following, we’ll be doing a bit of cost-benefit analysis. The idea being to isolate that sweet spot where your ideal customer lives and does business. Part of this analysis is discovering what kind of solutions your target customer wants. The rest is being honest about what you can and will offer. And what you’re really selling.

For example, let’s say we have two companies that install pools. One is a small contractor. He employs himself and two assistants, and they do a thriving single family business. The second is still a small business, but this second company has 4 three-man teams – supervisor and two assistants, and the owner often subcontracts with smaller companies, like Company One, for larger jobs.

While there are some jobs they may compete for, they’re not really in competition. Company One does better with single family homes and pools. Company Two works better for larger installations, and especially pre-construction gated communities, with multiple pools. If someone comes to Company One with a large job, say a block of units that all need pools, he can bid on them himself. But if he’s smart, he recommends Company Two, knowing they can handle it better. And they’re likely to hire his crew to do one of the jobs at his regular rate, especially if they know he recommended them.

By the same token, if Company Two is approached about a small job, unless she’s desperate she can recommend Company One who works at a lower rate and keep all of her teams available for larger jobs. Both help the customers they can best serve. Both escape the added stress of working on jobs that aren’t perfect for them. And they both stay busy.

They aren’t competing with each other. They’re in symbiosis.

Keeping It Cool

TV Producer Norman Lear, who created All in The Family, The Jeffersons and One Day at a Time, among many, many other shows, will turns 98 this month. In his autobiography, Even This I Get to Experience, he talks about growing up in Brooklyn, and the kids all getting excited when the Iceman showed up.

You see, back in the 20’s and 30’s, ice would be cut out of frozen lakes and ponds and the Iceman would go door to door, hauling huge 200-pound blocks of ice to cut smaller pieces from. The ice was used to cool the literal “ice boxes” in homes. Women would place a card in their window, showing how big a block they needed. Lear says young kids would trail behind him, delighted with the slivers of ice shaved off, much like they do the Ice Cream Truck now.

During the Great Depression, the National Housing Act of 1934 offered low interest loans for household modernization, including electric appliances. With prices dropping, most families invested in the now affordable refrigerators.

Companies that had spent 75-150 years focused on procuring and supplying ice were rapidly rendered obsolete. With the exception of Amish communities, the market became dominated by electric appliance companies. Within 30 years, a Billion-dollar (adjusted for inflation) industry all but disappeared.

The problem was not technology, electricity or modernization. The problem was perception. You see, these companies saw themselves as ice providers. But what their customers bought from them was the ability to preserve food longer by keeping it cold. They didn’t need ice. They needed refrigeration.

Had the American Ice Company or the Union Ice Company known what they were selling, they likely would have maintained their dominance over the small Guardian Frigerator Company. And we would have never heard of Frigidaire.

Counting the Costs

So I ask again, what are you selling? Are you making widgets, or are you offering peace of mind?

The distinction is important. Remember, people sell to people, and people buy based on an emotional reaction. So what emotion are you creating with your product or service – and be specific.

Do customers come to you for a short term fix, or a long-term solution? Or both? As I’ve said before, neither answer is a bad one. But not knowing the answer can cripple your marketing strategy. There’s no sense spending the time and money to get the attention of someone who needs a weekly or monthly service, when you specialize in one off solutions. By the same token, you can stand out more for someone who’s looking for something in the moment. They might not want a long-term contract or to try wading through the aisles of an oversized one stop shopping experience.

Know what your customers want, what you’re really selling and how that makes them feel. In the next two installments, we’ll look at the cost of acquiring a customer, and what their long-term value is. Remember, even customers looking for short term fixes will likely need other short term fixes in the future. If you gave them exactly what they needed before, they’re likely to come back.

Especially if you’ve made it clear what you’re actually selling – and they know it.

With these keys, we can fully leverage your marketing strategy to help you grow your business dream into a success. Next week, we’ll look at how much it costs to get a customer and how much it costs to keep them. Both are necessary calculations for your ideal marketing strategy.

If you have any general questions, please drop them in the comments section. For specific inquiries or if you want to get a jump start on your marketing strategy right now, please reach out. We’d be happy to get you on track to success!

If you missed any of the other articles in this series, the links to them are included below.

7 Questions Your Small Business Should Ask to Focus & Track Key Performance Indicators in Your Marketing Strategy

Where Are Your Customers Coming From?

How Are Your Customers Finding You?

How Often Does Finding You Lead to a Transaction?

What’s The Cost to Get a Customer?

What is the Lifetime Value of a Customer?