It is impossible to offer something that will appeal to everyone. There really is no such thing as a universal product.
Coca-Cola have had a damn good go at it, however despite their best efforts people do drink other things. In Scotland, they’ve sent in marketing task forces and still haven’t managed to knock Irn-Bru off the number one soft drink spot.
If a multinational company with a billion dollar marketing budget can’t achieve it, then it’s probably safe to say that it can’t be done.
Microsoft are still trying to prove it can be done, but the growing number of Mac users seems to indicate that they aren’t going to achieve total dominance.
So where does that leave small businesses? Actually in a much easier position than large ones.
Major companies have to do their best to appeal to large and diverse demographics. This means they have to appeal to the lowest common denominator which makes customer targeting very broad and general.
In contrast, a smaller company can laser-target its market. This means that it can design everything for that market while reducing its costs by only marketing at the people they want.
Take for example a consultant who has just set up business. He may only be able to deal with 10 clients a year. In that case, if he worked on a 5% success rate then he would only need to target 200 companies. He can therefore define a niche of exactly who he wants to deal with. This niche approach allows him to tailor his services to fit their needs exactly, position himself in this light and then design his marketing just for them.
It is this extra care that will make him stand out and give him a good conversion rate from potential prospect to profitable client.
In addition to carefully defining who you want as a client, it is also worthwhile describing who you don’t want to deal with. This helps considerably with your marketing.
For example, do you want to have clients who:
- Always try to beat your price down
- Are constantly demanding more from you for free
- Don’t listen to your advice
- Moan continually
- Don’t pay you
- Will move to another supplier to save 20p
- Don’t respect you or your experience
- Have suspect business ethics (e.g. they rip off their own clients)
As a note: people you meet who have some of the above, usually have the rest.
I’ve met many business people and all of them have had experience of these types of customers. In fact, one of my contacts tells these people when they come to him to renew their contract with him that he’s increased his rates for them and actually gives them a list of his competitors that they should try.
Some pay the extra and some leave. He’s happy either way!
It’s a useful exercise to make a list of who you don’t want to work with. I did my list several years ago. It has a number of things on it to do with the type of businesses I didn’t want to work with. Then, stupidly, I broke it for one client in 2009. This was a mistake; both for me and the client.
I learned my lesson and now refer these types of businesses on to others. I also now deliberately position myself so as not to attract these types of businesses to start with.
The old adage is true that birds of a feather flock together and future clients often judge you by your current clients. So be very careful before taking on someone who doesn’t fit your profile as they may put off people who do fit it from working with you.