I often ask businesspeople who own or manage carpet cleaning companies, “Who is your targeted market, your ideal customer?”
Most of the time, the answers I receive are a disappointing “Everyone.”
Sometimes the answers are more specific, such as, “Everyone with carpet in my town.”
Naturally, we all want to sell our products and services to as many prospects as possible. But let’s face it… we can’t sell to everyone, especially if we have a limited promotional budget.
A wide spectrum
The problem of trying to appeal to “everyone” is that your message becomes so diluted it becomes irrelevant to all, instead of important to some.
Those on a limited budget will pass you by because you will appear to be too expensive, too high quality, and will be seduced by the bargain basement “bait-and-switch” outfits whose promotional material and sales presentations are well designed to appeal to the low-end customer.
The middle class customer will, when they see appeals to both low-end and high-end customers, will wonder whether they should call you or not.
You will appear too cheap or too promotional to those on the other end of the spectrum who want, can afford and are willing to pay for high quality, high service work. They will pass your website and other promotional material with barely a glance since they are seeking a plush, exclusive look.
Choose the ideal customer
It is so much better if you identify and define a targeted “ideal” customer, develop methods to attract them and become important to them.
In marketing terms, this is called “niche marketing.” It is effective because, if your marketing communicates well to those “ideal prospects,” they will realize the benefits of buying from you.
Think of the people that are easier for you to sell to, easier to talk to and who appreciate the level of work you do.
How can you define them? Look at your customer list and sort it by zip code or, in a large city, sort them by neighborhood or subdivision. To get a visual of your customer’s geographic distribution you can use mapping software or even pushpins in a map.
Consider their economic distribution by dividing them into three to five different categories from “Lush Plush Acres” to “Hard Scrabble Folks.”
In some urban areas, there might be an ethnic distribution to consider as well.
What you are looking for is an understanding of your customer base and to determine whom you should be seeking to attract with your marketing and advertising. Yes, those are different things! You do this because you want to communicate to your defined prospect base as clearly as possible in ways they will find appealing.
Now think for a moment of the signage for Dollar Stores and Tiffany’s. You can tell from 100 yards away the level of quality, service and price they offer.
As a general observation, neither Tiffany’s nor the Dollar Store want to attract each other’s customers because they don’t want to waste time or effort on people who can’t or won’t want to buy from them.
- It is far less expensive to market to a narrow niche than it is to attempt to attract “everyone.”
- It is far easier to develop a brand that resonates with a narrow niche than one that attracts “everyone.”
- It is far easier to develop customer service and retention programs that the narrow niche will react positively to rather than programs designed for “everyone.”
- It is far easier to become a big fish in a small pond where you dominate your market than becoming a small fish in an ocean where you will find it difficult to survive from predators.
Marketing to a specific niche requires that the targeted market is clearly defined and identified and that, through research, it is determined that the niche is large enough to support your ambitions.
Once the prospects are defined and identified, a strategy to reach those prospective “ideal customers” is created, tested and, assuming the tests are successful, then your strategy is implemented.
When those targeted “ideal customers” start buying, the service and retention programs you designed to keep them returning to buy from you kick in and you are then successfully marketing to a specific niche.
Yes, I know that this is much easier said than done, but I can assure you that this process is far more effective and successful attempting to sell to “everyone!”
Do the research
Today, doing market research is pretty easy because of all the information available on the Internet.
Use maps and the latest census reports to find the people your company is set up to serve best. If you are not comfortable researching using the Internet, spend a little time at your local library. Most librarians in the research department are happy to help you find and interpret the data you need.
Find where your targeted market lives and discover how best to reach them economically.
Analyze your competition
Obviously, you will not be the only company seeking these prospects.
Identify your competition. Study their websites. Discover what their pricing strategy is, the services they offer and the way they promote their services.
Observe the way their vehicles appear to the public and develop methods of being more attractive to your best prospects.
Hone your sales efforts
Create scripts for the way you answer the telephone, develop clear, forward-moving answers to every question you are asked about your services and your company.
Have a flip chart, Power Point presentation on a laptop or tablet, brochures or other visual method of explaining your services and pricing to your customers in a clear, professional and benefit-heavy manner that shows respect and integrity.
Then create a systematic, constant, targeted action plan to market to your most likely prospects — the niche of prospects you have chosen because you’ve found them easier to sell to and profitable.
So, when I ask you that question — “Who is your ideal customer? —you will, instead of saying “everyone,” say something like, “Those who own a home in the northwest side of [insert the name of town, zip code, county, etc.] with an income between [insert dollar amounts].”
If you say something like that, I’ll know that you have a high probability of having a growing, profitable company with a bright future, because you know who you want to attract and now you have a plant to attract them.
Discover how “Excellent” your company is. Take Larry Galler’s free “Culture of Excellence” assessment. Just send an e-mail to Larry@LarryGaller.com and put “Excellence Assessment” in the subject line.