January 21, 2008
Business owners have a tendency to want to market to anyone with a wallet. This is called “shotgun marketing” and it’s pretty ineffectual and expensive. Even Pepsi has a specific demographic they go after. It helps define their brand image, brings clarity to their message and helps to establish what media to use.
Take a long look at your client list. You’ll notice that some clients bring steady revenue, some bring large one-off payments and some might even cost more to service than you earn. We’ll start with categorizing them in 2 basic groups: Win/Win and Win/Lose, where in Win/Win it means a “Win” for the client and a “Win” for you. In the second category, Win/Lose, we put the clients that keep you on the phone a lot, always need hand holding, require constant “tweaks” or just generally take up much of your time - remember, your time is worth money. So it might be a “Win” for the client but not necessarily a “Win” for you.
Once you have your 2 lists, you need to look for any similarities. Are they in the same industry, same age group or same sex? Do they have 5 or less employees, are they proficient with technology, or are they penny pinchers? Are they a generation that didn’t grow up with technology, are they more artsy types, or do they pay close attention to detail? Also look at the type of work you do for your clients in each category. Some work may have a big payday but sometimes slow and steady wins the race. Depending on your industry, you will see patterns that may surprise you. It will be easier than you think to find the similarities.
Once you have the similarities of the Win/Win group, now you can start brainstorming people, industries and finally companies that you feel are comparable. Make a long laundry list and then do your research. Look at these companies on the internet, request a media kit, do an anonymous phone interview or ask colleagues in their industry. Make sure they are in need of your product or service.
I have built my Win/Win profile, input the industry type and a few other parameters into a list service like infoUSA and come back with as many as 50 companies. I then discarded about half as a “no fit” right off the top. Then I did my research online and through reputable sources and came up with a short list of about 5 “good fits” and a like number of “maybes”.
Now you can go out and network in the community - find out who knows who. Once you have an inside contact from a qualified source, then you need to have good materials such as a capabilities study and some good people skills to get in and build the relationship. Remember, it’s easier working from the top down than the bottom up. Just walking in the front door of a company doesn’t have a great closing rate. There is truth to the idea that it’s not what you know but who you know.
By the same token, from the Win/Lose list, you will start to see the type of clients you have that aren’t so profitable. You can use this to be more selective in the future about what accounts you go after. I choose to have alternate solutions for those clients that aren’t necessarily a good fit for my company. I always want to offer a prospect a good solution for their needs. In my case, it might be a freelance artist I know and trust who doesn’t have the overhead that my company does. In that way, I turn a Win/Lose into a Win/Win. And who knows? Maybe they will come back someday and be a good fit.
Now get out there and look good!
©2008 Motley Creations