Monday, May 18, 2009

Do you know your Target Market? If you don't read this article 3 times!!!

Get Gonnected-Make It Happen Special article.

This article tells you very directly to realize what resources you have around you and market and promote to them early and often.

To be sure you are presenting the right offering to the right market, we began by taking a cold hard look at your market and where the opportunities are.
Possibly one opportunity is to narrow your service to better address the worries of your customers and the challenges in the marketplace. Focus on them - look at your existing customers as if they are the reason for your business. Talk to them about their concerns and worries and actually listen. Tell them you'll do what ever to help them with their worries. Engage some people in your company regarding how you can continue to make sure you treat your customers as being very special. Don't let customers get away because of indifference or your lack of attention. Out humanize your competitors.

You probably learned when you took a few actions that your company isn't as attentive as you thought you were, and how such simple things as being really interested in your customers work. You also learned some things about the marketplace. Now let's leverage these learnings.

Principle #3
Your existing customers will save you. Be clear about why a customer should deal with you - then maximize every interaction to increase your margins and make sure the customers see your difference.

Focus on knowing your clients, what they want and match your offering around their motivations to buy is tantamount to beginning to see your differentiator. Michael Porter of Harvard would say you have 3 choices of strategies. Differentiate, focus by a particular segment or overall cost leadership. These generic strategies are approaches to outperform your competitors so you can earn higher returns.

Differentiation: Be unique. One of our clients, Finning in Western Canada, provides Caterpillar tractors in the construction and oil sands industry. It is known for its great dealer network, availability of excellent spare parts, high quality durable products, which is crucial up North and where downtime is very expensive. For the last few years we've been helping them with customer service. They are difficult to compete with and they can increase margins due to their brand loyalty.

Low Cost: Our biggest worldwide customer is Walmart. It's very clear to all internal/external that cost reductions, tight costs, overhead control, cost minimization in service, sales, advertising and so on exist at Walmart. A great deal of managerial attention is necessary to yield above-average returns despite strong competitive forces. Competitors can't keep lowering their prices to compete. They usually go out of business while Walmart still earns returns despite low prices.

Focus: It's about serving a particular target very well and each functional policy is developed with this in mind. It is a form of differentiation. I have a client in Hamilton who devoted their entire existence to keeping Dofasco happy and profitable and built a very good business doing so. Other companies can focus on a narrow industry, not just one client but regardless, it works and is a great defense against competitors.

Most of us probably sell to a broad market and haven't invested in mechanisms to make us low cost at much, so differentiation is our ticket to compete. It requires that we have marketing abilities, a great compelling story, a creative flair, we listen to the market, have strong affiliates or cooperation from channels, close internal coordination between R&D, offer development, marketing and sales and we attract talent who match our offering.

The question is, "Why should I buy from you?" If you can't answer this, you aren't different and you better be a strategic low cost company for you'll be battling for price alone. If your story and marketing doesn't distinguish you, then even your best customers will flee when they get a better offer.

Get this right and you'll thrive in the recovery and the upswing that is coming - get ready.

We'll talk soon about the messaging, the story and the marketing necessary to grab market.

Let's talk about how to leverage every interaction with your existing clients. Now we're getting very tactical.

There is not a company that exists that fully maximizes the potential inherent in its customer base. In fact most feel they do and they don't, or stubbornly refuse to change their methods when it comes to marketing/ selling to their existing clients. Even in tougher times.

In the early nineties recession, my associate (now our President), Kathie Mather, told me to quit fretting over our overhead and declining sales and get out of my office and meet with some of our old clients to see if we could help them survive. Well I said, "Okay, if you'll do it too." And off we went!

After visiting many clients and listening to a lot of sad stories, we started to put together a way to support them. After all, we had a lot of competent people not as active as they usually were who could help. It resulted in the creation of 3 new services that helped our clients and us survive and thrive for many years. (Today those business services are continually used in 70 countries throughout the world of Dale Carnegie - from China to Brazil.)

The Point: Your best prospects are your existing customers.

I suggest before you put money into finding new customers, stop and divert some of your resources into reselling, up selling and cross-selling to your existing customers.

In every way possible:

Get in touch - whether by phone, mail, email or in person (all customers want to feel that they are special and that you take special interest in seeing to their needs).

Provide post-purchase reassurance each time a customer places an order with you. Call him/her a week after to see how it's going. This will put aside any post-purchase dissonance.

Give your customers the best deals and guarantees that you can possibly get away with. Don't be afraid to be compelling and stand out. Remember to match with what will motivate them to buy.

Listen for the situations they are in and the impact your products/services can help solve. You could come up with some creative ways to market and/or deliver that impact. Sometimes it's the littlest things that we miss that if we had listened, could be turned into a real new offering. We need to hear the impact our products/services could have and then package or bundle and sell it to them and others. Creativity is mainly about listening.

Build rapport and trust. After all, that's all that's missing most times from new customers buying from you. It's the same for existing customers in tough times. Be as honest as you can be with your customers. People do business with ethical people they can trust. Here is our 1990 not too slick, but honest offer after listening to our customers: "Looks like we have people sitting around and you are struggling so why don't we get our people to put their heads together and see if we can help you grow. Any cost is too much if what you buy doesn't help you grow."

Keep an accurate and timely customer list. Work this list. As boring as this principle sounds, I'm always amazed at how few times companies don't even have this. They have transactional buyers and they don't get the DNA for each customer. Many times they don't even know their target's names. Set up a preferred valuable customer campaign for this list now - throw all you have at your best customers.

Up sell or resell right at, or immediately after the initial sale and you can dramatically improve your profits. Offer a package of related items or services for a 20 to 30% discount if they buy now. Upgrade the sale by offering a $200 off for example, a superior version of what they are buying if they upgrade now.

Read the following sentence three times so you will let the right side of your brain hear it:
Customers are silently begging to be acknowledged, informed, given advanced opportunities and led to action.

Read it again. Did it sink in yet?

If you insert "your people" instead of customers into the sentence, you will realize an even greater importance of this principle.

Regardless of what business you are in, this concept works anywhere.

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