When I post this article, there will be at least five different people who ask me if I wrote this about them. Do they feel guilty, reading their actions in print? Have they done what I’m about to write about? Is this a common thing that ‘everybody does’? Am I the only marketer who experiences these clients?
First off, nope, it isn’t ABOUT any of MY clients, specifically. This article IS about a specific niche that surrounds my client type – one that I wish I could escape from at times – and how to understand YOUR market better, but I understand the concept and why this is my client type. So, while I try to pull my size 11 Wides out of my mouth over here in the land of EWWW THAT STINKS, I’ll try to be somewhat gentle on you dear souls who remain on my mailing list… And, if I hit too hard, I’ll know exactly why my mailing list of more than 5K takes a dive tomorrow.
You see, I sell primarily to other small business owners, such as myself. Those who live in this realm of business work hard, pull in some decent pay, and still know how to make our pennies squeal like piglets on the way out of our pockets. But that isn’t always the best way to approach a purchase. And I’m going to share why in a moment, but first, to fulfill my marketing bullets:
1 – Align your marketing concepts with the reality of your market.
Being a ‘one man show’ doesn’t mean that all your clients will be ‘one man shows’, but it does mean that a good number of the people who are on your list, buying what you sell, and willing to work with you are in your common genre. So, if you don’t want to sell to the owner/operator, I always recommend you hire on a few employees, a virtual secretary, and maybe a tech or two to keep your business in the growing numbers. But, then again, if you’re a one man marketing machine, and you have a good grasp on the market you’re selling to, you may not have to hire anyone. Just promote solid informative solutions to your market niche.
The moral of this story is, “Whoever you are, your market will be also.” It’s a good general rule of thumb, so if you find you’re not marketing well to the people you want to buy your stuff, look in the mirror and see if you’re looking at your primary buying client. If not… change the reflection.
2 – Walk the talk of your marketing niche.
When John called and asked if I was working on his website, I said yes. It was on the computer in front of me, but I’d run into a huge roadblock, and hadn’t made a single change in more than forty-eight hours. He was hoping for a completed website, and it wasn’t done. In fact, it wasn’t even close.
The problem – even with John on the other end of the phone line, all communication between us was at a standstill. He didn’t speak the same language, and nothing I said was going to get through his wall of protection. He thought I wasn’t working on the site, and I still needed information he hadn’t provided. A visit to his business would be required, and I wasn’t prepared to spend that much time on the site based on the fees paid for the site.
Shifting gears, I asked John for something I knew he’d understand, and it would work to fill the information gap I’d run into. I had to know how to communicate with him, because he wasn’t prepared to communicate with me. Yeah, there is a difference.
Sometimes you have to shift out of seller mode, into buyer mode and walk in your client’s shoes for a few miles. If they fit tight, you’ll have blisters… Be prepared.
3 – Be willing to get out of the driver’s seat.
I used to do a lot of traveling with my parents, as a youngster, and I loved it. I often became the map reader, or navigator, on long trips. While one parent slept, I’d read the map for the other parent, so I got to know the roads really well. In fact, you could say that I probably knew the roads better than my parents. Frequently after the first trip, I’d remind them that we turn on the wrong road last time through, and we should go on to the next exit… But there were many times when we took the wrong turn over and over again, because they didn’t want to listen to the navigator.
Those wrong turns were rarely wasted. I usually got a new education, and we always experienced a new adventure when we took the wrong turn. Those adventures taught me that it isn’t always wrong to repeat a mistake, and it’s okay not to be the driving force behind an experience. Some events require that you just get out of the way and let things happen.
Business runs at a similar pace. There may or may not be a RIGHT way to do the job. Either way, the client often has to experience the adventure before they’re willing to follow the RIGHT path. And who knows? The adventure may be worth the trip. Occasionally, let someone else have the wheel.
4 – Be the solution, not the problem.
One of those wrong turns led my family into a darker side of Nashville. Back in the day when riots were still prominent in the landscape, we drifted into a side of town where we weren’t wanted, and innocently went about our business. Inside the farmer’s market, mom was greeted by an elderly gentleman who escorted her through the store in fine style and made sure she got what she needed and safely returned to her vehicle.
Outside the farmer’s market, we drained the cooler onto a grassy knoll and waited for her to return with new groceries and fresh ice, so we could refill it. A young man drove up and parked beside us in his pink convertible, and as he got out of the convertible realized we were in the wrong neighborhood and locked his convertible with the key. Dad noted his behavior and watched him leave the vehicle, then we remained close by to make sure his vehicle was safe. When he returned a few minutes later with a bag of groceries, he unlocked the door with the key, still surprised that we were there, then realized he’d locked, and then unlocked the door with the key, all while the top was down and the windows were open. He set his groceries into the back seat and got behind the wheel to drive off. Dad waved good bye to him as he pulled out and spun away.
For several years after that, we continued to shop at that farmer’s market, and the people inside began to anticipate our arrival. We were the colorblind folks from out of town who just appreciated good food, good service, and an amazing farmer’s market. We often took friends back to that market during our stay there.
5 – RAISE the bar.
When a client calls to invite me to a business presentation, I’m most likely NOT very interested. I’ve been in a wide variety of multi-level marketing industries, still am a card carrying member of a few, and I’ve found that I’m probably NOT interested in another ‘business plan’ put on by some multi-marketed company, whether or not it’s an MLM, or just a massively marketed business strategy that requires a sign on. But that doesn’t mean my answer is always NO. Sometimes, I join the client on the call, listen to the spiel, and even in many cases, go so far as to sign in for more information, because my clients are interested, and I have many clients.
It’s always easier to market and consult with a client when you fully understand what they’re doing.
However, when you get that call frequently from one client, you need to understand that they need a different kind of consultation. They may still be searching for their perfect business, or they may just be searching for something – something that fills their bucket.
Businesses change and adjust through the process of a lifetime, but they aren’t going to shift to a whole new focus.
The objective of raising the bar in this instance is to be willing to learn something new, but not necessarily to jump into a whole new industry. As the business owner, you owe it to yourself to listen when something is offered, but you don’t necessarily have any obligation to jump into the new concept if it doesn’t fit your dynamic.
But what can you give to your clients who seek your advice in this situation?
Here is my fundamental game plan for changing the dynamic of my own marketing niche. In order to achieve, you must BELIEVE, but you must BE the CHANGE you want in your market. I have a list of changes I’m making in my own business right now. I’m adding these concepts to my life, and applying them to my website, and I’m living them out in my social media as well. I have a specific type of client that I believe needs what I offer, and I haven’t been reaching those people, because I’m not part of that niche… YET. More importantly, I’m becoming the definition of the client that I want to serve. This doesn’t take anything away from current clients, because they are growing with me as well, but it does add to my client base, and brings with it an additional offering for my current clients.
What burden are you carrying? What changes are you making?
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About those squealing piglets… If you’re so busy pinching your pennies that you’re not open to receiving more into your pocket, you’ll NEVER receive all that you could if you just open up your pockets and allow the pennies to flow freely.