Marketing Sales Strategy

Who is your ideal customer?


Simple, I know. But the simple stuff is often exactly what gets forgotten or overlooked. For example, the sign in the picture above. Do you think this place knows what gets the attention of their clientele? Sure they do. Would it work with any business of that type? Absolutely not.

Recently I was talking with a photographer about the Texas art market. He mentioned that his friends in the art show circuit don’t feel like it’s even worth going there because all Texans care about is bar-b-que, pickup trucks, and high school football.

If you’ve ever been to the cities in Texas and have been the least bit observant, it’s clear that there is (duh) a ton of money there, and not-so-duh, a lot of folks there who appreciate the arts. Of course, you might not sell the same thing in Texas that sells in Chicago or Maine – but that doesn’t mean there’s no art market there. And despite that, there are substantial high end art collectors and enthusiasts in Texas. They had to come from somewhere, and I don’t mean “out of state”. At least not all of em.

Knowing who your client is, from town to town, county to county, much less block by block – makes a huge difference in how you market / sell to them, much less if you do at all.

For example: if you drive by a neighborhood of apartments, would you expect substantial success in the carpet cleaning business in that area? Would you exclude that area from an expensive mailing to market carpet cleaning services? I sure would, but many would just send to the whole town. It’s not that they don’t appreciate clean floors, but demographically speaking, they are far more likely to go get a Rug Doctor than call you, take time off from work to meet you and have you clean their carpet for several hundred $. So why mail to them?

Know who your ideal customer really is. Sit down and really think about the type of person they are. Don’t look at any of their characteristics as good or bad. The key is knowing where they are.

Owner / Renter? Married / Single / Divorced? Male / Female? Infants / Toddlers / Adolescents / Teens / Empty nesters / no kids? White collar/blue collar? Prius or F250? Dockers or Kenneth Cole? Men’s Wearhouse or Savile Row? Coach or K-Mart? Talbots, Ann Taylor or Sears?

Once you figure out exactly who they are, focus on them above all others.

Make sure your marketing (much less your products and services) speak directly to that group. You want them to say to themselves “that’s definitely talking about me” when they see your products and services advertised.

Competition Corporate America Sales

Selling software secrets

Today’s Sunday guest post is by Debbie Levitt, who writes about her experience when selecting and attempting to compare add on products for

There are still a lot of software companies that operate the way that the losing vendor operates.

I mean, you can’t blame them. It’s terribly efficient…at sending customers to your competitors.

Entrepreneurs Marketing Sales Trade Shows

Let someone else make the sale? Sure.

Up a treeSome things drive me up a tree. Demos done poorly are one of em. Death by Powerpoint just isn’t necessary, nor is death by live demo – but it’s far too easy to find.

A couple of weeks ago, Joel closed out his 2007 Fogbugz World Tour and described some findings of his demos. Anyone who sells their stuff at trade shows (software or not) should go read it. It gave me flashbacks:)

One thing that gave me a bit of a chuckle were his comments about asking the demo crowd “How many of you are users?” I’m not sure that he was surprised that there was a nice mix of clients and prospects in the room for his demo, but he did a nice job of making it unclear.

We stumbled upon a similar technique back in the late 1990s at our trade shows.

We used to do a full day free training session either before, during or after the show (usually after). Every prospect was invited, knowing full well that:

– each of them would see something during a full day (well, 9am to 3pm-ish anyhow) that they would never have seen or grasped in the hectic and easily distracting trade show floor environment – and it made the sale.

– someone else would ask the question they were afraid to or not knowledgeable enough to ask, a question that would never have been asked at the booth, much less within their earshot.

– at least 30-40% of the room would be existing users, some way back since the DOS version (which was before my time). They seemed determined to convince all the prospects in the room that it was time to buy. The prospect were all told that they’d meet plenty of existing users at the training and could ask them whatever they wanted. Cialdini was all over the room. No matter how annoyed someone was about a feature that wasn’t done yet or a bug that wasn’t quite fixed, they would still be an amazing salesperson in that room because (as Cialdini says) no one ever makes a bad purchase.

Now, to be sure, almost everyone in that room was serious about their use of the product and that made them better salespeople, and it also made the product more profitable to them, so of course it was natural that the trainings attracted those kinds of people. Of course, we knew that after observing the first few, so we made a point of making sure we let prospects know that “the smartest, most productive users” would be in the room. And they were.

Some would bring several staff members, and they’d start chattering about how they do something vs how someone else does. Next thing you know, you’ve got a mini-convention in the room. Any prospect who was there…no way they were leaving the room without buying after seeing that.

Result: Always an effective day, both for us, and for all the clients in the room. Without the interruptions of cell phones, regular phones, clients coming in for shoots, etc – they could relax, free their mind (many prepared in advance) and really learn. It was a win-win, big time.

Things we learned, some of which relate back to Joel’s post:

– Whoever is talking should not be driving the mouse. Gives the person who is driving all the time in the world to deal with whatever the speaker just tripped over, without making the speaker lose their authority in the room – much less their cool.

– No one wants to watch a speaker bent over a laptop, struggling to figure out what the heck is going on. That’s the driver’s job. Driving and speaking, unless you’re Steve Jobs, is something that will take practice. In the case above, it was speaking and taking questions (and you want to add driving?). Jobs doesn’t even do that.

– Corollary to the above two, whoever is driving needs to know the software even better than the person who is talking, if that’s possible. If you’re driving the laptop and can’t find something, what impression does that make? “Geez, not even THESE GUYS know their own software.” Having a tech person drive is very educational for that person, because they can focus on driving and absorbing all the little comments and observations they hear. Yellow pads and lots of pens are recommended for the driver. They’ll have plenty of room to write.

When you read Joel’s comments about the room, how to dress, etc , keep in mind that his audience is entirely…..geeks. IE: Information technology people. Computer software staff. All the stuff Joel talks about to impress those folks might be completely off-base if your audience is auto mechanics, video store owners, photographers, or golf instructors.

But you know that, right? (by now, you should)

The environment, your dress etc for a day like this depends on your relationship with them and the business you’re in.

The applicability of this technique is not even remotely limited to software. Just make sure the ticket / order size is worth it.

Competition Customer service Entrepreneurs Management Marketing Sales Strategy

Figuring out what your customers REALLY want.

Last week, on Independent Street (a Wall Street Journal column about independent businesses), there was a story about businesses that don’t accept reservations. The story questioned whether it was good business to not accept reservations, or if not doing so was an inconvenient insult.

My view is that every business – not just restaurants – that CAN take reservations, SHOULD take reservations (aka appointments). It’s about your clients’ time, much less yours. No one seems to have enough these days.

Part of this might be a pet peeve:)  It’s annoying to walk into a restaurant or other business (like a barber shop) and be unable to get in because they are busy (time after time after time…), AND despite the busy nature of the business, they don’t accept reservations.

Accepting reservations and *requiring* them are two very different beasts. I prefer accepting, until requiring becomes mandatory. Your marketing is in charge of making it mandatory.

Thinking from the business side of the house, life can sometimes be feast or famine. When I was in the studio software business, two of the goals that most studios had were to (1) fill the appointment calendar, and (2) reduce no shows.

Why? Because they can look at their historical financial performance and tell, within reason, how much money they are going to make NEXT MONTH. If they have 300 appointments next month and they know the average value of those appointments is $271.32, then they have a strong idea how much is on their plate revenue-wise, as well as how their staffing needs to be setup. And they know this a month in advance. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Likewise, if they have 300 appointments next month and their calendar allows for a total of 420 (or 302) appointments, then they know how hard they need to be marketing next month’s time (much less the month after that).

What photographers figured out in a hurry is that once those slots are gone, they’re worthless – so it’s critical to get them booked and get them to show up.

Customers detest showing up and coming back time and time again because you’re too busy.

They don’t have time to stop in to your barber stop, butcher shop, steak house, auto repair shop. flower shop, clothing store (etc) 4-5 times to get what they need. If you don’t have time for them, they will find it elsewhere. How many restaurants are good enough (and have sufficient waiting areas) for a 10 minute wait? 30? 45? 60? How many of their clients have that kind of patience?

And THERE is another big reason for making reservations / appointments. If you drive people somewhere else, they aren’t likely coming back. If they know that reservations are how you get things done with your business, then they will make one. If you accommodate walk-ins on slow days (which your marketing should focus on), that’s fine.

For this reason, I even make appointments for clients at trade shows. I want them to know that I am dedicating time to them, and that I will not divert my attention from them to someone who is looking for another pen or stress ball to add to their collection. For the same reason, I *strongly* encourage phone appointments. They eliminate phone tag. They dedicate time to that person so both can be prepared, as opposed to getting a call in the john (yes, I have seen guys do business on the phone at the urinal – idiots), or in the line at Wal-Mart.  But I digress:)

Appointments allow your customers to get your products and services in a low-stress, less-hectic environment at an agreed upon time, with few (if any) delays or interruptions. Better for you, better for them. Makes their experience with your business more pleasant and less annoying/frustrating. Hugely less stressful for you.

They work for restaurants, auto repair, barber shops, car salespeople, Realtors, clothing salespeople, and they will work for most of you if you look at your situation hard enough. Does regular retail need them? Depends – particularly on the time it takes to complete a transaction. If you have a high end audio shop, do you want undivided attention from your expert salesperson, or do you want them distracted by someone who just wants a set of headphones?

What your customers really want? They want what they want, right when they want it. Appointments and reservations help you give it to them. If you look hard, you can even find additional revenue opportunities in them.

Marketing Sales Scouting

One kid’s project turns into smart marketing nationwide

Looking for a star salesperson? There’s someone here in the Flathead who over the last 3-4 years has outperformed his peers across the state.

He sells popcorn.

The downside for you is that he’s 12 years old, so you’ll have to hire a driver for him (or wait a few years).

Competition Marketing Sales

What to do when you’re backed into a corner.

Everyone knows that an animal is far more dangerous when backed into a corner. When pressed, it will defend itself far more vigorously and fight to the death.

You’re no different than that animal.

If you had $57 in your checking account and no job, what would you do today to make sure that tomorrow was a better day?

  • Would you sell a little harder? A little better?
  • Would you work a little harder, or a little longer?
  • What would you do that you haven’t done in months – because you know it would produce better results?
  • Would you mail that hand-written thank you card to the new client, or the client who keeps on buying from you?
  • Would you send something to that person who referred you to a new client or prospect?
  • Would you put yourself in the prospect’s shoes and think just a little harder about how to explain to them why they need your product?

Now….Why aren’t you doing those things today?

In your mind, back yourself into a corner and expect the best you’ve got – the stuff you’d do if you only had $57 in your pocket, rather than the same ol’, same ol’ that people expect from you.

Media Sales Strategy

Mr. Rogers teaches a $20MM sales lesson

Perry Marshall sent this to me a few days ago. Perry quotes Bryan Todd, his co-author on The Definitive Guide to Google Adwords. Todd found the video and included this text in his email to Perry:

Background: 1969, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was in danger of getting their funding cut in half by Nixon because of war costs. So the CPB calls in Mr. Rogers to testify before the Senate.

Amazingly, as he starts talking you feel the same way I do: What alien from the NeverNeverLand Nursery just landed here?

As you listen you realize, this guy is for real. Disarmingly real. He delivers an emotional 6-minute pitch. Watch the effect he has on John O. Pastore, notoriously gruff and impatient.

There are several sales lessons in this video.

Watch how many times the chair of this committee asks a question, and perhaps most importantly, how many times Rogers gets him to say “Yes” BEFORE Rogers closes the $20MM sale – without even asking for it.

In less than 7 minutes.

Be glad Mr. Rogers didn’t decide to sell timeshares, junk bonds, or black market nukes.

Marketing Media Politics Sales

Learning from JFK would help resolve Romney’s marketing problem


In the event you hadn’t heard ( just crawling out of a cave, are ya? ), 2008 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a member of the Mormon church.

Reportedly, Mitt “bristles” at it being front and center as an issue for his candidacy. Google romney bristles mormon and see.

First, he needs to get over it: He’s a Presidential candidate.

Second, and more importantly, I think he and his team are either being lazy, or they failed Sales and Marketing 101.

Here’s why: What has he done to educate the public about the Mormon faith?

What little Joe-the-average-voter thinks they know about the Mormon faith is probably limited to what they saw on episodes of HBO’s Big Love. Clearly, that’s not the image Romney wants in the voters’ minds.

What isn’t obvious about this? “I don’t know anything about his church, it seems weird, I don’t like that HBO show, so I just wont vote for him.” is a sales objection, so treat it like one.

John F Kennedy had to do it (ok, it was the 60’s, and a good speech, but also a great marketing job – check the last paragraph where he “practices” taking the oath, that’s just brilliant). More recently, Lieberman did as well. There have been others and there will be more.

For voters, knowing more about the “mysteries” that make up the foundation of a candidate’s decision-making process are just as important as knowing how a product will work when you’re a prospect. Not knowing what those things are is a major obstacle to getting a vote, or a sale.

Going back to yesterday’s “word ownership” post, a lot of people don’t understand the LDS religion, don’t know anything about it and as a result: It’s different. They have nothing to associate it with except for Big Love, Donny and Marie or maybe Pat Boone.

The masses like “comfortable things and comfortable people” and are slow to change and adjust to different things. You and I may do so easily, but you and I aren’t the voting masses. Trust me on that one:)

Some folks are serious enough about their religious beliefs that they take issue with some aspects of the Mormon faith (assuming they research it) and that is enough to keep them from voting for Mitt.

Those of us in Scouting face a similar issue when working with troops based in LDS churches. They use the Scouting program as a substantial part of the church’s youth program. They use it somewhat differently than “regular” Scout troops do because of how the church is organized. Either you understand how this works, or you don’t (if you don’t ask, I can assure you – you don’t). If you don’t know the details, you probably don’t care for it, or like it.

The reasons for some parts of how it is organized don’t necessarily make sense to me, but the fact that their Scouting program is adjusted to fit into their church program makes perfect sense for them.

Whether we’re talking about JFK, Mitt, Scouts, or that new water-based marine primer you sell, these are all marketing problems. If people around you have to interact with you, work with you, depend on you, buy from you or vote for you – they’d better understand who you are, what you do, how your product or service is better, and why.

When sales objections exist, bring them up and address them, rather than waiting for the prospect to do so. Read the JFK speech again, you’ll see him do just that.

Mitt needs to educate the voters (his prospects) and eliminate sales objections, just like JFK did.

Read or listen to the JFK speech and look at all the ways his speech worked to eliminate “the concern about being a Catholic President” from his candidacy.

You need to do the same for your prospects.

Marketing Sales

Tiers of joy

Remember the Big Gulp?

When I was in college, it was the ultimate thirst quencher at the local 7/11 convenience store.

Back then, 32 ounces seemed like a honkin’ big drink.

Nowadays though, the Big Gulp is a wimpy little cup. There’s the Super Big Gulp and the Double Gulp, for example. Some stores have a mongo-sized plastic cup (a wanna-be cooler actually) that holds 90+ ounces. These days, they probably have 256 ounce Quasimodo Gulp, and an even bigger cup with little wheels on it because it’s too big to carry.

But I digress:)

Tiers are the secret weapon that smart businesses use to add profit to the bottom line and take care of that special customer who wants a little more. The secret lies in what the big ticket tiers do psychologically.

Marketing Sales

Sales – It’s how you wrap it.

melitakayaks.jpgLast Monday evening, I was walking up the trail on Melita Island to the Order of the Arrow ceremony area (what we call “the OA bowl”) for our camp’s opening campfire.

An opening campfire gives the staff a chance to show their stuff, do some skits, songs and generally be funny for the boys in the crowd. It’s a great way to show off the staff to the boys – and give the campers some ideas for their camp’s closing campfire, where each troop gets to do a skit, song, or similar.

I was near the end of the line of 250 or so people hiking single file up the trail to the bowl when a young (15-16 years old) camp staff member caught up and joined me. A few minutes later, he heard the boys in front of us talking as we hiked up the trail.

OA members know that it is our tradition to be silent on the trail to the OA bowl – but 12 year old boys excited about their first campfire on their first visit to Scout camp have no idea about these kinds of things, so they are quite naturally chatty, laughing and excited.

When we approached the first group of chatty 11-12 year olds, the staff member raised his voice and belted out “No talking on the trail!”

Naturally, the boys didn’t have a clue why he said this to them, but they complied – for about 50 yards. He started to take off and get on them again when I put my hand on his shoulder and suggested a different approach: A sales job, packaged in mystery.

We stopped for a moment as the boys walked along in front of us, talking again as you’d expect. I suggested that he walk up, bend down to their level so they are face to face, and ask something like this: “Hey, did you guys know that it’s a long time camp tradition to walk in silence on the trail to the Order of the Arrow bowl?”

With a skeptical look that only a 15 year old can serve up, he asked if I thought it would work. I said “Give it a try, it can’t hurt”, so off he ran to catch the guys in front of us.

A few minutes later, he came up to me and told me that he couldn’t believe it, but it worked. The boys were quiet the rest of the way down the trail to the OA bowl.

Sales and packaging isn’t just for toothpaste. No matter what you’re “selling”, you have to get into the head of your prospect and as Robert Collier said “Join the conversation already going on in their minds” in order to accomplish your goal – whether you’re selling a car or trying to quiet a group of 12 year olds on a campout.

By the way, our guys did the raisin bran skit at the closing campfire Friday night.