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  • Why you don't like to focus your marketing (and why you should) Jul 5, 2021

    One of the first questions I ask my clients is who their ideal customer is and more often than not they’ll cheerily say ‘everybody’.

    The problem is that trying to market to everybody is a really bad idea for any business and particularly for smaller companies and new starts.

    Actually, although it seems counter-intuitive, you are better off focusing your marketing tightly on a very small subset of the population and making sure you get that right rather than trying to appeal to everyone.

    Marketing out to the world and his wife means that your effort is less effective, even though it feels better.

    Why we try to market to everybody

    When you start up in business your prime focus is getting sales.

    You want to make money and the way to do that is to sell lots of stuff, whether that’s hours, products or services.

    So it feels like a really bad idea to cut off most of the marketplace and just concentrate on one sector.

    Intuitively it feels like you need to be casting your net as wide as you can to catch as many fish as possible. You need sales so attracting as many customers as you can makes sense.

    If you do choose to focus then you spend all of your time second-guessing and developing a whole host of ‘what ifs’ that convince you that you would have sold much more if you only had a more generic marketing strategy.

    Put simply, it is really difficult emotionally to say that you are going to focus on one part of a market.

    So we don’t bother.


    Why focusing makes complete sense
    The problem is that by trying to appeal to everyone you end up appealing to no one.

    Think about it logically; is a marketing message that you craft to appeal to 16-year-old girls going to work with a 58-year-old company director?

    Of course not.

    So what we do is we water down the message so that no one can take offence and in doing so we lose the thing that makes our offer attractive.

    What started out as a finely tuned marketing campaign that would resonate with a very specific market and would drive sales, ends up being a wishy-washy offer that gets lost in a sea of other wishy-washy offers.

    By trying to appeal to everyone, we inadvertently appeal to no one.

    Focusing proves you are an expert
    Focusing works really well for services businesses.

    For example, imagine you are a lawyer and you wanted to get some graphics done for your office.

    You go online and you find 500 graphic designers who all look the same and who all say “we help everyone”.

    Then you find one graphic designer who says “I’m an expert in graphic design for lawyers”.

    Who do you choose?

    Most people would choose the expert.

    It works with physical products too. The best work boots for builders, the perfect phone for hairdressers, the ideal computer for opticians.

    Providing something that is specially designed for a target market is much more attractive than offering people something vanilla that is only designed not to upset people.

    Focusing increases your marketing ROI
    The old adage “50% of my marketing budget is wasted, I just don’t know which 50%” was never truer than in a time when there are more ways to talk to people than ever before.

    Focusing gives you the chance to develop a marketing strategy that is delivered in exactly the right place for your target market.

    Consider these two cases;

    1. Imagine you sell a photocopier. Where are you going to advertise it?
    1. Imagine you sell the perfect photocopier for accountants - where are you going to advertise that?

    In the second case, you know exactly who your market is, accountants. So all you need to find out is where accountants hang out.

    In the first case, it’s not as clear. You can advertise your photocopiers anywhere but that doesn’t mean that it is the right place.

    Focusing on a specific target market and an ideal customer actually pushes you towards the best channels to speak with them and increases the efficiency of your marketing spend.

    You’re speaking with the right people, with the right message in the right place.

    How to work out who to focus on
    If you already have a business that is selling to customers then take a look at your accounts.

    Who typically buys from you?

    Who is typically the most profitable customer?

    Who buys again and again or refers your product to a friend?

    These are your ideal people.

    Choose an ideal customer that you like working with, that appreciates your product and who has money to spend.

    Then sit down and write a pen picture of them.

    What are their likes, dislikes, what car do they drive, where do they live, where do they hang out?

    More importantly what problems do they have that you can solve?

    You can be as detailed as you like - the more information you have on this fictitious customer the better because it all leads you to understand them and their needs.

    Once you know what they need, where they hang out and how you can help then it is a relatively simple matter to craft a marketing campaign that will really speak to them and will drive sales in a way that a vanilla campaign never could.

    Let’s look at a specific example.

    Imagine you are a plumber and you have worked out that your most profitable clients are builders. You understand the sector and you like working with them.

    You sit down and draw a pen picture (AKA ‘avatar’) of your ideal customer and you realise that the one problem they all suffer from is knowing what to quote the end customer because it takes too long and requires a site visit.

    So you offer to give quotes over facetime. Your builder doesn’t need to wait to get you in to look at the job, he just video links you to the site and shows you what needs doing. You are then able to give them an instant price.

    You now have a new service that you can promote (video quotes), you know who to promote it to (builders) and you know what problem you are solving, so producing content is simple.

    You now have a highly focused service that solves exactly the problem that your ideal (and most profitable) customer suffers from.

    Compare that to simply telling all the people you know down the pub that you are a plumber and you can see that it has to be more effective!

    Focusing doesn’t mean ignoring

    This is a really important point.

    I’m a copywriter and I focus on working with Financial Services companies and accountancy firms to sharpen up their marketing.

    But that doesn’t mean to say that just because I specialise in financial copywriting that I don’t work with other types of companies.

    I’ve got clients that range from Translators to Stone Masons!

    By focusing your marketing you aren’t ignoring other people who may want what you have to sell and actually I find that people fully understand that I specialise in finance but that I can write other stuff too!

    So don’t think that by focusing your marketing you are losing a whole bunch of customers. Just think of it as reaching the right customer more effectively.

    Your challenge

    Here’s a challenge for you - sit down now and draw that pen picture of your customer.

    Ask yourself what problem you are solving for them.

    Then ask yourself if your current marketing campaign is focused enough!