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How to avoid the most common marketing trap!

7 January 2022
Mark Friend
Structuring a Business, Building a Business

As a small business owner for almost 30 years I have first hand experience of falling into what is probably the biggest trap for growing a business- taking on anything and everything!

When I first set up in business in 1992 I was just 28 years old and had little idea about marketing or selling. My earliest marketing efforts were centered around newspaper adverts, advertorials (a newspaper article with an advert attached) and yellow pages. It was very much a scatter gun approach with the hope of catching something. Anything in fact!  As long as they paid!!!

The marketing was successful to a degree and I actually won a number of great accounts, some of whom are still customers today. But I also caught a lot of sprats and some large fish which I regretted and should have thrown straight back into the sea.

The problem in the early days was that I became very busy working incredibly long hours and for a lot of customers who I knew weren’t a good fit for me. I persisted with these customers purely because they paid something. What I didn’t realise was that they were actually consuming my most valuable resource – my time.

I have always been passionate about building close working relationships with customers who are ideally looking for tax and business advisory services as well as a fantastic compliance service. I also prefer customers who are organized or at least willing to be! The trouble is when you take on anything and everything you make two fundamentals mistakes. Firstly you don’t spend more time on your ideal customers- more time working with your best customers means that you can perfect that service and offer more services to sell to them, leading to your best customers being even more delighted with your service. Secondly you don’t spend the necessary time focused on attracting more of the great customers you want through better targeted marketing and powerful testimonials from your ideal customers.

One of the keys to growing a successful profitable business is therefore to identify who your ideal customer is.

Here is an exercise you can do to move your business on and avoid this classic marketing trap of trying to attract everything and anything:

  1. Review your customer list and put them in order of income spent with you.
  2. Go through each customer and identify which ones you enjoy working with. Whilst not always the case 9 times out of 10 you find the customers you enjoy working for are your profitable customers.
  3. Cross out everyone you don’t enjoy working for.
  4. For the customers you do enjoy working with identify common characteristics of the group- there will usually be common traits. An industry specialism, a type of customer (young/old male/female etc…), specific services or products they are really interested in.
  5. Talk to those customers about your business. What is it they like about you? Also try and find out what they don’t like. You may have to question what it is about your industry which they most dislike to get your answer. Also ask how you can help them to be more profitable. Finding out about what they like and want gives you the ammunition to ensure your service offering is geared to benefitting your existing customers and attracting new ones.
  6. Now starting sacking your bad customers! This is the difficult part and goes against the grain for most of us. There are several techniques you can use which we can discuss with you in person. But only by doing this will you find the time to attract the customers you do want. You need to find time and headspace to concentrate your efforts in giving your best customers an even better service and to find similar customers.
  7. Spend the additional time gained working on your best customers and building marketing collateral targeted at attracting more of those great customers.

A scatter gun approach rarely works. Too often you end up competing on price alone attracting the worst type of customers who don’t really value the service you are offering and will simply move to the cheapest competitor the next time they need to buy. Finding customers who you enjoy working for and are profitable can only come from targeting those customers and ensuring that your offering and your marketing focuses on them.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you grow your business then please contact us.

The content in this blog is correct as at 7 January 2021 See terms and conditions.

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