Love Your Buyers Enough to Change for Them

I was chatting with a CPA about the extraordinary revenue increases possible from focus on current clients. He said: “You mean, you’re saying I should work harder to sell more services to my current customers rather than trying to get new customers for the same limited list of services?” “Yes, that’s what I mean,” I replied.

I’ve been thinking a lot about why this is a remarkable idea. It seems so obvious to me that buyers who’ve been happy with their purchases from you would be eager to buy more if you would just offer new options they’d love.

Focus? It’s a Habit You Can Develop

Week after week, business owners and executives tell me they know they need to focus. They say “I know if I was more focused I could run my business better and get better results.”

When I ask what they mean by “focusing” they usually say they should:
Measure their numbers; know their competition; and manage time better.

One Marketing Message Doesn’t Fit All Buyers

Blanket or one-size-fits-all marketing seems just perfect for a busy, cost-conscious company. One big-tent message that can be distributed through every channel possible. You’ll reach all potential buyers, spread creative expenses over many versions and the consistency will strengthen your brand identity.

This type of thinking is a fool’s errand. Why? Because all buyers are not the same, and one message does not resonate with disparate groups. I say this no matter how many social media experts tell you otherwise!

Segment Your Buyers, Make Them All Happy

The evidence from my clients across the spectrum of industries and markets is that when you imagine you can sell to everyone, you end up selling to no one.

The more your offerings are specific and customized to buyers’ needs and priorities, the higher the likelihood those buyers will make a purchase. Thus I urge every company to focus deeply on current buyers. Current buyers will supply the vast majority of revenue growth.

Positioning: Where You Rank in Your Buyers’ Minds

What if your company has invented a great music player, with beautiful design and huge capacity in a tiny product? You could position it as a “me-too, only better” than a compact disc player. Or you could position it as something entirely new that will rise or fall on its own merits.

Apple did that with the iPod. It was not like anything anyone had ever before produced. It may be hard to believe from today’s vantage point, but the first year of sales was slow and disappointing. However, Apple maintained its Number One positioning strategy for the iPod and it generated huge revenue increases and well as a revolution in digital products.

Positioning Strategy before Marketing Strategy

Which company’s smartphone is the default? Which company defines online shopping? Which company is known as Whole Paycheck?

Apple, Amazon, Whole Foods.

Which companies are second or third in these categories? There’s no one clear answer.

Buyers are Talking. Are You Listening?

“We have trouble being the kind of caring company we want to be while also ensuring accountability among our nearly 800 associates. It seems like when we do one, the other suffers.” The CEO and I were discussing the progress of a project I’d been working on when he said this to me.

Do you hear the opportunity in these comments? He was telling me about a significant barrier to fulfilling the company’s vision and values. If he allows these barriers to stand, the company’s revenue growth is constricted. I know that a company’s values and their need for performance accountability can reinforce each other when addressed. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Why Stay? Current Buyers Want to Know

When I talk about growing revenue from current buyers, CEOs and Owners tell me all the time: “yes, it’s much cheaper to market to current buyers.”

In spite of this belief, I find at least one, and sometimes all, of these three counterproductive marketing practices in their companies. They hinder the company’s ability to generate new revenue from current buyers.

There is No Profitable Status Quo in Business

I said to a CEO “there is no profitable status quo in business.” He asked me to imagine standing on a street corner where we live. The traffic and the people are passing by. He said “Standing there is like maintaining the status quo in my business. I am not losing ground.”

I said “you may think that not moving is the same as not losing ground. Not so. Many of the people literally passing you by are on their way to companies where they will pass you by in revenue and profit growth; in improvements and innovation; in client retention. Standing still will pretty quickly mean you are losing ground.”