Know Who Your Customers Are…Not
For some reason, it always seems easier, working for Big Corp, to understand who your customers are. Product management, or product marketing depending on your organization, might describe your target customers like this: Product X’s typical customer makes $250M/yr in gross revenue, has 1,200 employees, and at least 5 different facilities, in one of these ‘three’ industries.
Seems simple. And, by default, since you know who your customers are it stands to reason that you know who your customers are not. We’ll come back to this.
As a small business or entrepreneur things do not seem quite so clear. You don’t have access to the latest market segmentation data; today’s primary focus is paying today’s bills so tomorrow the lights turn on; and, anything walking in the door (and can fog a mirror) is a target.
You may be tempted to simplify, to dilute your focus in order to increase acceptance by a potentially larger number of consumers (B2B, B2C, doesn’t matter). The problem is while everyone may be able to digest milk-toast it doesn’t stand out. When your customers have a problem, you want them to think of your product as the solution. The sharper the image, the more striking it is, the more readily they’ll remember you. And, in today’s world of search engines, it’s a lot easier to be found if you stand for something, than if you’re milk-toast.
Becoming milk-toast can be far easier than you may think. Here’s just one way… Salespeople return from meeting with customers carrying a list of new features you need in order to close a sale. The temptation is to roll out the new features to secure new revenue. If you implement new features for customers outside your focus, you dilute your product by default, and get a tad soggier each time.
…there is no everyone in your target market.
A friend of my, Randy Block, reminded me of this issue not too long ago. He said, ‘…there is no everyone in your target market.’
Even if you are Big Corp you have very finite resources available. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Make adjustments and accept feedback while keeping an eye on who is asking. But stay focused on red pumpkins. As you grow, can choose to chase purple, and then green, and then yellow pumpkins. But you’ll never be able to successfully serve all the orange pumpkins out there.
Knowing who your customers are not, is as important as knowing who they are.
In the next segment, we’ll talk about the importance of a plan.