When I talk to new businesses coming into the Our Success Group community, I try to understand right up front who their ideal customer is so we can start figuring out ways to reach those people. And often, the answer to the question, “who is your ideal customer?” is “anyone with money in their wallet.”
I certainly understand this line of thinking, believing that because you are new and starting off, you must get any business you can get your hands on. But what I know is true is the opposite of that strategy is what is required. When you are starting or trying to grow, you have limited resources to draw from, so you have to maximize the time, money, and effort being put into trying to attract customers.
If you are a company like Coca-Cola, Google, T-Mobile, and other global brands, you can extend your marketing message to everyone. A Super Bowl commercial costs $6.5 million per 30-second time slot. Yes, that is $6.5 million, and that is only the cost of the slot, not the production costs and additional marketing efforts. And I will say that if you are reading this article, there is a good chance you do not have an extra $12 to $13 million available.
So what do the rest of us small businesses do? You need to niche down to find your ideal customer where you can be the very best in your space. Among your community of people, you will have the same brand recognition that Coca-Cola and Google have worldwide at a fraction of the marketing budget.
When you try to be everything to everyone, you end up being nothing to no one. It is unreasonable to think you will attract people with the shotgun approach. The only way to get above the noise is to find a specific market with whom you can speak passionately. Identify a problem that they have that matches up to a solution you can and want to provide. That is the crux of finding your niche. Then at that point, you can grow and work to become the best in your niche, and you will find that businesses outside your niche will seek you out because they are looking for the best.
Let me share a story that a friend of mine shared on my podcast several years ago that will illustrate how being the very best in your space will have other people outside of your niche seek you out. My friend, Brett Bowden of Printed Threads in Fort Worth, Texas, was telling us how he came to do the printing for the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team. If you have ever met or seen Bowden, you will immediately know he is a band guy. If there were a picture in the dictionary next to the words band guy, it would be him. He has long hair, is slender and cool, and just looks like he should always be holding an instrument.
When he started his company, he didn’t go out and try to go after anyone he could think of. He focused his efforts and his passion on playing in a band and solving the problems that all small bands have. How do small new bands get into the merch game without having to buy more shirts than their family and groupies could ever use? So he figured out how to help them with short-run dark shirts, taking care of the logistics and, as he puts it, “having rad designs.”
And as he slowly developed his business around his ideal customers and their needs, the word started to spread. Before he knew it, he was doing work for larger and larger bands. And he became known as the band merch guy in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Soon after, the Dallas Mavericks came calling as they wanted to make some shirts with more of a band/rock’n’roll feel. They heard he was the guy, and he ended up printing the project for the professional basketball team.
Here is the real secret sauce: in doing that project, they also held true to their commitment to great customer service, and after doing such a great job, the Dallas Mavericks kept returning. Still, to this day, if you go to their “About Us” page, you will see a bunch of people in black shirts, some long hair, and just creative types that I’m sure every band wants to work with.
The next time someone asks you who your ideal customer is, what will you tell them? If it is not a specific niche audience you can focus on and become the best in a relatively short time, then you have some work to do. Let me know how I can help as we regularly guide our members to their ideal customers, and I’d love to work with you as well.