Early on when I joined Brainstorm Digital, I made a massive marketing error.
We were looking to target a new niche, and I pushed the case for companies selling into the Pharmaceutical industry.
My thinking was that here was a sector that really needed our services. They were massively behind the curve in online marketing, but they were increasingly aware that they needed to catch up. There seemed to be a large gap in the market, waiting to be filled.
Well, we aimed a marketing campaign at the Pharma suppliers, and brought several good companies on board.
The problem was that they were a nightmare to deal with. The wider Pharma industry is quite old-fashioned in its marketing, because it has to operate within firm regulatory restrictions. Even though ‘our’ companies had no restrictions, the conservatism seemed infectious.
They never wanted to do anything cutting-edge (or effective…..). They were actually deeply sceptical about online marketing, and didn’t really accept its basic principles.
They weren’t all that easy to help…!
It was an enormously frustrating experience, and in the end, we gradually eased ourselves out of that market.
The mistake I made back then is one I still see companies repeating, all the time.
When they decide who to target in their marketing, the question they ask is: “Who has an urgent need for our product or service?”
This attracts a mixed bag of clients, some of whom are brilliant – and some of whom are less than ideal. Perhaps their budget is too low, so you can’t spend enough time to get them the results they need. Maybe they don’t have the team you need to support your work. Maybe their management structure is such that every decision takes forever – and your work stalls.
Whatever the problem, gradually your business fills up with customers who are difficult to work with and to achieve the very best results for. Every client feels like a struggle. You start to resent them. You wonder whether you’d be better off without them…..
Instead of growing steadily, your business lurches along.
So how do you avoid this scenario?
The key is to follow up that crucial question – “Who needs our product or service?” – with two others:
“Who do we want to work with?”
“Who can we actually help?”
Your sweet spot is those customers who answer all three criteria.
You see, it’s not enough to bring in new clients. That’s “just” a marketing success (…nothing to sniff at, to be sure).
To see your business thrive, you need to bring in good clients – good for you, that is. They need to be easy to deal with, buy into what you do and be profitable. You should be able to do your very best work for them. They should propel your business forward, not hold it back.
This isn’t selfish, and you’re not letting anyone down by focusing on “easy wins”.
The fact is that if you can only achieve mediocre results for your clients because they’re the wrong fit for you, you’re wasting both your time – and theirs.
Keep your marketing utterly focused on clients you know you can excel with. Ruthlessly turn away those you can’t help.
Everyone will be happier.