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Who Is Not Your Customer?

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Who Is Not Your Customer?

I was reading the latest edition of the Automobile Association magazine recently, and I noticed a full-page ad for a mobile phone.

The heading on the advertisement read as:

At last! A simple, easy to use, no-nonsense mobile phone. Big buttons. Clear display. Loud ringtone.

The sales copy on the page showed a picture of the phone and talked about how easy it is to use. The positive testimonials about the phone on the page showed me that the target market is people over age 50 who just want a simple, easy to use, mobile phone that does not have a lot of complicated features.

When I read this ad, I thought immediately about my father-in-law, who is in his 70’s, and has Parkinson’s disease, so his right-hand shakes a lot. I gave him my old iPhone a year ago and set it up for him to use. Yet when he tried to use the iPhone, he found it too complicated and difficult. So, it sits in his drawer, and he never uses it.

My father-in-law has never gone online and has no desire to do so. Anything that is a bit technical to use is both physically and mentally challenging. However, I thought this phone could be exactly what he needs as it is simple; it does not have complicated features and everything about it is easy to use. I showed it to him, we bought it, and he has found it very useful.

Now here’s the marketing lesson I got from this:

If you want to make good sales, you need to decide who is not your customer as well as deciding who is your customer.

In the case of this phone, their customer is not someone who wants a mobile phone with internet access, lots of cutting edge technology, amazing apps and so on. Instead, their phone is for someone who just wants a mobile phone that is incredibly simple, convenient and easy to use.

When I think back over my last 40 years in sales and marketing, I realise that many of the businesses I have come across who have done amazingly well have been very clear about who is not their customer.

Here are two examples to get you thinking:

Example 1: A super successful dentist in Australia.

This dentist decided a few years ago that he only wanted to do business with people who had been referred by his existing clients. This meant that everyone else was not his customer.

Once he decided that people who had not been referred were not his customer, he did something very interesting. He took down all the signage for his dental practice; he made his dental phone number confidential and stopped all advertising of his services to the general public.

He focussed all his marketing efforts on his existing clients and invited them to refer their friends and family members if they thought they would value the type of dental services that he offered. This worked very well for him.

Example 2: A business coach in the United States.

I received an interesting email from a business coach in the United States a few years ago. He told me that when he was a business coach to a wide range of businesses he struggled to make a living. So, he changed his focus and decided to work as a business coach only for web developers. In other words, any business who was not a web developer was not his customer.

Within a year of deciding who his customer was not, this business coach had increased his revenues by 500% and was doing very nicely.

Deciding who is not your customer could be a useful marketing exercise for your own business as well.

Think about the products or services that you offer. Who is not your ideal client for these products and services?

“What you don’t do determines what you can do.”- Tim Ferriss.

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  • Travis Longmore
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    I love this approach. It’s similar to some clients I had a few years ago when I was freelancing. We spent ages developing their marketing strategy around who they thought their customers were but when we actually dug into their sales data (and not their social or even website traffic data). What we actually found was that despite their products being for a specific audience, the people buying them were almost the exact opposite.

    When we dug a little further we found that people were buying their products almost entirely for gifting. We changed the entire marketing approach and they saw a huge shift in sales. It takes some time to dig deep enough to get a good understanding but well worth it in the end.

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