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Who Are Your Imperfect Customers?

I'd like to make two points in this short article (with...bagels. Yes.)

  1. It's just as important to figure out who your company's products and services are not suited for as it is to know who they are best suited for.

  2. It's important to understand the role that marketing plays in ensuring your products and services get in front of the right people.

Let me restate that: having a solid understanding of who your perfect customers are is just as important as figuring out who your imperfect customers are. For the purpose of this article and ones like it, "perfect customer" refers to those who would benefit the most from what your company has to offer; conversely, "imperfect customer" refers to those who would not find much if any value in your company's offerings and would be better suited to look elsewhere.

You might say, but surely I can just market my product or service anywhere and the right people will find it? You know that saying, "If you build it, they will come"? That's one of the common misconceptions about starting a business and is actually one of the five most common reasons that businesses fail. There is a fine line between being available to those perfect customers and setting yourself up to meet imperfect ones. Marketing your product or service to the wrong types of people can waste time, money, and energy, and cause a number of issues that can be avoided simply by knowing who will benefit the most from your company and who won't.

The bagel example

Let's say that you sell a tangible product – I'm feeling hungry, so let's use bagels to illustrate my point (#sorrynotsorry). Your product:

  • Is made from flour

  • Is baked

  • Is round

  • Has a whole in the middle

You decide to get your product into a local shop because that shop also sells products that:

  • Are made from flour

  • Are baked

  • Are round

  • Have holes in the middle

Unfortunately, the customers that visit the shop that you have your products in walk right past your bagels without so much as a sidelong glance. Why? Because they are looking for a different type of baked, round treats made from flour: doughnuts. Through this bagel/doughnut example, you can see how putting your product in the wrong place or marketing it to the wrong people can actually prevent sales and growth and do long-term damage to your company.

Wrong placement = wrong customers

Let's take a closer look at that bagel company. if the bagels are incorrectly placed (as in, inside a doughnut shop where they - let's be honest, here - stand no chance whatsoever), the following results are possible:

  • The person who actually wants your bagel may not be able to locate it (for example, they would be inclined to look in a bakery, not a doughnut shop).

  • Customers that see your product in an awkward placement may become confused (for example, are they actually doughnuts that look suspiciously like bagels?).

  • The risk of customer dissatisfaction increases (imagine if you got a bagel when you were expecting a doughnut - gross!).

  • Sales could decrease because the wrong types of people see the product and are not interested (if you're in a doughnut shop, you're already committed to that sweet treat).

  • As a result of these things, the customer that purchases the product has a lower chance of making another purchase from you in the future

This article is meant to leave you with more than just a craving for doughnuts, but with this lesson: just because you sell bagels doesn't mean you should try to get your product into a doughnut shop.

© BizAcademi Training Inc.

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