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john jantsch

As I wrote in a post about The Old Man, The Boy and The Donkey, trying to be all things to all people is basically slow death to almost any business, but especially small business.

I came across a post today (again from John Jantsch) that addresses this subject, with a simple question and a challenge – Are You Waffling?

To quote some of his post: “In an attempt to broaden their market appeal [many businesses] craft target market descriptions that leave room for just about anyone who pledges to pay the bill, eventually. Or, equally offending, it takes 10-15 minutes to explain how they are different, you know, in a way that won’t turn any potential customers off.

Here’s the secret to success in good times and bad – stop waffling. Take a stand and make a marketing strategy commitment you can stick with.

Define your target market as narrowly as is humanly possible. Start by looking long and hard and what your profitable customers, the ones that already refer business to you, look like, think like, live like, value and fear. Now, eliminate all the jerks, cause you don’t have to work with them. Shake and not stir . . .”

He goes on to issue a challenge, but it’s the same challenge I ask every business I work with to take up…

Clearly define (demographically, geographically and/or psychographically) who are the kinds of customers you love to work with, find a way to exclude or at the very least dissuade the ‘clients from hell’ (and we’ve all had ’em!) that you don’t want to work with, and then target everything you do to your ideal customer.

There’s a principle called the Rule of Thirds when it comes to marketing, and it’s a rule you want to be comfortable with.  Basically, if you’re being really clear about who you’re marketing to, and what it is about you and the way you do business that’s unique or memorable, you hit the mark when:

  • 1/3rd of people love you for it
  • 1/3rd of people hate you for it
  • 1/3rd of people couldn’t give a monkeys either way

True talkability comes from having both passionate enthusiasts, and equally passionate detractors.  People love to argue, and if they’re arguing about loving or hating you, they’re talking about you – “Love me or hate me, but don’t ignore me!”

Now, let’s be clear here – if people hate you because your product or service is rubbish or sub-standard in some way, or you act like a complete a***-hole, then that’s definitely not a good thing.

However, taking me as an example, if people don’t like me because I’m a Northerner; I speak my mind; I call a spade a spade; and, although I can be very diplomatic, I tend not to pull my punches when discussing my opinion on marketing – then that’s just fine with me.

I don’t want to have to mind my P’s and Q’s when I’m trying to help you.  If you want marketing advice from someone who’ll pussyfoot about, and wrap you up in faint praise and flattery, you really need to be talking to someone else.  The door’s over there….ta. 😀

On the other hand, if you want straightforward, to the point, “that bit’s great, that bit’s OK, that bit sucks – and here’s several concrete ideas you can use to fix it”, then I’m your man.

I get very excitable sometimes, I talk a lot with my hands, and I do swear (mildly) sometimes – but if that’s how you want your marketing advice delivered, you’re in the right place my friend.

So – back to you.  Are you trying to be all things to all people, and getting dismissed as just another ‘whatever’?  If you are, then you’re kissing your ass goodbye

If you want help defining your ideal customer, and some support and ‘borrowed courage’ in standing out from the crowd, call me or drop me a line – I’d love to hear from you.

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The definition of branding (for small businesses)

November 5, 2008

I came across a great blog post today from a well-known and very successful small business marketer called John Jantsch, creator and author of Duct Tape Marketing. In it, John gives a great definition of both marketing, and branding, as applied to small businesses: “Marketing is getting someone who has a need to know, like […]

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