In helping our members develop a world class and world beating strategy he asked the question “who are your customers?” Nothing new there you might think, (although members were challenged like never before and it became clear that their understanding was more than a little patchy in places), but his follow up question was most profound: “who aren’t your customers?”
Too many companies believe their products and services can be bought by everyone, and whilst this might be technically true, I don’t believe it’s possible to do so. The attempt to market to everyone will result in connecting with very few as you become vanilla, beige, bland; not standing out to anyone in an attempt to appeal to all.
A quick look at a dozen estate agencies’ web sites reveals that they all have a tab saying “Landlords” and on this page they describe their letting service in general terms. But who is the customer? Does someone letting out their home for 2 years, as they take a job overseas, have the same issues, concerns and interests as a landlord with a portfolio of 10 or more properties? Does a first time landlord require a different approach to one who has let properties for a decade or more? Is a landlord with a property suitable for students to rent requiring a different service to someone with a holiday cottage?
I’m not saying you can’t service different markets but I think it’s very difficult if not impossible to serve them all, so the first thing Rowan Jackson suggests is to identify the people you don’t want as customers and then ignore these groups. Having narrowed down your target audiences, you can then seek to engage with each but to do so requires either different brands or clearly defined, individually tailored propositions.
One company that understands this really well is Moneypenny. On their home page they state “We look after your telephone calls. That’s all we do. We do it superbly.” Moneypenny decided many years ago that they would not make outbound calls and people wanting this service were not their customers. However, people who want their inbound calls answered were all potential prospects. Despite this they still had too broad an audience so, as you can see from their homepage, they cleverly provide two options:
• Entrepreneurs and smaller businesses
• Larger businesses
Having selected one, the customer is then offered products suitable to their size and need.
Many people won’t get this concept and will continue to believe they can be all things to all people but take a look at the most successful brands, whether they be global such as Apple, BMW or Nike, or homegrown such as John Lewis, Waitrose, Virgin and Dyson – they might all be available to everyone but in fact they market to carefully selected targets – so should you.