When I ask, “Who is a potential client or customer for you?” I can almost hear the majority of you say, “Everyone!” It’s the most common answer I get to this question. Let’s try a new perspective to identify the BEST customer for you. When I was building my business, one of my business advisors guided me through an exercise that I found to be priceless in helping me focus on the right clients. It changed they way I marketed, increased my profit, and helped me become more efficient in signing new customers. After 15 years in business, the answers really haven’t changed. It was pivotal for me so I want to share it with you.
Identify Your Best Customer Using ABCD
The ABCD exercise goes like this, make a big cross on a page or white board. Label the upper left hand corner A, upper right hand corner B, lower left is C, lower right is D. (Download a copy of the ABCD graphic.)
Write down your perfect client or customer. They’ve got lots of money, they really need your product or services, they’re easy to work with, expand on what it is that makes them perfect for you. Dream big. I’m inspired by Las Vegas casinos’ ability to spot this person when they walk onto the gaming floor. They call them “The Whale” because they are a prize catch and are likely to be rare.
Write down the good reliable customer that you are already working with or expect will need your services. These are solid, you like them, and definitely want more of these.
Now you’ll write down the customer that has a lot of needs but possibly a smaller budget or they aren’t as reliable when it comes to repeat business. Their marketplace, labor, or needs are more fluid and likely to be influenced by a down economy.
This customer might really want your services or product but their budget is small to non-existent. You may have worked with these types of clients before and the success rate is lower than you’d like for a variety of reasons. They demand more of your time and effort for less profit. Maybe they’re a downright pain in your backside.
What Mine Look Like
These are my ABCD clients. Yours will be very different. I’m simply showing you my thought process so you have an example to work with while you are building your own.
My A Client is governments. Why? They have a real budget, I make more per hour/contract than with my other clients, they have a large staff that require my services again and again. If I get one government client, I work with them for a minimum of 5 years. (Sidenote – I love working with governments because the work is the most challenging out of any other project. I also don’t have a lot of competition. Anyone can post to Instagram but can they do it for an industry that has the most compliance and legal concerns of any? Go towards spaces where there’s a need but not a lot of competition.)
My B Client is a company over 50 employees. Their needs and budget is smaller than my A client but they value what I do and are willing to pay for it. They are focused, professional, and reliable. Generally a pleasure to work with.
My C Client is an organization under 10 employees and non-profits. The smaller orgs often expect too much of their marketing teams without enough resources. I can help them but I don’t make as much money from this client. They also have a limited budget, sometimes grant funded.
My D Clients are restaurants, real estate agents, and body workers. Restaurants have such a low profit margin, they are perpetually in the danger zone. They NEVER have the staff to support social media strategy and my services are often wasted. I’ve had successful real estate clients but agents usually prefer to outsource social media to an assistant or a third party vendor rather than learn the basics or do it themselves. They usually tell me they are too busy to do social (that means it isn’t a priority because everyone is busy.) Body workers are sole proprietors that have no support or time and my services cost more than is comfortable for their budget. The effort to get these clients (on boarding emails, phone calls, and followup) outweighs the value I gain monetarily.
What Do You Do With This Info?
The whole point of identifying your client priorities is so you know where to focus your attention. I’m telling you right now, A & B clients should be your main focus. B is already paying your bills, you definitely want more of them. But you also want to cast a line to catch more As or whales. These are the ones that you only need a few but they make up a large quantity of your profit.
(I wrote a blog called “Who is Your Customer?” that you’ll want to check out when you’re done with this one. It’ll help you flesh out what you learn here.)
Be in the physical rooms these organizations are in. Educate yourself on their needs, get on mailing lists, and up your professional development around those industries. Write copy on your website, collateral, ads, social media content specifically geared to catch the A and B clients. You can build special service offerings just for them. State it on your website that that’s the type of customer or organization that you specialize in helping. It’s manifestation at work.
Avoid spending time trying to catch the Ds, they aren’t worth your precious time. I’m not saying don’t work with them, I’m saying don’t spend valuable time attracting them. Don’t seek them out. In fact when people say, “You should work with X” and you know they sit in the D category for you, you can say, “It’s a good idea but actually, my service or product doesn’t usually work for that type of client.” I offer some solutions such as a library book, a course I know about, or another company that I trust that’s a better fit. You don’t have to work with them. You can be upfront and say you don’t have the time or just be super honest and tell them what you think would work better.
Your time is finite. You have to prioritize your time if you want to have ownership on how it plays out. This exercise should work for your organization regardless if you are a service based business, a non profit looking for donations, or even selling a product. We are all solution providers, helping people and organizations solve their problems. Get focused on where the flow of money is coming from.
Learn more from my Strategy Series.
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