Clone Your Best Client!

John Tabita

In my last article, I talked about how setting your sights on “small to medium-sized businesses” was casting your net too wide. That was the problem I faced when I took over our telemarketing department in 2007. I had tons of leads to call, so at the start of a canvass, my team would simply start at the beginning and call through the list. By the end of the calling canvass, sometimes the lists would be completely called through and sometimes not.

This meant many businesses received only two or three calls at most. If the first two went to voice mail and the third was unanswered, then we never even came close to reaching a decision-maker. Once I identified that problem, the next obvious question was, how much time and how many calls should we invest attempting to reach any one particular business?

Here’s how segmenting your market can address that question. As I explained in the last article, a market segment is a group of companies or organizations with one or more characteristics in common that cause them to have similar product and/or service needs. The “characteristics in common” I was looking for was: how much money does that particular type of business typically spend on Yellow Page advertising? Once I had that information, the question of “how many times should we call?” became painfully obvious: spend more time calling people who buy more. If you try to define your target market simply as “anyone who needs a website,” or “small to medium-sized businesses,” then you’re not being specific enough. Here’s another way to look at it: You need to clone your best client.

By far, attorneys are our best clients. Yet we were spending no additional effort to contact them. Once I realized this, I decided to divide up our database by Verticals, that is, by the type of businesses that were our largest advertisers. I started off with the top 10; so besides attorneys, my research turned up a list that also included plumbing contractors, dentists, physicians, auto repair, and home improvement contractors.

The results, were nothing short of dramatic. We implemented this strategy in June. By the end of that year, attorney sales had increased by nearly 700 percent over the previous five months.

Did I also mention that attorneys tend to spend more? I could have focused the same effort on, say restaurants, who are also big Yellow Page advertisers, but their average buy is about half of what the average attorney spends. So the same amount of effort yielded twice the sales volume. My point is, don’t waste time chasing prospects that need your services. Find the ones who want it. The way I determined that is to look at which of these businesses buy the most.

What I’ve just described is segmenting your market by Vertical, or industry type. But my last article also talked about doing so by Firmographics—that is, characteristics such as employee numbers, revenue size, number of locations, years in business, and so forth. I can take what I’ve done with attorneys and make it even more powerful by examining the firmographics of our existing attorney client base, creating a profile of our typical attorney client, then specifically targeting other attorneys that fit that profile.

This is easy to do if you have a decent client base, but what if you have just one good client you’d like to clone? You have to start somewhere. My best web client had the following characteristics:

  • Family-owned
  • 100+ employees
  • Multiple businesses under one roof
  • Marketing director responsible for advertising and marketing, but no in-house design team
  • Provided steady, on-going work
  • Always paid on time
  • Never tried to negotiate a lower rate
  • Sent me a gift basket each Christmas

Some of these characteristics you can’t know until you start doing business with a company, yet it’s a good thing to include them on your list. Remember, if you don’t know what you want, you’ll end up taking whatever you can get. If being paid on time is important, then you might decide to fire the client that doesn’t.

Targeted marketing works because it makes your efforts more effective. A lead generator can be super-efficient and make 150 calls a day. But if those 150 calls are random and non-targeted, his results will be less than stellar. Why not focus your efforts on marketing to those who buy more often and spend more? We did, and the results speak for themselves.

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  • http://hashedin.com Himanshu

    Good insights.

    This will work good, when you are giving cold calls, based on the database that you may have. But this may not work out well in all the cases, like getting users through online channel.

    In the case of online customer acquisition, you know the minimal about the customer, other than few of their personal information (like demographic, etc). In those cases, if you have a process to follow-up, then it could be an issues as there is no way for you to divide the customers into different buckets. I think it will be hit and trial, based on the actions done by customer and then making an assumption and going ahead with the process.

  • http://herodesignstudio.com Jeff Mason

    Please describe your best practices for using those firmographics to find other clients just like them. What tools? What processes?

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      That’s probably another article entirely. But, in brief, you can use a tool such as Sales Genie to get firmographics on your existing clients, then create a list of prospects with similar firmographics to target. Chose which are most important to you. (Annual revenue would top my list.)

      The one thing any tool will not tell you is whether they do it in-house or not. I just received a call today from someone who told me her company “helps businesses gain new clients through their outsourced telemarketing service.” When I told her I was the telemarketing manager of our in-house telemarketing department, she got embarrassed, apologized and hung up.

  • Hung Pham

    Great post!
    Can you share more information? Top 10 of what? Revenue? Or the number of clients you have in that field?

    Thanks.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      I took the top 10 types of businesses that spend the most money with us. I created 2 lists: 1 based on total revenue, and another based on average sale. I put both into a spreadsheet and sorted from highest to lowest. Then I looked for which types of businesses that both spent the most overall and had a higher-than-average sale, and created a target list from the results.