Clone Your Best Client!

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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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John TabitaJohn Tabita
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Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.

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