Tag Archives: Target Market

What’s really crucial to the future of small business?

What’s really crucial to the future of small business?

Jim Blasingame knows. He talks about it every day on his radio show which is dedicated to Small Business.

And he knows what he’s talking about, partly because he interviews, or just chats with, all kinds of successful entrepreneurs. I know Jim quite well because I’ve enjoyed being a guest on his show many times.

That’s why I was excited to get his new book The Age of the Customer. The subhead Prepare for the moment of relevance is a great 6-word summary of the book. I plan on rereading it more slowly this weekend.


My first reading was a little hurried. When I got the book, first thing I did was scan the table of contents, flip to page 197 “Blasingame’s Laws” and read the laws.

Along the way to page 197, I noticed dozens and dozens of little shadow boxes embedded in the text. They all had the same headline: “THIS WILL BE ON THE TEST” followed by short gems of wisdom, such as The definition of home has changed, and One of the most effective sales behaviors is as old as selling: the Call Back.

The whole book is about something you already know. Selling has changed. The seller was once in charge of information, now the buyer is.

It’s The Age of the Customer.

So What?

That’s actually a normal reaction. I think Ron Johnson must have said something like that as he was driving J.C. Penney into the ground. So what?

Jim Blasingame tells you so what. He also tells you why and how. He might tell you things you don’t want to know, such as you need a mobile app. But once you read the why, you’ll get a mobile app.

Don’t understand why you need to be relevant? Oh, you will and you’ll catch up in a hurry.

The Age of the Customer is clearly a work in progress. Jim doesn’t have the final word here (nobody does) but he does have the latest word and, more important, he has the relevance (make sure you read that chapter twice). If you run a small business, he has the relevance you need right now. Trust me on this.

The shaded boxes made everything he wrote about come alive for me, because I’ve been in similar predicaments. There’s one case where a woman has checked into a hotel, and had forgotten to make a reservation at a restaurant for her to meet with her clients the following day. It was late at night and she took out her laptop, and found her favorite restaurant had a listing, but no website, the second restaurant had a website with a phone number, but it was after hours…so no good to her. The third one had a website and she could book a reservation for the next day, which she did.

The Age of the Customer drives home the importance of all the things you need to make the customer happy in today’s marketplace.

There are just over 200 pages in The Age of the Customer and 26 chapters plus 8 other sections such as laws, index, and an interesting foreword from Steve Forbes, Chairman of Forbes Media.

I’m already waiting for the next edition. Most of the chapters will grow over time.

This is a book for the ages, and hopefully it will give you some great pointers on how to bring your business into today’s world!

Good luck and let me know how it’s working for you.

 

You might want to treat your best customers like royalty.

You might want to treat your best customers like royalty.

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When my Dad owned a jewelry manufacturing company in New York City, buyers would come into the showroom and look at his current season’s merchandise.

That showroom was really beautiful, a lot prettier than our own living room at home. There were plush couches and ottomans, and sparkling showcases with
figurines in them.  Black velvet showed off his costume jewelry.

One time I asked him why he had such a fancy place, when we needed a new couch (so I could show off to my friends too).

He said that “you have to make your best customers feel special”. When you stop doing that, they start buying elsewhere. Actually, the relationship regresses and when you see the person again, there is an awkwardness. This happens when companies start changing who they think their target market really is.

I think that happened with Chico’s. They sell women’s clothes, and had lycra kinds of outfits in black and other colors that were easy to coordinate. I bought them all the time, because they don’t crease in my suitcase, and I can put them in the washing machine.

Then Chico’s started going after a younger demographic. They added linen clothes to their racks, and the Southwestern look that might attract new customers. What happened? They lost me, for sure, and lots of women like me who travel all the time.

Who wants a Southwestern look in New York City?

So, consider who your best customers are, treat them very well, and don’t go in some weird direction…hoping to find more customers, and then alienating me (a power shopper)!

40 Creative Ideas That Work – Part 2

40 Creative Ideas That Work – Part 2

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Continued…

20. Your best list is your current customer file. Your second best list is probably past customers. They’re your greatest direct marketing assets. Use them! But make sure the files are clean and up-to-date.

21. Direct response lists are always your best bet for outside lists. Someone who’s bought something through the mail is more likely to buy from you … especially if they’re recent buyers.

22. Have you ever tried a compiled list? Of course. Have you ever tried slanting the creative to the compiled list? Probably not. Names on most compiled lists have one thing in common (lawyers, accountants, soccer Moms, etc.). Whatever that one thing is, try reflecting it in your creative.

23. Use a great list broker. Ask for references, and describe your goals, package and target market. These are bright, dedicated people who want to do a great job so you’ll use them again and again.

24. Try to make your direct mail look and sound like it was touched by a human being. Customers and prospects tend to respond better when they feel like they are interacting with a real person.

25. Make sure all of your communications have the same brand personality. Read the rest of this entry

Is Your Pipeline Full?

Is Your Pipeline Full?

A couple of months ago, two engineers dropped by our office to talk about a lead generation program for their consultancy business. “Things are slow,” said one of them, “and we might have to lay off some of our staff.”

So we asked questions and learned about how they made their money, got an idea of their budget and they went away while we went to work developing a program for them.

I called them a week or so later to set up our next meeting and they asked if we could postpone for a while because they were up to their elbows on a new project that had just come in.

“Sure, we can wait,” I said.

I wanted to add “But I don’t know if you can” and then ask if he’d ever heard of Howard Ruff.

Howard Ruff was one of the first of those financial self-help authors. At one point, back in the ‘70s, his newsletter “Ruff Times” had 175,000 subscribers. If he still has that many, all those $149 subscriptions bring in about $2,600,000 a year. He had his own syndicated TV show for a while and he’s written a lot of books. One of them was on the NYT bestseller list for over two years.

I remember him for one great line he came up with back in 1975. He wrote “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”

Read the rest of this entry