I believe in the Law of Attraction - "like attracts like," or rather the universe provides you with what you ask for. This includes "bad" customers. This is why people tell you to carefully choose your words - it's up to you to ask for what you really want.
I got inspired to write this after reading an article by John Jantsch, Customer Loyalty Is Mostly About Choosing the Right Customers. What he wrote that got me thinking about this more:
Now, you may not exactly love the clients you’ve attracted, but that’s because you don’t realize the power you wield when it comes to “choosing” your clients. Far too many business owners feel powerless in this regard and subject themselves to serving “anyone with money” or worse “anyone they hope will pay.”
Just following money won't give you the customers you need. Sure, it helps you pay the bills, and that's important, but it's not you creating something you love and a business that will grow. You shouldn't be afraid to ask for what you really want - in fact, creating a business plan forces you to do just that.
Business 101: choose a target market for your product or service. In some ways, creating a business plan and getting a business started is basically asking the universe for something.
You determine what you want to sell, refine your ideas, create a plan to get customers, get an appealing logo for your company and start emailing, promoting, and selling. You do your marketing and get the word out there. You believe that you are well on your way to get the customers you think you want.
And then the type of customers you thought you were going to get don't show up. Why?
As Jantsch writes in his article, if you re-evaluate your plans, you may realize that you are actually targeting the type of customer you want based on the experience you designed. And you realize that what you designed will not get the type of customer you originally wanted. (Read about the kids and the dance company - that's a great example of this.)
However, looking at the customers you are getting - you did, in fact, get the customers you asked for.
I've often witnessed a company believing that they know the target customer, but the logo, Web site, messaging, etc. just aren't where they need to be to attract the type of customer desired- it is attracting someone different. Sometimes, the collateral attracts someone like the owners or manager because they are making decisions based on their own preferences rather than what is best for the business. Sometimes there are other factors involved - cost efficiencies, shaving schedules, and more.
Remember, most customers get over 5,000 marketing messages per day. They don't have the patience to absorb another message or the time to try to figure out what your message is. Keep it simple and direct. But like everything - the devil is in the details.
Here are some subtleties that I observed over the years that can subconsciously change someone's perspective about your product or service for the better.
Make sure what you are selling comes is easily communicated on your Web site, marketing collateral, messaging, logo - the works! It sounds simple - but it isn't.
- Your logo should connect to what the company does. It's subtle, but it confuses customers when they don't understand how your logo represents what you do and your company's name. Most customers subconsciously connect a logo with what a company does. If the logo doesn't do this, people won't understand what you are doing or why - they will be confused at a subconscious level and just leave. The price you pay for being vague in hope of greater opportunity may be high - no opportunity.
- Be clear and specific about what your company does. How many times have you gone to a Web site to learn about what a company does and all you learn is - well, you don't quite learn anything. There is no product or service list. There is no executive summary paragraph. That's because the company doesn't want to risk losing out on your business. But to a customer - he doesn't see the company as reliable or responsible because it can't simply explain what it does. This should be easy enough. Confusion can cost you opportunity and dollars.
- Do you dress nicely to visit customers? If you do then you need snappy marketing collateral. Even the best players in the word-of-mouth world need a great Web site and business cards. Your marketing materials are like clothes for your company. If your clothes don't look nice, people won't take you seriously. Investing $500 on a decent logo will shift the perception people have of your company. They will take you seriously and be more open to work with you. That $500 investment suddenly is invaluable. It's like a good suit - and who complains about buying a great suit for work?
- You have a professional business - have professionally designed logo. Sure, you may not have budget to get a great logo, Web site, or a brochure. But at the same time, someone could be subconsciously driven away because they think you have a hobby company that is only open on the weekends or crazy hours. Or they may assume that you don't take your own business seriously enough to invest to get a half-way decent professional logo done. (See the suit example - employers sometimes think this during interviews). There are a number of do-it-yourself sites out there (Wix, Squarespace, Site2you, Homestead) that you can use to create a professional looking site. There aren't a lot of excuses for this anymore.
Give your customers what they need to be successful when they work with you - not what you think they need.
- Make your contact information easy to find. My pet peeve - companies that hide their phone numbers on their site. When I can't find a company's phone number to call them about a product or service, I figure that it doesn't want new customers. I also figure that it doesn't value its existing customers - they just don't want anyone to reach them. Your message to them is loud and clear - don't call us.
- Respect your customer's time - organize your Web site and store so that it is easy to navigate. No one wants to waste a bunch of time trying to figure out your business and how you work. Doing this makes it clear that your business is about you - and who wants to work with that? Look at this from a customer's perspective - if a site or store is complicated and confusing, what would it be like to do business with you? Customers do think about such things.
- Ask your customers how you can help them so you can serve them better. Asking customers how you can help them - either in your store or online or through surveys - make them feel like they are part of your business. You care enough to get their opinions, and it builds a relationship with them. The best feedback comes from customers you have "wronged" so to speak. Take that as an opportunity to improve. This is the only way to know if you are truly serving them and that they are happy. Otherwise, you can only assume, and we know where assumptions get us.
These are just a few ideas for taking your business more seriously so that you get the customers you want. If you communicate clearly to customers what you are offering, most likely, the customers you truly want will find their way to you.
How have you found the customers you wanted? I look forward to hearing your stories!