Not long ago I was in a meeting with a potential client. This company manufactures a product for homes and sells through distributers. “The thing is,” I was told, “we have multiple customers: One is the distributor and the other is the homeowner. We need to market to the distributor to get him to buy and push our products, and then we need to market to the homeowner so they know who we are.”
When they said they had multiple customers, what they really meant was they they were trying to sell to more than one target market. I was a little surprised to hear this because it runs counter to traditional marketing. To make your marketing effective, you should identify one target market, or customer group, understand them and then gear your messaging so that it will resonate with them.
How you sell widgets to young, millennial, first-time, home buyers, for example, will be different than how you would to seniors looking to down-size.
So my advice to this group was to refocus on one target market and to do that, they should follow the money.
Many businesses have customer bases that can be wide-ranging and cut across demographic lines. They might appear to have multiple customers, but they really don’t. For example, while a hardware store might serve customers from age 30 to 70, they typically have one thing in common: they are all homeowners. This is what unites them into one target market.
However, when you have multiple customers with competing interests and goals, your ability to effectively market your products or services is reduced. To reach the different groups, you have to split your efforts and resources, thus cutting your effectiveness.
This is not a sound strategy and it will only produce marginal results.
The solution to having multiple customers is to dig a little deeper to understand who your one, true customer really is. You do this by following the trail of where your sales revenue originates.
At first glance, it appears that revenue is generated by the sales efforts of the distributors. After all, when they make a sale, they send a check to the manufacturer. You can easily follow the money to the distributor.
But if you follow the flow of money to the next level you’ll see that the true source of the sales revenue is actually the consumer. They are the ones, in the end, who choose one brand over the other. So the consumer is your true source of sales revenue, and that’s where you should focus your marketing efforts.
When I suggested this to the company above, they answered by saying that the distributors need constant prodding and pushing so that they will sell their products. I responded by saying that if you effectively market to consumers, they will request your products from the distributors. What more prodding would they need?
Consumers are motivated by many different factors when choosing one brand over the other. They might be motivated by price, quality, name recognition or even packaging.
In the scenario described above, the manufacturer will need to do the marketing research to better understand what motivates their target consumer and then create marketing and advertising that resonates with them. Then, those consumers will search out that brand and request it, thus driving the sales of the distributers.
The manufacturer can also offer rebate programs and offer sales that will help motivate distributors.
Following this strategy will eliminate the challenges of having multiple customers and streamline your marketing, making it more effective.
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Bob Turner is a Small Business Social Media Consultant with Social Flair Marketing.