Fisherman, I mean the true dye in the wool, serious fisherman have a secret that often they will take to the grave. It is a secret that is born from experimentation, experience, and most importantly success. It is something they guard from other fisherman, and they will go to great lengths to do so. What are they protecting?
Their fishing spot.
The fishing spot is where the fish are biting, and the biggest catches are made. It is usually a small part of a body of water, but a part that a fisherman would call their own. It can take some time for the fisherman to find the spot- they could go to many lakes and rivers. It can take months or even years, but once they find that spot that is right for them, they silently claim it, and that is where they go to fish.
In business, salespeople are fishing for customers. First they have to determine who they are fishing for, their target audience. This is what I refer to as Society. This is a broad paint brush stroke to begin with and defines the industry your company falls within.
For example, suppose you are running a software company. The next obvious question is- Who are you serving? What problem does your company solve and who does it solve it for? For our example, lets say you are a medical software company. This is still a large industry, but in order to dig deeper, you must define who your ideal customer is.
Many people miss this step. They can define what their company does as far as what they produce, but they don’t really define who their ideal customer is. The can create a diffused brand. If you don’t know who your ideal customers are, then how will you connect with them? Also, how will you know they need? If you do not know what they need, how do you know that you are providing the right product or service.
You may have to do some marketing research to determine two things. First, who truly is your ideal customer and what it is that they need. You can do surveys online, or hire a marketing company to do a survey for you.
There something that assessing who your ideal customer also provides you that is just as important, it lets you know who is NOT your ideal customer. If you marketing efforts are to the wrong people, then you will waste time, money and risk the longevity of your company. It only makes sense that you would not be selling medical software in a car dealership. However, the medical field is quite wide, and sometimes you may be trying to sell to the wrong people. This happens when you have not really determined who your ideal client is. You may be contacting presidents of hospitals or CFOs when you may really need to be talking to office managers.
In our example, let’s say that the software is for insurance billing. It has codes, and a format that allows for instant billing to insurance companies once the data from the doctor and nurse is complete. Who would be you ideal customer? Is it the doctor? The doctor would be using the software to input data. It is also important that the doctor have a steady income to keep the practice afloat. This might be a great tool for a doctor, but are they your target customer.
The nurse in a practice may be sitting while the doctor is seeing the patient and inputting the information, depending on the practice. But are they your ideal customer?
The insurance person in the office may see your software as the greatest thing since sliced bread, and that it would make their job so much easier. But are they personally going to buy your software. It could be expensive and everyone in the office would have to be on board with using the software, and it could mean everyone will need to carry around a laptop or a mobile device.
Finally, there is the office manager, who may use the software least of all, but they are in charge of purchases for the office. They are in charge the budget and office procedures. However, they may not fully understand the need for the software, and they may also have to get approval from the doctors to make such a large purchase.
Don’t sweat it in this example, as there is no right or wrong answer. It really depends on the industry, and how new software is purchased in doctor’s offices. There may need to be some research involved to answer that question. It may be all of those people may be part of the answer and that you would need to set up demonstrations for the doctors and staff, in order to make a decision.
Part of the answer about who is ideal customer is to why they want to solve a particular solution. What is in it for them? In our example, the solution was that it was taking too much time to get insurance claims filed, which was hurting the cash flow of the practice. Part of the slow down was sending the claims back to doctors and nurses for information or signatures. Having a system that did this process in real time and sent the claim as soon as it was completed virtually, could save time, reduction tension and increase cash flow. In addition it increased productivity and the person in charge of insurance could spend more of her time troubleshooting returned claims, which again sped up the process for payment.
Once you have decided who your ideal customer is, you have to determine where they can be found. Which mediums will you use to market your product and company? This again is a bit of trial & error and research. Using our fishing example, a fisherman may have found the best spot to find the best fish, but now he has to decide how to bait his hook. Does he use live bait? Lures? What types work best for the type of fish he is after? Believe there is a whole industry that sells lures with all sorts of promises of success- but a fisherman has to try a few to determine what is the best choice. That choice can even change over time- the same way that a company has to decide whether current marketing efforts are still relevant.
The way people connect and communicate has changed rapidly just this last decade. I sometimes chuckle when I see a phone book on my doorstep. It is much smaller than it used to be, but I cannot help wonder- who still is advertising their business that way. Twenty or thirty years ago, before the adoption of the Internet and Social Media, a phone book add was the way to go, especially if you had a local business. Now people use search engines and websites to look for a plumber, a doctor or any other service provider or store. Those that did not adapt to this shift in the way people were buying, may have gone the way of the dinosaurs- into extinction. Knowing today where you can connect with clients is important; but being on top of trends and the way your ideal clients buy tomorrow is just as essential.