My first marketing experiences were with College Pro Painters in Sudbury, Ontario. At age 21, I was given a franchise territory of about 90,000 people, and I was enthusiastic about marketing house-painting services to all of them!
When you’re faced with such a large territory, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Where do you start? Whom do you target? How do you properly use your marketing budget?
The truth was, I didn’t need to market to the 90,000 people my territory—and doing so would not only be ineffective but also foolish. Instead, in order to make a profit, I only needed to paint 150 out of the 35,000 houses in Sudbury.
In short, marketing is less about reaching everyone and more about reaching those most in need for your services. I had to get my name in front of the people who were most likely to buy.
From that experience I learned a valuable lesson: the best marketing is focused marketing, and there are three golden rules to creating focused marketing.
Know Your Target Market
At College Pro Painters, we knew that the type of clients we wanted lived on curvy streets in houses that had brass kick plates on the front doors. They had manicured lawns and drove BMWs and Volvos. And, most importantly, their houses were in need of a paint job but weren’t completely falling apart. Once I knew which group to focus on, I marketed solely to them rather than the entire city of Sudbury. Some neighborhoods were completely ignored while others were targeted every week, all summer long.
Don’t Get Sidetracked
My marketing efforts were so focused that if prospects called from areas outside of my target market, I simply told them I didn’t service their areas. Some might balk at turning away a customer, but I was focused on building my name in my target market. I was willing to walk away from clients who were outside of my focus areas rather than risk losing prospects within my target areas. Losing my focus would spread my resources too thin.
While this may seem counterintuitive, you’ll see that it’s not if you look at it from a brand-building perspective: rather than being just another company of professional painters, College Pro Painters was being molded into the painting company of choice for a very specific market, and I was counting on the profitability that comes from being so hyper-focused.
A few years later, I proved that the concept of focused marketing to targeted prospects really worked. Still with College Pro Painters, I hired a franchisee named Rob Gallagher, whom I trained and mentored. Rob owned an area called Chapin Estates, with a population of 1,667 people.
Although there were roughly six hundred homes in his area, Rob needed to paint just thirty of those houses to make a killing that summer. I showed him that, on average, people painted their homes every five years, which meant that approximately 120 houses would need to be painted that summer. We put a plan in place so that every one of those 120 houses knew the name “College Pro Painters.”
Rob told me later that summer that people called him by name in the neighborhood because he’d gotten in front of them so many times. Rob saw that a 25 percent market share was possible because he was going to be more focused than all the competitors. He ended up painting forty houses that summer and made $20,000 in profit. Not bad for a twenty-year-old university student in 1989.
Marketers know that people won’t think to use your product or service if they don’t know your brand.
Focused marketers also know that people also won’t think to use your product or service if they’re not inclined to do so in the first place. This gives focused marketers a distinct advantage in the marketplace.
Don’t just market; focus your marketing to make a killing. Find the right audience and get the right message out there.
Cameron Herold coaches entrepreneurs on five continents, helping them build their companies. He started BackPocket COO to coach and mentor young, fun companies. Herold was Chief Operating Officer of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? for nearly seven years. Prior to that, he was VP of Corporate Development at Ubarter.com
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