Why Your Target Market Is Not, That’s Right, Not Important

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Entrepreneur Magazine posted this article earlier today and it’s 100% spot on. Post your feedback below.

Every business growth program on the market begins the same way: In Chapter One, Module One or Video One, you’re told to “figure out your target market.” You’re given examples. Then your business manual moves on to the next step — leaving you with a gaping hole in your business.

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The reason: A “target market” is not necessarily that important. If you’re gasping at that sentence, keeping reading:

The reason a target market is not that important is that when you have clarity (I mean real clarity), you are positioned to help your ideal clients achieve their goals and overcome their problems. Clarity creates impact for your clients and more value. And it starts with knowing the answers to these two questions:

Whom you serve — Knowing that you are here to serve a specific segment gives you the clarity to reach that segment’s customers and make compelling offers. 

What problems you solve – There is no business unless you generate results for your clients. But first, you have to understand the specific problem your clients have in order to create the solution.

In general, the world of business is an endless struggle due to three kinds of pressure:

Competitiveness. There are so many providers and little-to-no distinction made about the product from the perspective of the buyer.

Information overload. 
So much content (written, audio and video) is being developed, and aims to get your attention, that we (as consumers) train ourselves to ignore what does not appeal directly to us.

Doing what everyone else does.
When businesses struggle to get leads and new business (apart from referrals), their problem is likely due to their being a “jack of all trades” or in the business of being “all things to all people.” Yet those characteristics make for a trap that only leads to more struggle and stress.

Established businesses see the signs when they have a stressed cash flow, when they’re not closing more profitable work, when they’re not attracting the right customers. These problems are all connected, if you think about it. And there is a way to shift this in your favor.

In fact, the first step in developing your marketing (and your brand) is to define your specific audience. This word “specific” is the key word. It’s the slice of the market that is ready for your offer. Its members understand the benefits of what you sell. They are ready to make a decision.

And this gets us back to “target market,” because your specific audience is a segment inside your target market, or as many call it, your “niche.” Most people stop at the “target market,” however, and just hope to find the right prospectsthere.

This is why your target market is not as important as your niche. Think of the latter as the most important 20 percent of your entire target market.

Think, too, about the difference between the two — though many people use the terms interchangeably. Once you know what customers are in your niche, you can create a strong business to support their specific problems. You can create more depth than width in your impact. 

To grasp the importance of “depth,” check out this video by Gary Vaynerchuk. Says Vaynerchuk: “The world is about depth, not width.” He refers to social interaction, but social interaction also works when you focus on the customers who gain the most from your work.

The more clarity you have for your “specific” audience, the more likely you are to have a profitable and impactful business. I think it can go even further. I refer to the segment of your target market gaining the highest value from your work as the “profitable niche,” those all-important 20 percent.

The benefits of clearly understanding your profitable niche are abundant:

1. Clear direction for your businessMarketing that attracts the right clients (not just any client)
2. Stacks and stacks of references in one area that position you as the authority
3. Exceptional pricing based on the value you create for your clients
4. Attraction of more quality clients
5. Greater impact with every client

Putting the effort into finding your own profitable niche is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. If you want to build a business, you must be certain how to solve the problems of the people you work with.

But if your understanding of your clients’ problems is weak or unclear, you will continue to struggle regardless of your strategy. 

Door-to-Door Selling as the First Step to Billions

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This article is by Gillian Zoe Segal, the author of Getting There: A Book of Mentors.

Before you shell out $160,000 on a business school education, you might want to consider spending a couple of years as a door-to-door salesman instead. That’s what I learned as I researched and wrote my new book, Getting There: A Book of Mentors, in which 30 leaders in a broad range of fields tell about their rocky road to the top. I was surprised to find out how many of them credited early shoe-leather sales jobs for equipping them with the skills they needed for their ultimate success.

 John Paul DeJoria (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of the Patrón Spirits Company and John Paul Mitchell Systems, called his three-year stint selling Collier’s Encyclopedia one of the most formative experiences of his life. “If that job existed today,” he says, “I would make every one of my kids do it.” DeJoria went door-to-door persuading strangers to buy a set of encyclopedias. This forced him to both hone his powers of persuasion and overcome rejection. “After you’ve had 15 doors slammed in your face,” he explained, “you need to be as enthusiastic at door number 16 as you were at the first door, if you want to make a sale.”  When DeJoria launched John Paul Mitchell Systems, he relied on the same skills, going from beauty salon to beauty salon getting people to purchase his hair care products. He recounts that at least four out of every five salons turned him downbut he knew better than to let that discourage him.

Sara Blakely, the billionaire founder of the shapewear company Spanx, had a similar experience in her eight years working for a company that sold fax machines door-to-door. She recalled, “I would wake up in the morning and drive around cold-calling from eight until five. Most doors were slammed in my face. I saw my business card ripped up at least once a week, and I even had a few police escorts out of buildings. It wasn’t long before I grew immune to the word ‘no.’” When she started Spanx, she needed to find someone to make a prototype of her product, and she began by telephoning local hosiery mills. Without exception, they turned her down. So she drew on a lesson she had learned from cold-calling: Face-to-face makes a huge difference. She took a week off of work and drove around North Carolina, popping by many of the same mills that had already rejected her on the phone. She sat in the lobby and waited to speak to the founder or owner. It eventually worked, and the Spanx prototype was born.

From cold-calling, Blakely also learned that you have about 15 seconds to capture someone’s attention—but if you can make them smile or laugh, you get an extra 15 to 30. With no money to grab people’s attention the conventional way, through advertising, she decided to infuse her product with humor wherever she could, from naming it Spanx to writing “We’ve got your butt covered!” on the package. She ended up turning Spanx into something people love to joke about. Her product has been mentioned everywhere from The Oprah Winfrey Show to Gleefor free.

The artist Jeff Koons cut his teeth selling candy door-to-door and then moved on to hawking everything from soft drinks on a local golf course to memberships at the Museum of Modern Art, and mutual funds. “Selling is kind of like fishing” he explained. “To be successful, you have to be persistent and patient.” He is now the most commercially successful artist alive, but it took him nine years after graduating from art school to make enough money from his art to give up having a second job.  Calling on the persistence and patience he had perfected as a salesman, he slowly broke into the art scene by saying yes to any invitation that might give him the opportunity to network, showing his work to anyone who would look, and never refusing an opportunity to exhibit.

During her early modeling years, Kathy Ireland sold herself door-to-door. She explained, “Back then, agencies would send models on ‘go-sees’ to get jobs. The people in charge of hiring would look us up and down and dissect us right in front of our faces. I was rejected a lot. It hurt at first, but I soon learned that it was just part of the process.” She eventually became a successful Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, but as she got older she wanted to pursue a career that was not dependent on her looks. After years of failing with various start-ups (a microbrewery, a skin-care line, and several art projects), she finally launched her own brand, kathy ireland Wordlwide, with a line of socks. It is now a $2 billion enterprise with its name on more than 15,000 products. Ireland frequently advises others, “If you never fail, it means you are not trying hard enough.”

Writing my book, I learned how much success in any field depends on persistence, not fearing failure, and getting others to follow your ideas. What better way could there be to acquire these essential traits than by actually hitting the street?

Why You Don’t Hit Your Goals

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James Clear has a great article up today that my friend Robin Stemberg just shared with me. It’s amazing timing, really – since I just finished laying out my goals for this next quarter!

His point is excellent and I’ll let his words speak for themselves:

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Imagine, for a moment, that your life is like a treasure hunt.

It’s not much of a leap, really. Like any good treasure hunt, you have a map to guide you. In life, the map is your corner of the universe. Some of the areas on the map you know quite well. These areas are the places and people and things that you’re familiar with and that are part of your daily life.

Other areas of the map are foreign to you. These yet-to-be-explored regions are home to the milestones in life that you can imagine reaching, but that have eluded you thus far. This undiscovered portion of the map is where your hopes and goals and dreams live. These goals are like little pieces of buried treasure that are hidden somewhere out on the map, somewhere that you hope to get to soon.

One day, a particular goal grabs your attention and you decide to set out on a treasure hunt.

Searching for Buried Treasure

You begin the long hike toward your treasure and encounter a challenge or two along the way. Already the actual path is starting to look different than the buried treasure that you had been imagining. Things get worse when you finally arrive to the spot of the treasure.

This whole time, you had been imagining a chest filled with gold. After uncovering the treasure, however, all you can find are a few scraps of silver and some antique relics. These items are valuable in their own right, for sure, but they were not what you were thinking about this whole time.

You say to yourself, “This doesn’t look like the treasure I was envisioning! I must be on the wrong path. I wasted all this time!”

After thinking for a few moments, you wonder, “Hmm… maybe I should switch goals? I bet there is bigger treasure elsewhere.”

Theory vs. Practice

I’ve certainly experienced situations similar to the treasure hunt described above. Perhaps you have too.

I’m talking about situations where the goal we were excited to pursue—getting a degree, starting a new exercise routine, making a career change—turns out to look very different in practice than in theory.

It’s natural to feel a sense of disappointment or confusion or frustration when this occurs, but I think the deeper problem is rooted in how we approached the treasure hunt in the first place.

Goals as a Compass

The problem with a treasure hunt is that most people spend all of their time thinking about the treasure. The fastest way to get to a particular spot, however, is to set your compass and start walking.

The idea here is to commit to your goal with the utmost conviction. Develop a clear, single-minded focus for where you are headed. Then, however, you do something strange. You release the desire to achieve a particular outcome and focus instead on the slow march forward.

Pour all of your energy into the journey, be present in the moment, be committed to the path you are walking. Know that you are moving unwaveringly in one clear direction and that this direction is right for you, but never get wrapped up in a particular result or achieving a certain goal by a specific time.

In other words, your goal becomes your compass, not your buried treasure. The goal is your direction, not your destination. The goal is a mission that you are on, a path that you follow. Whatever comes from that path—whatever treasure you happen to find along this journey—well, that’s just fine. It is the commitment to walking the path that matters.

“Letting go of how it might come to pass.”

As far as I can tell, [success] is just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it, while letting go of how it might come to pass. Your job is not to figure out how it’s going to happen for you, but to open the door in your head and when the doors open in real life, just walk through it. Don’t worry if you miss your cue. There will always be another door opening.
–Jim Carrey 

Choose your goals and then forget them. Set them on a shelf. Trust that your direction is true and pour your energy into walking the path. Good goals provide direction to your life. They allow you to commit to a journey. They are like a rudder on a boat, directing your energy and attention in specific direction as you move downstream.

We all have a map to explore. Choose a path and then walk it. 

JAMES CLEAR writes about science-based ideas for building habits that stick and mastering your craft. If you enjoyed this article, then join his free newsletter.

Eat Dessert First

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I begin to close the sale within 10 seconds of entering a prospect’s office. I state my objective of the meeting, and I tell him or her what I would like to do. I tell them my three strategies of business:

1. I’m here to help
2. I seek to establish a long-term relationship
3. I’m going to have fun

Stating your objective and philosophy at the outset puts the prospect at ease. It gets the meeting off to a great start. It establishes credibility and respect. And it clears the way for meaningful information exchange and rapport building.

Tell the prospect what you want when you walk in the door. Then, ask for the sale as soon as you hear the first buying signal.

Close Every Customer By Asking This Powerful Question

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Close Every Customer By Asking This Powerful Question.

Steli absolutely nails it in this article. I’ve been using this technique for years and it absolutely works.

Close Every Customer By Asking This Powerful Question

I was out training one of our new people the other day and described it as the “time-travel” close.

When the prospect asks you after a successful meeting to send them some information, I always ask the following two questions:

1) “Absolutely, Sean – what kind of information would you need to help you (and your team, if applicable) come to a decision?”

and most importantly:

2) “Sean – let’s say that I sent you all that, you reviewed it and loved it – what would happen next?”

That second part is critical – and I’ve seen very few salespeople use it effectively. You can literally cut multiple steps out of your follow-up process by using this simple technique.

Click the source link to Steli’s article and see his take on this tactic. What do you think? Can you figure out a way to use this in your business?