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How Many Customers do You Need?

Marama Carmichael

The Importance of Targeting

If you’re like many business owners, your first instinct is to get as many customers as possible. This is a sensible goal, as the more customers you have the more sales and money you make. The problem with this approach is that it leaves out one of the most essential principles of successful marketing: targeting. How many customers do you need? Before you answer this, it’s important to understand that you don’t want everyone as your customer.

Everyone Can’t be Your Customer

It’s nice to think that everyone in the world is a potential customer. This is not a realistic idea, though. Some products, such as soda, pizza, and running shoes have extremely broad appeal. Even companies such as Nike and Coca Cola, however, don’t count everyone as their customers. Health conscious people, for example, avoid products such as Coke and Pepsi while some athletically inclined consumers prefer Pumas to Nike.

Most businesses, meanwhile, have a much smaller potential market. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you know how to target your content and marketing to those most likely to appreciate it.

Do You Get Your Leads From a Phone Book?

Targeting essentially means focusing your efforts on the right audience. Consider the practice of lead generation. Businesses thrive on leads, which is why there’s a whole industry dedicated to helping people get good leads. The movie Glengarry Glen Ross is most famous for the “Always be Closing” speech by Alec Baldwin’s character, in which he tries to motivate and bully a group of downtrodden salesmen.

One of the memorable lines in this film was from a salesman who laments, “I just want leads that don’t come right out of a phone book.” What this character is really saying is “I want targeted leads.” Today, of course, hardly anyone uses phone books. The modern equivalent would be purchasing leads collected from random email addresses. Like a phone book, such leads are far too broad and untargeted.

Targeting Your Ads and Content

Facebook provides a good illustration of why targeting is essential. There are over one billion members on Facebook. There’s no business in the world, however, that appeals to all of these users. Even if you don’t use Facebook ads, it’s worthwhile to explore their advertising platform. You target people by age, gender, location, income, education, and interests. This is far more effective than wasting your money on ads seen by everybody on Facebook. The same is true when you advertise on other platforms, such as Google AdWords. On AdWords, you bid on keywords, which target people who are searching for certain words.

Targeting, of course, doesn’t only apply to paid advertising. It’s just as important to target your content for your website and social media pages. Choosing appropriate topics and keywords for blog posts and videos helps you reach the ideal audience for your content. No blog or website appeals to everyone. Some people want to lose weight; others love golf, dogs, gardening, bicycles, gaming, or thousands of other topics.

How Many Customers do You Really Want?

Is it possible to have too many customers? While this might seem like a nice problem to have, the fact is that you can waste time and money pursuing the wrong customers. This drains your marketing budget and produces campaigns with low conversions. Even when you succeed at selling to untargeted customers, the results are often counterproductive. These are the people who are likely to ask for refunds or, even worse, write negative reviews about you online. In fact, improper or lack of targeting is one of the main reasons for unhappy customers.

For example, suppose you’re selling a course teaching people how to start their own business. To target your audience for this course, it’s essential to mention several crucial points. Do people need certain skills to get started? Is there a substantial financial investment required (beyond the cost of the course itself)? If the course is too broadly targeted, it’s practically certain that you’ll end up with many dissatisfied customers. Targeting allows you to get more out of your marketing while excluding customers who aren’t a good fit. The best answer to the question, “How many customers do you need?” is “As many targeted ones as possible.”

If you want to learn how to get more targeted customers for your business, contact us.