Do you feel like your target audience could potentially include… well… anyone with a pulse?
Okay, okay… perhaps not quite anyone with a pulse! But let’s just say your audience is fairly… broad? Ubiquitous? All-encompassing? Does this sound familiar?
It’s very common for entrepreneurs to start with a really broad target audience. Because – of course – what you have to offer is amazing, and why wouldn’t everybody want it?
When I started Binefit, I felt the same way. I thought everyone with storage needs would come my way. I quickly realized, however, that while my service fit some people’s lifestyles seamlessly, there were others for whom what I had to offer wasn’t quite right for them.
But then I made a crucial mistake.
I poo-poo’d the customers who didn’t want me.
Yes, obviously, it’s important to focus on your core target market and service their needs. But those customers who fall outside of your target market are an asset, and they should be treated as such. Customers who would never buy from you are just as important as your core audience. So make sure you pay attention to those folks!Customers who would never buy from you are just as important as your target market. So make sure you pay attention to those folks!Click To Tweet
Check out these two case studies which feature popular brands who made the most out of customers who rejected them, and turned themselves into the companies that you know and love today.
Mini Case Study #1
I just finished reading the book Blue Ocean Strategy, and I love the way the authors use the fitness company Curves to illustrate this idea. Curves looked to women who were averse to going to the gym to help them make a name for themselves in the fitness industry. When Curves launched in the mid-1990s, the company identified that not only did some women feel uncomfortable working out in crowded gyms, but also that these traditional health clubs were often pricey, trendy, and located in the middle of large cities when many of these women lived in the suburbs. Feeling discouraged, some of these women would instead choose the privacy and convenience of home fitness training programs. These programs were less expensive, but also much easier to not do because no one is right there to hold you accountable.
Curves saw women who would ordinarily never be in their target market – women who didn’t like going to the gym because it was too expensive, time-consuming, and uncomfortable – and flipped the experience on its head. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Curves changed the mindset of every woman who would never go to the gym in the first place. No, definitely not. But Curves used insights from this audience to help enhance the gym experience and separate themselves from other health clubs. They provided a space that was exclusively for women, with equipment that was easy to use in a supportive, nonjudgmental atmosphere.
Mini Case Study #2
As I was considering other examples of this concept, the women’s fashion department at Target came to mind. Are you old enough to remember when Target was just a place where you bought paper towels and body wash? It was definitely – DEFINITELY – not a clothing destination unless you were just looking for simple staples like socks and underwear. But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Target was intensely competing with Walmart, Kmart, and even Amazon for market share. Target needed to find a way to differentiate itself from these other popular retailers in a memorable way.
Target took a look at the exact opposite of the typical big-box retailer customer. Instead, they examined an upscale, trendy, boutique and department store-shopping clientele. By mimicking the traits and characteristics of boutiques and department stores, Target created a “cheap chic” strategy that set them apart and reached a younger and more affluent clientele. Department stores and boutiques are filled with fashionable and on-trend clothing, a feeling of exclusivity (even though it’s mass-produced), and an ambiance that encourages leisurely strolling through the aisles, truly epitomizing the expression “not all who wander are lost.” Armed with this knowledge, Target collaborated with major brands and designers like Isaac Mizrahi and Massimo (‘memba them?) and began creating exclusive clothing just for Target shoppers. But, the best part for Target’s customers was that Target was delivering on an upscale, department store feel for a fraction of the cost! Target customers don’t have to spend a fortune to look fashionable. And women far and wide began to look forward to their weekly escapes and aisle-strolling at “Tar-zhay.”
Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.
– Helen Keller
As business owners, we’re constantly being advised to focus on the needs and wants of our target market. Obviously, this is sound advice for many reasons. However, customers who would never buy from us can teach us many valuable lessons about our brands.
Now don’t get me wrong. This is not about cheating on your current loyal customers and lusting after someone new. The goal isn’t always to convert non-customers into customers. You want to dig deeper into those non-customers’ objections and hesitations to see if you can make your core audience’s experience even better.
This is about differentiating your brand experience and setting yourself apart from your competition. So the next time you hear a “no” from a potential customer, ask yourself why people who are out of your target market would never consider your product or offering? You may find an answer that helps your business grow beyond your wildest dreams!
As always, I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever surveyed your “non-customers” to see if there are ways you can enhance your current customers’ experience? Can you think of any other brands that differentiate themselves in this way? Let me know in the comments section. And of course, if you know of someone for whom this information could be useful, I always appreciate your sharing. Remember, sharing is caring!
Cheers to the journey (because you’ve totally GOT this!)