As a business consultant, one of the areas I work with my clients around is the idea of streamlining what they sell.
What this means is that periodically, perhaps twice a year, we review the six-month performance of everything they sell. In some cases, we review on a yearly basis, when offers are only available in one part of the year.
The reason we do this is so we can examine trends in sales, and look for patterns as to what is selling – and what is not.
For the most part, entrepreneurs are much happier to look at what is selling compared to what is not.
Yet what is not selling gives us a place to discuss the possibility of streamlining what is being sold.
One of the aspects of “selling more” is “selling more of less”- which means focusing more deeply on fewer items and putting the full marketing capabilities behind the fewest offers.
In my recent webinar on 7 Digital Marketing Trends for 2014, one of the trends I shared was that of better segmentation and targeting in our marketing messages, and how this will drive greater conversion.
Now, of course, proper targeting and segmenting have always driven conversion, but I think that what we will be seeing is a greater and greater push to smaller and smaller communities, tightly focused around smaller and smaller demographics or psychographics.
I liken this to when social media first began- at that time, it was amazing to be able to connect with people around a culinary preference, such as red bean ice cream. In a sense, until you met other people who also liked red bean ice cream, you didn’t know if there were a lot of you, or hardly any of you.
Once you found others like you, you maybe created Facebook pages, or groups, tweeted about your love of red bean ice cream, made videos about it, shared recipes- in short, all of the ‘usual’ activities of social networking and content sharing. It makes sense that making a targeted offer related to red bean ice cream would sell very well to a self-identified group of red bean ice cream fanatics.
What I believe is about to happen though, is that the segmentation is about to get smaller still. Now, instead of red bean ice cream lovers as a whole group, people will be splitting off into smaller and smaller groups across more defined characteristics. There will be “red bean ice cream lovers of New York” and those of the other states. There may be groups for people who love the ice cream and their significant others hate it. There may be groups for those who love the ice cream and also love basketball.
In a sense, the segmentation is going deeper and reorganizing.
What this means for us, as business owners, is that our offers need to keep up. The same service we offered last year may no longer be targeted enough or segmented enough to reach the right audience this year. We can find out, of course, by asking. Engaging in regular, relevant conversation with your community is the best way to stay informed of all the obvious, and subtle, changes within your target market.
For example, in my business, I have been looking at this very same thing. And what I found is that I have two distinct audiences within my potential client pool. I have one group that is very, very new to online marketing. I believe that they are interested in connecting with me because I make technical concepts easier to understand. The second audience is more established; they tend to be ones who would enjoy posts like this- about the conceptual elements of business and how to apply these practically.
If I didn’t realize this about my audiences, I’d be unclear about what to offer. With the group that is very new, they are not ready for high level consulting or profitability optimization. With the group that is more established, they are well beyond the basics of using Twitter or getting a website built.
The choice I have, as a business owner, is to decide which audience I will want to serve with the most focus. Sure, I can offer services or products for both, but this only makes sense if I am generating enough revenue from both to support both audiences ongoing.
Each of us needs to make decisions like this in our businesses all the time. We want to see what we are selling and make some intelligent guesses about what will continue to sell, and why it will continue to sell. We want to look at trends within our own businesses, as our businesses often contain all the data we need to make these kinds of decisions.
One of the key trends for 2014 is focused on deeper segmentation and tracking. Once you refine your audience to this level, you will naturally find that some of your products and services will sell very well, and some ought to be retired.
This kind of planned pruning back of your offers is much like why you prune a tree. You trim off the branches so the trunk stays strong.
And now that I’ve mixed all kinds of metaphors here in this one post, I’ll end by sharing that one of the key themes for 2014 is selling more of less. And the only way to do that is by deeply refining your audience targeting and segmentation.