This post is my first in two weeks; one reason for the break was a short vacation to the Lake of the Ozarks area in Missouri. We go there every other June to attend a family reunion on my wife’s side of the family. Going to the family reunion is a tradition that we look forward to every two years. And, we have traditions within the tradition of the reunion- a stop at Lambert’s Cafe in Sikeston, Missouri, to catch some “throwed” rolls, the washers tournament, and trivia contest. Another tradition that has developed over the past three reunions is taking my youngest son fishing. I have never been a fisherman, but fortunately one of our relatives who fishes exposed Ethan to fishing and taught him some basics. Now, we are a two-man fishing team- Ethan catches them and I help get them off the hook.
Fish Where the Fish Are
We have fished the lake at the resort where we hold the reunion enough times to have a feel for where we can find fish. The boat dock in the photo is one such spot. In fact, Ethan refers to it as “the Easy Spot.” A gaze into the water in this area usually finds many fish swimming around, eager to be the next customer on Ethan’s hook. He caught several fish each day in the Easy Spot. It was so easy that Ethan spent less time fishing in other areas as he had done in the past. He knew the Easy Spot would yield catches. While it did, perhaps he missed out on chances to catch different, bigger fish had he tried fishing other areas of the lake.
Fish in Different Spots
The marketer in me could not help but see parallels between Ethan’s choices on where to cast his line and how we decide which customers or segments to target. We certainly should be looking for the Easy Spot, those customers or audiences that we are confident will be interested in the products we offer. Application of the 80/20 rule to market segmentation suggests a large majority of our business will come from a small minority of buyers. Thus, we should find those buyers and drop our marketing line where it will reach them. In a recent blog post, Seth Godin points out that most companies do not have massive ad budgets that they can use to cast a wide net and bombard audiences with brand messages. Instead, Godin advocates targeting a more concentrated audience and building a community with which you can connect and interact.
At same time, a singular focus on marketing to a core audience (aka your Easy Spot) could be problematic. If you are a B2B company and you lose your largest customer that by itself accounts for 18% of revenues, how would you fill that void tomorrow? Even if you do not have to deal with the loss of a major client, balancing customer retention with customer acquisition is a must. Be willing to cast a line in areas besides the Easy Spot. It may take longer to get results, or you may not get any results at all. But, you and I know what the result will be if you do not try casting (targeting) in other areas- nothing ventured, nothing gained.