Staying Above the Fray, Part 3

Your one-and-only

It’s not you, it’s…

Well, yeah, it’s you.

I’ve been too nice for too long, because I was afraid of hurting your feelings. I like you, but…

You’re not my Ideal Customer.

If you want to stand alone as the Ideal Solution to Somebody, the big secret is that there’s a whole lot of nobodies you’re going to have to reject. A little overt exclusion is in order, so you can start talking directly to those people you want to feel included. It’s going to feel strange at first. You’re resisting the idea right now. I hear you on that.

We don’t want to dump our customers. Even the lousy ones. Even the ones who’ll waste all our time and hardly buy anything. Even the ones who are so disloyal they’re looking out our storefront window to see if the guy across the street’s having a sale. After all, a buck’s a buck, right?

You know I’m going to say wrong. Say it with me…


A dollar from a lousy customer is just that. A buck. May never see another from them, and they certainly have no need to tell anyone else to give you one. It might not even feel like a buck, if the hours and angst you have to put into making and keeping the sale eat all your profits—your time and stress are money!

So how does your Ideal Customer help you stay above the fray?

Your Ideal Customer knows you’re unique. Because you don’t have “everything for anybody,” you can talk straight to her, in her language, about what you do have, and she’ll be back just as soon as she can find an excuse. When she met you she was merely curious, but you’ve drawn her in. Now she’ll rave about you to her friends because she understands you clearly and knows exactly who else you can help. Heck, she feels a part of your success. She likes you, so obviously she wants you to succeed—your success is almost affirming to her ego!

Your incredibly focused innovations amaze your Ideal Customer. He needs this… this thing… and there you are. Danged if you don’t have the very thing he needs. How’d you do that? He doesn’t care how, because his problem is solved, and you did it. He can hardly wait to be the hero, solving other people’s problems by sending them to you to get their thing.

With your Ideal Customer, a buck is not a buck. It’s two, or three, or twenty, in repeat and referral business. Keep talking to them, and only them. Dump the rest, and regain your focus.

Sorry, we don’t seem to have that much in common. I tried, I really did. I just think you’d be happier someplace else.

And, well… I’ve found somebody who “gets” me. Someone whose needs I love fulfilling. It’s energizing, and it’s making me more money. It’s what being in business is supposed to be.

Good luck finding somebody cheaper, needier, more patient, and whatever else you want.

I’ve gotta go now.

Staying above the fray requires Vision, planning, and guts. The guts to focus on the Ideal Customer when it’s so tempting to be pulled in other directions. The guts to refer work elsewhere that’s wrong for you, or say no to brand “extensions” that muddy the waters. The guts to let the competition sway and bend, maybe picking up stray business that looks tempting, knowing that all that bending ultimately leads to a breakdown of Purpose that confuses customers and can take years to recover from.

One telltale sign that you’re doing it right may be that you’re ticking someone off. There are as many people who are appalled at Abercrombie & Fitch as are attracted to them for their advertising; as many folks who want to punch someone at Apple as who want to stand in line for their next gadget; as many folks who run screaming from the golf game when a Viagra commercial comes on, as who quietly dial up their doctor the morning after the U.S. Open.

Can you name a company that’s doing fine, even though they’re not that into you?

Never mind the competition, here comes Maximum Customer Experience! If you’re ready to ditch the time-wasters, the bargain-hunters, and the stress-creators who’re never going to be your loyal fans, how can you key in to serving only your Ideal Customer?


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson


P.S. If you enjoyed the Above the Fray series, I hope you’ll subscribe by email or by RSS to receive more free tips on creating Maximum Customer Experience, marketing, and growing your small business, and link to today’s post, Stumble it, or otherwise bookmark using the “Share” button below. Thanks, as always!