Steve called from Minneapolis to ask how to attract new clients for his auto repair shop. He has been in business for two years and has four trained technicians to keep busy, but he was having difficulty attracting enough new customers.

Steve wasn't just waiting for people to show up at his shop. He regularly mailed letters to new homeowners in the area. His rationale was that people who had just moved into town would be looking for a mechanic before long.

Steve wanted to know why what seemed like a good strategy wasn’t working. Why was he only getting one or two inquires from each mailing to 500 prospects? He asked me if he was targeting the right people. "Anyone with a car is in my target market, right?"

Good question. In theory, yes, any car owner living in the area is a potential client. But in reality, car owners have very different attitudes towards car maintenance.

Steve was making the same mistake that most small business owners make in thinking about their target market. He was trying to market to everyone who might use his service instead of targeting the most likely prospects. After trying this for a year, he recognized that this marketing strategy was costly and inefficient.

According to Albert Einstein, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Are you getting the number of inquiries and sales you want from your target market? If you're not getting results then why keep marketing the same way over and over again?

The alternative to broad based, costly marketing is to target your prospects more precisely and shape your marketing accordingly.

There are three types of people in your target market.
First, there are people with immediate problems. These prospects have urgent concerns and want solutions today. In Steve's case, these are the customers who come in with a flat tire or a blown head gasket.

Second, there are people who have a problem or want to improve their situation and are considering a purchase.
They need more information in order to understand why they should use your product or service. They may take more time to reach a decision to buy.

Again in Steve's case, these are people who need their disc brake pads replaced before they fail and cause more costly damage, or who could be getting better mileage with a properly tuned engine, or who should purchase new tires soon to avoid a potential accident. These are the people who need to be educated in order to make a decision.

Finally, there are people like my dear Dad in every target market. It was a point of pride with Dad to see how little he could spend to maintain his cars. He never took a car to a mechanic unless the broken part could no longer be wired back together or the car just wouldn't start. People like Dad have blind spots in certain areas.

The same is true in any business. Some people won't spend money to fix or repair something even if it's barely functioning. No matter what you say or do they don’t want to be bothered. Their objective is to spend as little money as possible regardless of whether it costs them more in the long run or not. Know anyone like this?

Even if you have the perfect product or solution for these people, you're not going to get their business. They either know it all or don’t want to know. Marketing to this group is a waste of your time and money.

You'll get a much better response by targeting your prospects more precisely. That means marketing to what your prospects are looking for. You'll end up spending less and making more. Steve needed to focus his marketing on car owners who want to fix a problem or prevent one from developing.

In Steve's case a few changes to his marketing letter could make a huge difference. With a few questions he could help his prospects identify their concerns and then give them some helpful maintenance tips that involve his services.

You can do the same. With a few changes to your marketing strategy and your marketing copy you'll get a much better response and see your business soar.
2006 © In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

The author, Charlie Cook, helps service professionals, small business owners and marketing professionals attract more clients and be more successful. Sign up to receive the Free Marketing Strategy eBook, '7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business' at