Guess who Ford Motor just quit selling to…

One of the very hardest things for a marketer of any kind to accept is that not everyone will buy their product, no matter how great they think it is. And even if someone else believes it’s fabulous too, that doesn’t mean they’ll buy.

I play tennis not golf. So no matter how stunning the new clubs are that Tiger himself uses, I won’t buy. I don’t do golf. So you’re better off to save your energy and find someone who DOES love golf. As obvious as this sounds, it’s almost impossible for marketers to do.

Ford Motor for example, just figured this out a few months ago. I posted on 1.23.06, the day they put out through the Wall Street Journal their five point plan to “restore profitability” to the company, and to “change their mindset.” Here’s #5:

“Quit trying to sell Fords to people who won’t buy them; focus instead on likely prospective customers.”

Think of all the advertising noise this will eliminate. No more screaming at the wrong ones. What if every marketer were to adopt this strategy?

Say you’re selling an insurance type of program. Who is a likely prospective customer? Here’s one group: those who buy extra warranties for things they get, from calculators to computers, to warranty insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance. Yes, I am one of those. This group also includes people who plan vacations ahead, have retirement plans in place. The planners. Or the sudden loss set, for example, who want to be ready next time.

Start describing the group by describing yourself. Why do you have the program? Ask your existing customers why they bought. They’re your customers, aren’t they? They comprise a community, if you will, and isn’t that who you want to go after?
Instead of doing therapy?

Say you sell nutritional supplements. Who is a likely customer? How about those who know nutrition matters and who know that they cannot get the nutrients they need from the food they eat, even if it’s all organic? These folks know they need to supplement. Like me. Or those who’ve had a close call or recent diagnosis and are responding to their wake-up call – they’re now ready to eat right and supplement.

Ask yourself why you take your supplements. Ask your steady customers (not just those who are selling). They’ll give you their why’s which will help describe your prospective customers.

It’s a start.

About the author

Kim Klaver

1 Comment

  • Hello Kim,

    I think this was a great post. I really liked when you quoted:

    “Quit trying to sell Fords to people who won’t buy them; focus instead on likely prospective customers.”

    I find it incredibly amazing how many people waste their efforts begging and pleading with someone who is not in their target market. A little focus and planning really does go a long way in the sales process.



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