Remember a time when you worked really hard for something? Maybe it was winning a competition, acing a test, or getting selected for the lead in your class play. You poured countless hours into preparing for victory.
For most businesses, the biggest challenge is finding the right customers. “Build it and they will come” is seldom effective. Neither is drawing company names from a hat hoping the one you select will miraculously be the perfect fit.
When I owned Raven Machine, I defined what the ideal customer for our type of production would be. Next, I focused on the top ten companies that fit the profile. I set myself the goal of bringing on the top three: Tennant, Dana, and Graco.
I made it my business to find out everything about the companies: their mission statement, annual sales, competitors, and especially the products they produced. I also ferreted out who the decision makers were.
Researching the companies was easy; researching the decision makers 20 years ago was difficult. There were few websites and no LinkedIn.
With a great deal of persistence, I was able to set up an appointment with each company. I told the decision makers I wanted their company on my customer list.
This was my list of questions:
-What were their challenges?
-Who was I up against?
-What did they do that was great?
-What did they do that wasn’t the best?
-What would it take to knock the bottom vendors off the list?
-Would it be possible to quote on parts that would fit our capabilities?
-What were their measures for success?
The decision makers were surprised; no one had ever asked such direct questions, let alone a woman machine shop owner. They said they’d “think about sending some quotes our way” and sent me on my way. They didn’t think they’d hear from me again. They were wrong.
I designed a marketing plan focused on the needs of each company. Every month the decision makers received a tidbit of information about their market, their competition, new processes my company had implemented, or their interests and hobbies.
At the end of 18 months, all three were on our customer list. It was a win, but the personal attention didn’t stop. Monthly notes of appreciation for the opportunity to do work for them, birthday cards, comics about their hobbies continued. Their office walls were peppered with notes and cartoons, all with our logo on them.
If you want something bad enough, you can find a way to achieve it. What do you want bad enough to make you think outside box to get it?
The road is easier together,