Why “Everyone” Isn’t a Good Market

February 23rd, 2009 by | Print

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With both my blog and previous business experience, I’ve mentored solopreneurs and sales and marketing professionals who have gotten stuck on the “everyone” market. Sure the size and potential sound grand. And why wouldn’t you sell to everyone willing to pay your prices? Because there is a tremendous amount of diversity of demands in the “everyone” market.

 

There are four primary issues that you will need to deal with regarding this vague mass market.

 

  1. Cost of capturing customers
  2. Cost of delivering your products
  3. Cost of supporting customers post sale
  4. Time

 

Let’s work with the scenario that you decided to start your own solopreneur catering business.

 

First, you will need to decide what type of events you will service. Do you look for the customers that dine on hamburgers and hot dogs or buckwheat blinis with Scottish smoked salmon? There isn’t a cost effective way to put your pitch in front of both and you will be sending mixed message about who you are and what you have to offer. You could simply put out advertisements that say “caterer”, but how many calls do you think you will get versus those that are specific?

 

Second, you will need to purchase food, equipment, and a uniform. You can purchase the food once you land the event, so theoretically you could minimize your risk with this expenditure. However, a hot dog stand has different banners, uniforms and equipment needs from the chaffing dishes, plates, flatware and linens for an upscale event. Do you buy both so you can cover every type of event?

 

Third, chances are that you have talents and passions for a specific type of cuisine and particular types of events. Your experience will give you an advantage for understanding the nuances of demands associated with a certain class of catering. What if you accept an event that falls outside your area of expertise and your customer is unhappy with your performance? There is a cost associated with giving a refund. Or let’s say you decide you aren’t giving a refund. There are monetary ramifications by creating a party of antagonists that bad-mouth your business to the market.

 

Fourth, as a solopreneur your time becomes a resource that is as equally important to manage as your cash flow. Don’t take time away from providing an excellent experience with a target market by spinning your wheels providing an OK occurrence with the “everyone” market. Long term relationships with multiple purchases are rarely built on OK occurrences.

 

But times are slow you say, so what does it hurt to fill up your extra time with some quick deals? It doesn’t – as long as your monetary exposure with capturing, executing and supporting the deal are at a minimal. However, if you find that your core business is consistently shrinking in favor for these side deals, your time and money will be better spent altering your business to focus on a new market.

 

Multinational corporations have the ability to service mass markets (and look at how well they are doing it), solopreneurs do not. Making definitive choices about your customer focus is imperative to maximizing your chances for survival and success in both bull and bear markets.

 

All The Best,

Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide

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6 Responses to “Why “Everyone” Isn’t a Good Market”

  1. Michelle Says:

    This is great. I am the classic offender of trying to please everyone. This has helped me to look at my demographics and target my specific markets.

    Thanks

  2. Cindy Petersiel Says:

    This is such a good point. Failure to narrow down to a tight target market is one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make.

    Another benefit, on the marketing side: When we narrow down to a tighter target market, we are able to really “speak” to that market and its needs. Those that are receiving the message feel heard and understood. And they respond to that.

    Thanks for a great reminder and a great post!

  3. Douglas Dolan Says:

    Cindy:

    You are absolutely correct. A “market” wants to know that you understand them and their needs. This needs to be clearly conveyed in your marketing in order to capture and retain them. Trying to be everything to everyone eliminates any uniqueness and advantage that you may have for servicing the market.

  4. Douglas Dolan Says:

    Michelle:

    I am glad that this post has helped. Find a common need within a target market. Understand who the people are that have that shared need. Learn to speak to that specific market. Not all business is good business. You can waste time and money trying to service everyone.

  5. Fake Money Blog » Sales stories carnival volume 10 Says:

    […] This is a new site for me. My quick assesment is that articles seem to have value for entrepreneurs. One thing that always strikes as funny to me is the need for websites to make up words. In this case it seems to be solopreneur, which is used more than enough. I suppose it might be all that owning yourself that Seth Godin is writing about. Stop making elaborate words. In a matter of a fact, I’ll start a website that is dedicated to make up words. Anyway the tip has something to do with picking the right customers. […]

  6. Douglas Dolan Says:

    Jake:

    I can’t take credit for condensing solo-entrepreneur into solopreneur, but I, obviously more than you, like the word. When researching my target market, I found this word had been in circulation in major magazines, news papers and business writers’ blogs. I felt that the term rightful encompassed the market that I was passionate about serving.

    I find it fitting that you would add the comment to this specific post. I have seen evidence that far too many up and coming solopreneurs try the diluted approach of grabbing anyone that will pay them for their service instead of having a stronger impact with a narrower market focus. Those that throw the wider net often chase the dollars and end up very confused about their identity – which in turn leaves potential customers confused and concerned about their value and effectiveness. Solopreneurs are my market, hence my use of the word.

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