Monthly Archives: December 2009



Have you concluded that you really should expand the definition of (what you call) “your market”?

Instead of diving in to try to reach millions of people you don’t know, try a technique called PEGGING to expand your reach based on your customers’ preferences.

  1. Identify the primary trait(s) your customers have in common.  To help you see how this works, let’s follow an example. Imagine that your customers are all Catholic.
  2. Look for secondary demographic traits of subgroups within your market.  Are some single mothers? Are some grandparents? Are some high school students?
  3. Choose one subgroup with 2 shared traits. (e.g. Catholic single moms). Survey. Listen. Observe.  What do they read? Which websites do they visit? Which blogs do they read? Who do they listen to? What do they buy? Where do they shop? Which associations do they join?
  4. Then obtain access to those websites, subscriptions to those magazines, membership in those associations, use of related lists, etc.
  5. Send outbound marketing messages through those websites, magazines, associations, stores, lists, etc. to reach out to a broader group of single moms beyond those you have had as customers in the past. Include a secondary message that would particularly appeal to the Catholics among them.  You’ll attract even more Catholic single moms and have expanded your marketing methodologies.
  6. Now select a second subgroup from within your existing market (customers) that differs from the first subgroup.  Catholic grandfathers perhaps.  Again, reach out to that subgroup of existing customers.  Don’t just sell them more products.  Learn who they listen to. Find out what they read. See which memberships they value. Observe which websites they visit.
  7. Now repeat the process. Do a marketing outreach through those websites, magazines, associations, lists, etc. (with a Catholic sub message) to sell products to a broader group of grandfathers, including those who are Catholic.  Make sure to choose a range of characteristics (age, career, geographic location, income level).
  8. For many companies, 3 or 4 subgroups capture the range of people within their customer base.  You will undoubtedly end up with dramatically different websites, blogs, stores, publications, associations, and list…AND that’s the idea.  After a few rounds of research and marketing outreach, you will have an expanded data base of prospects and some new effective marketing mediums.
  9. This technique can help community banks attract more small business customers away from the large impersonal financial institutions that precipitated the recession of 2008/2009.

Is Choosing Not to Learn an Option?

My father is now in his late 80s and has been fully retired for several years now, but he is physically active and mentally alert. He’s an avid fan of the Washington Redskins so the “mentally alert” part might be questionable (just kidding).

So one question is should he try to learn how to surf the Internet, send/receive email, have a texting function on his cell phone, and/or be part of Skype video phone calls?  Most of the time, he feels like the window of opportunity for him to learn how to use a computer “has passed him by, it’s too late for him to take all of that on, and it’s just not worth the effort.”  Is he right?  His grandchildren (and children) would LOVE to be able to interact with him more often without having to spend so much time and money traveling long distances to visit him.  He’s convinced that if people really want to be with him, they will recognize that, at this point in his life, everyone should come to him. I know some home based solo practitioners who sound like my father when it comes to social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn).

Your long term employees may feel the same way when asked to participate in strategic planning, help change the business model, relocate, or learn new skills. Even during a recession, there needs to be enough incentive (a really good reason) for people to face the unknown, learn new skills, and pick up speed. There’s a great deal of comfort involved with knowing what you are doing. Who likes to feel stupid or embarrassed?

When your business is engaged in a significant change, we all need to try to spell out the “what is in it for me? (WIIFM).” No news there, right? But then watch peoples’ reactions. If you think you have provided good opportunities and reward for folks to learn, grow, try, stretch….and some clearly choose to opt out…it’s time for career development discussions. No one has to be miserable. Leaving non- learners in place is a disincentive to the people who are stepping up.

Collateral Damage

As a year winds to an end, many of us become reflective.  How did we do this year? Did we accomplish enough?  Why didn’t we even start that project we have been talking about for months? How come we aren’t doing a little better by now?  We have great products.  We invested in technology. Our marketing campaigns seem creative.  The economy still isn’t strong, but customers in our sector are still buying. Why aren’t we getting more?  Are we having fun yet?

The past 18 months may have set your company back in more ways than just reduced access to capital.

Most businesses have symptoms of at least mild post traumatic stress disorder at this point.  Think about how people act and feel following a disaster like a hurricane or fire. How about when a family member has had a serious illness or an accident takes the life of a loved one. Post traumatic stress disorder impacts health, creativity, productivity, outlook, attitude …. everything.

Think for a minute about the behavior of your employees. Are they focused more on themselves than customers? Are they still worried about their job security, pay, and benefits?  Do your team members feel free to laugh or has everything become too serious for that? Are you hearing wild, ambitious, creative ideas or are folks playing it safe? When things go wrong, is the inclination to look for whom to blame?

You would know to reassure, build confidence, celebrate one another, and be helpful if a friend of yours just experienced a traumatic event like fire or illness. Do you need to bring a bit of that attitude to your company now?

When you are able to effectively help team members move past post traumatic stress disorder, don’t be surprised if more optimistic goals are considered when you do your strategic planning together.

Growth Strategy Tip


Aldonna was positive and upbeat to my negative outlook on my business and the economy. I called myself a "reluctant business owner" and she gently replied that most business owners out there were just that, "reluctant."

Caroline Shelly, LEED AP
HF Planners

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