Freeze Frame

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the freezer in our basement.

It did everything we asked of it, which was to just sit there quietly and keep things frozen.

But, it was a top-loaded box and after five years reaching down into it whenever we needed something, my wife Linda and I decided to replace it with an upright freezer – something with shelves and a door in front.

The day after it arrived, I listed the old freezer on Craigslist for $65, about half of what it goes for new.

The response? Nothing. For an entire month, not even the scammers got in touch.

So, after weeks of silence, I figured I might as well try Facebook Marketplace: I had 15 responses in 24 hours and sold it the next day.

Keep in mind, it was the exact same ad and the exact same photos.

But, as I have since been informed by my adult children: Nobody uses Craigslist anymore; it’s all Facebook Marketplace.

When “not enough clients” is the problem, most small professional service firms and independents approach things in a predictable order:

First, they change the marketing. Find new words to describe what you do, how you do it, and why you’re qualified.

If that doesn’t work, they look at the offering. Improve it, repackage it, fool with the price.

Finally, if they are still getting nowhere, maybe, maybe they start thinking about audience – are they speaking to the wrong people and/or in the wrong setting?

I say “maybe, maybe,” because a lot of professionals never get this far. They just keep hacking away at the first two things.

And while those can certainly make a difference, as my freezer-selling experience demonstrated, sometimes, neither the words you use nor the offering itself are where the problem lives.

I never work with a client, whether launching a newsletter or helping with their marketing in general, without spending a lot of time talking about “audience.” Whose attention are you trying to capture?

Between you and me, clients don’t usually like this part. It can feel a little tedious and even beside the point.

Some dismiss the question outright – “Our content/services could be useful to anyone.”

Others, while they may be open to the idea there is a benefit to pinpointing who’s on the receiving end, they have clearly never given it much thought.

The thing is, you are going to have a difficult time connecting – deeply, consistently, and profitably – if you’re not willing to narrow your audience beyond “adult humans.”

When it comes to your marketing, going after everyone is the same as going after no one.

Decide who your “most perfect” prospects are and then…

My clients and prospects are middle-aged or more. You know, the demographic that knows their total cholesterol number off the top of their head.

And they are professional service providers – financial planners, recruiters, coaches, management consultants, etc. They sell insight and perspective, so they are always looking to keep learning and stay up to speed.

That’s why email newsletters work so well with this population. They are in the habit of using email and predisposed to reading things that are longer than can comfortably fit in a text message.

Neither of these things are true, for example, of my 25-year-old son Jonathan. Him, I have to send a text just to get him to check his email.

Trying to reach Jonathan and his peers with an email newsletter – regardless of how well I describe my offering, improve its quality, or tweak the price – would be the marketing equivalent of trying to sell a freezer on Craigslist.

Narrowing your audience helps determine which tools to use and places to frequent in trying to talk to them.

There are a lot of moving parts in marketing. Few of them are complicated, but they need to fit together as a single, logical machine.

So yes, work on your messaging and work on the quality of what you have to offer.

Just keep in mind that location and audience matter too. Spend time deciding who you are talking to and understanding where those people hang out.

It’s either that or get used to having an extra freezer sitting in your garage for a long time.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the most recent item you sold to someone else?
  2. What is your total cholesterol number?
  3. Who is your ideal target prospect?

Share your answers below…

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12 thoughts on “Freeze Frame

  1. Margaret

    1.The last thing I sold was a $500 necklace that I made, right off my neck.
    2. I have no idea what my cholesterol is good or bad.
    3. My ideal target prospect is female between 25 and 65 and men over 50. I know this because I constantly get comments about my jewelry when I wear it out from people in these demographics and I have sold pieces to people on the strength of them seeing me wear it. I did personally know the women who bought the pieces from me.

  2. Keanisha Mona Johnson

    I’ve sold some of my low content books that I’ve created from book bolt. Knowing your audience is super important, i finally get that now.

    I don’t know my cholesterol numbers, need to get that checked as a Matt of fact

    My ideal target prospect would be senior centers, small geriatric business but the readers are seniors, am I saying that right?

      1. Keanisha johnson

        I created low content books through book bolt. I made a bill planner, monthly planner for women and a prayer book. They are considered low content books , at least that’s what I was told

        Which bill will I pay today?

  3. Albert Kaufman

    most recent item you sold to someone else? : I mostly gift things to people. I played a member care center for $100 recently, but am still waiting for payment. maybe they forgot….?

    cholesterol number? : too high

    ideal target prospect? : small biz or non profit wanting to start email marketing. 25 year Olds welcome 🙂

  4. Susan Dyson

    1. An old drip coffee pot for $10. The buyer broke theirs that morning and hadn’t had coffee yet. So bold. I wouldn’t have left the house except for the drive-thru.
    2. Don’t know, only that it’s good
    3. Women rebuilding their lives.

  5. Uros

    Dr Katz,

    God analogy is by far the most creative explanation about know-your-audience concept.
    Hats off!!!
    The last thing I sold was a no-name bass guitar for which I invented entire history: who played it on what gig etc. No biggie as I mentioned only long-gone local indie bands but it sure gave the instrument some identity, Guy who bought it didnt plan to play anyway


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