Friday, March 06, 2009

Boiling the Ocean, Opening the Mailbag

I've received some positive feedback on this week’s Post Column on “boiling the ocean.”

“Boiling the ocean” refers to businesses taking on bigger markets than they can possibly handle. Silicon Valley cynics used it to describe starry-eyed companies that wanted to change the world but it can also usefully be applied to businesses that simply take on too much.

This column referred to an Oshawa-based entrepreneur who wanted to sell an innovative new service to homeowners throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Nothing wrong with that, except her service is complicated. It takes too long to describe and understand. And her marketing budget just isn't big enough to allow her to overcome that knowledge barrier over such a broad marketplace.

The secret, I suggested, is to select a reduced market segment that represents some of her best prospects – and is small enough for her limited marketing funds to have some impact.
You can read the full story here.

One reader emailed me today and said, “Great article, thanks. I have a prospective client that needs to hear this... and your expert advice will help me give them the message.”

Most writers work without ever getting much feedback, so it’s hard to know when you’ve produced something that really resonates. Thanks, G. Comments like these are very helpful.

I also heard from a longtime contact, a Montreal entrepreneur I've known since my PROFIT Magazine days. He offered some very useful advice beyond what I had written, so I’m glad I can offer it here.

“You are correct in abandoning the mass market for a smaller niche market, but there would be an even better approach for "Shirley". While she has had limited sales, I would suggest that she truly understand the profile of those customers that bought. Then, find more customers with the same profile. Let Shirley communicate with those who bought and ask, "Why did they buy?" This dialogue can generate a wealth of information that can be used to find more of the same type of customer. Inexpensive to garner this information, and enormously powerful to use. Then, prepare a mailing targeted to those same type of customers.”

Thanks for writing in, D. My very public education continues.

1 comment:

Gillian Brouse said...

Hi Rick - G here!

I normally read your posts in my RSS reader, and so I don't normally see the sidebar to your posts. Specifically, I did not realize you were on Twitter. (I am now following you).

Had I known, I would have linked to your twitter stream when I tweeted out a link to your article last week. You'll be happy to know it also resonated with some of my "followers" who in turn re-tweeted it. So there! :)