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Clients and Grinders – 5 Minutes to Better Marketing

Dec 6, 2013

The last 5 Minutes to Better Marketing article, Evaluate, made reference to a business article that I read years ago, before I started my own business. I reference it regularly in conversations with other small business owners, and it has even come up a few times at the Microbusiness Meetup. The article is a 2006 post on Creative Cowwritten by one of the site’s co-founders, Ron Lindeboom. It deals specifically with the business side of things, but I think since marketing is the art of reaching and making customers out of the people referenced in the article, it’s an appropriate topic to be discussed in this publication. It may cause you to look at your Ideal Client through a new lens. Are you targeting grinders?

First things first: Here is a link the article – Clients and Grinders. Give it a quick read. It’s well worth it for any small business owner.

Here’s the short version – The client market is broken up into three sections. The top 15% are the ‘top-end clients.’ Those clients never haggle, are quick to pay, trust your expertise and recommend you to others. These are they clients that you want. The bottom 15% are ‘grinders.’ They will beat you up on price, demand more time and effort than other clients, and are never happy with the product delivered. They are the slowest to pay (if at all) and the most difficult to work with. These are clients to avoid. The remaining 70% of the market lie somewhere in the middle, the ‘typical client’. It is a good practice to work with the ‘typical client’ that more closely resembles ‘top-end’ than the ‘grinder’ when working in this segment.

So, who is your typical client? Top-end or grinder? How is your marketing message/plan impacting the answer to this question? If you have been marketing on price or offering products at deep discounts to get things started, you may have a full roster of grinders, and regardless of what they tell you, they will never become top-end clients. Reevaluate your marketing message to appeal to top-end clients and watch your business improve.

I have had my fair share of grinder clients throughout the time that I have been running Nickel City Graphics, and I have come to realize that ultimately, to run a successful business, you have to get rid of them. It is a scary prospect, to cast off a paying client in any small business, but it can be incredibly good for business. It will free up your time and increase your profitability. Be sure you are marketing to top-end clients and as you bring better clients on, cut ties with the grinders.

Takeaway – Market to your ideal, top-end clients – not grinders.

5 Minutes to Better Marketing is a twice-monthly series of direct email articles aimed at improving your marketing efforts and overall success of the small business community, specifically in the Buffalo, NY region. These articles are universal. They can help many small businesses. If you know of anyone that may benefit from communications like this one, please share this article.

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