Smart businesses know that success isn't about reaching everyone; it's about reaching the right people.
The Right People
Good-to-great customers are the type of customers who have a pressing need for what you do, can easily afford you, and are happy to pay for results. Where good customers become great is subjective, but often, it comes down to their potential for organic growth. A good customer might love what you do but only buy from you once. A great customer might be someone with an ongoing need, with a high potential for repeat business and a potential to purchase additional products or services as time passes.
Pays-the-bills customers check the boxes, but their unique situation creates less demand than good-to-great customers. These might be customers who can afford some of your products and services but are not large enough to meet your ideal account goals. They can buy new tires at the service center, but they can't afford a new car off the lot. These customers still hold value because they help keep the lights on, can serve as phenomenal ambassadors for your reputation, and even generate referrals to bigger fish. Still, when it comes to where you place your marketing dollars, it's good to understand some of their characteristics to invest appropriately.
Unqualified leads are those who need what you do but can't afford your products or services. You don't have to talk exact numbers, but you owe it to your team's time to qualify or disqualify a lead based on their financial position as early as you can. If you don't, you'll run the risk of being strung along till you reach the one-yard line, only to find out they never had the budget to afford what you have to offer.
Toxic customers are those you should actively protect your business from. From rude clients who don't respect your team members and actively fuel burnout to those who never seem to pay on time, understand what toxic characteristics are the most disruptive to your business so you can steer clear. You might not find out till after you sign them as a new client, or they may be big fish accounts that are tempting to work with to cash in on their business, but customers who treat your people like trash will threaten the very thing that makes your business great. Invest in your people; the rest will follow.
Segmenting your audience like this is how you scale marketing teams of one and beyond.
As Todd Henry discusses in his book Herding Tigers, your people need two things from you more than anything: stability and challenge. A wide-open playing field is not helpful to the creative process. When you position your marketing strategy based on the customers who will grow your business while actively protecting it from the leads who threaten it, you will have the freedom of operating in a more predictable environment, allowing you to focus your time and energy on the activities that produce results, while protecting that same time and energy from real threats to your business.