How To Repel The Wrong Customers And Attract The Right Ones

5 min

As an automation-savvy marketer, you are focused on attracting attention, nurturing relationships, and then converting people into customers. (That’s vastly oversimplified, but basically accurate.). But it’s just as important to signal who is not a good fit for your business, right up front at the “attraction” stage. In other words, it’s just as important that we deter as well as attract.

This seems like odd advice, doesn’t it? You might be thinking: Hold up. We have an innovative, ground-breaking product, and we want everyone to like us! We want everyone to buy!

But here’s the thing: you actually do not want that.

You don’t want to attract all of the people. Instead, you want to attract the right people.

Why? Because it’s a waste of time and resources to nurture relationships with people who are a bad fit for your business. It makes your nurturing programs seem far less robust that they actually are. It’s also emotionally exhausting.

Here’s where good marketing comes in. Because through your marketing, you can signal what kind of clients or customers are a good match for your business.

Here are three ways to deter the wrong customers, and reel in the right ones.

GetResponse blog

Use a strong tone of voice

I’m a big fan of using a strong tone of voice as a brand differentiator.

What do I mean by tone of voice?

I mean your point of view as expressed through your automation content, the writing on your site and on your landing pages, and on any content you produce (like your social profile pages).

Your tone of voice should reflect who you are – but more importantly, it should signal to your customers what you are like to deal with. It lets them know how you do the work, in other words.

I like the way marketing agency Velocity Partners signals to its would-be clients that the firm is a bit edgy, nerdy and funny, and that it takes some risks in marketing.

Here’s how Velocity describes itself on one of its landing pages:

“Grab what you like from our content marketing resources. We’re not going to force you to fill out a form so that we can ‘nurture’ you until ripe. You’ll know when it’s time. Of course, if you do want to know when we publish new stuff, you may well want to sign up for our very occasional content marketing hairballs.”

Fun, yes?

You get a sense immediately that these people aren’t your typical business-to-business marketing agency. Instead, they are fresh and relaxed. They cough up “content marketing hairballs,” for crying out loud!

They aren’t afraid to break some rules, but they do so because they are in your corner.

Also, some of their blog headlines have profanities in them. Are you the kind of client who shies away from working with potty-mouthed people? That’s okay, Velocity seems to be saying. You probably aren’t a good client fit, so that’s why we  broadcast our quirkiness right up front.

Be pathologically honest

I feel a little odd using “honesty” as a bullet point. Because of course you (and your business) are honest.

But some businesses lean into the honesty part more than most by being unusually transparent in their marketing: They are pathologically honest.

When done right, telling the full truth can make you seem even more credible, because you aren’t afraid to shine a light on your weaknesses.

One of my favorite examples of a company who tells the unvarnished truth is Saddleback Bags, which sells leather luggage, briefcases, bags, wallets, belts and other accessories.  Their products are lovely and built to last, but they are also expensive: The company’s classic signature briefcase sells for between $579-669.

On its site, Saddleback details the craftsmanship that goes into its products; it tells the story of how each bag is made, and how it sources leather, and it tells the back story of the people who produce each one, and so on.

But interestingly, Saddleback is also confident enough to list the website addresses of 13 or so of its competitors, as if to say, “Too pricey for your blood? No problem. Check out these guys instead.”

What Saddleback actually says is this, in the voice of Saddleback CEO and founder Dave Munson:

“I don’t suspect our competitors would put a link on their websites to ours, but I don’t mind doing it. I want you to shop around. I’m so confident that you’ll find our classic look and over-engineered durability, at our price, so hard to resist that you’ll be back.”

Gutsy? Yes.

Smart? That, too.


Let’s talk about the elephant in the room

The idea here is to detail who will not be a successful client or customer. In fact, pass the microphone to that elephant to give voice to the thing that many might be thinking.

Giving voice to reasons why folks might not want to work with you isn’t unlike what Dave Munson and Saddleback does in naming its competitors. But the idea of passing the microphone to the elephant in the room goes one step further – because it flat-out details exactly who a company or organization does not want to work with.

We often do this at MarketingProfs in our nurturing programs, because we want to attract people to our education programs and events who will be the best fit for those programs.

We don’t want all marketers from all experience levels and all walks of life. Rather, we want a certain type of marketer who will be most successful in those programs.

There is no such thing as one size fits all, says Marcus Sheridan, who runs The Sales Lion, a marketing consultancy. So to that end, Marcus details who is a terrible fit for his agency by naming six things that the worst possible clients are looking to do. Things like “You are looking to outsource your marketing,” or “You are looking to outsource your social media accounts.”

He collects all of them in a single handy web page titled, “Who we are NOT a good fit for.”

Of course, doing so allows The Sales Lion to attract the ideal client, while discouraging those who would be a frustrating fit.

So, your turn

Think through how you might attract as well as deter the right customers for your business. Think how you might create programs around those ideals.

You might just find yourself spending less time spinning your wheels, and more time nurturing the customers who matter most.