Chapter 6: Widening the Appeal of Your Product or Service
One of the best ways to build demand for your products, services or business is to widen the appeal of your product or service. Doing so can result in a dramatic leap in revenue. I'm talking to 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 times your current revenue.
How to go about widening appeal?
Unfortunately, for every one marketer that understands how to go about widening appeal properly, nine other marketers either misunderstand the process and batch it up or they don't even believe in widening appeal all have never attempted. 10 marketers, therefore, suffer from self-inflicted demand limitation. You, on the other hand, can be the 1 out of 10 who really understands how to widen the appeal and does it from a position of confidence and strength.
Make no mistake about it, widening appeal is not as easy as it sounds. It's tricky but you and I together can traverse the minefield and come out way ahead. Let's Get Started!
Widening the appeal of a product or service is really a function of targeting and since even the simplest discussion of targeting can get confusing, were going to look at it in a way that makes it easy to discuss.
We will call it core targeting and fringe targeting.
For almost every type of product or service there exists a number of consumers who are heavy users. They buy it often, use it often, they are collectively called core consumers or simply the core and they're defined mainly by demographic measures.
For example, core beer drinkers are males between the ages of 18 and 44 or 21 and 44 if you want to defer to drinking age restrains in some nations.
Core buyers of tennis shoes are males and females between the ages of 16 and 28 who reside in middle-income or higher households and who play tennis often. Core buyers of plastic surgery are entertainers of one kind or another.
Core buyers of high-end photocopy machines are businesses with 30 or more employees.
When your product and its marketing are designed to reach and serve these core buyers, you are set to be targeting your core.
An example of core targeting would be when that tennis show marketer first designs their shoe for optimum play on a tennis court, then advertises it through media that reach tennis players. Sports magazines or tennis-related websites possibly.
The core for any particular product or service is almost always a thin segment of the overall population, a small slice of the pie but for almost every product or service there exists a much larger segment of the population that will also buy although perhaps not as often.
People who buy less often and in less quantity are called fringe consumers. Demographically speaking, the fringe falls outside of your tightly defined core. Fringe beer drinkers are males 45 to 60 and females 30 to 60 for instance. When you design your product and its marketing to appeal to customers beyond your core, you're set to be targeting your fringe. Core and fringe consumers together comprise 100% of the potential buying population for your product or service.
A great way to look at this is to picture a dartboard in the centre circle, the bullseye is your core or the entire rest of the board is your fringe.
Notice how much larger the fringe is than the core that's how your sales can explode when the fringe starts buying ever-increasing amounts. I'm sure you've heard the conventional wisdom, that niche marketing is the way to go. You identify a niche, develop a product or service to fill that niche and you are off and running.
Well, there are several problems with niche marketing, problems that will surely stunt your revenue growth.
But before I identify those problems and how to avoid them, let's acknowledge the positive side of niche marketing to get it out of the way. Niche marketing which is another way of saying you're targeting your core only can be advantageous when you're launching a new product service or business. It's considerably easier to make an initial market penetration with a thinly targeted product or service like piercing the skin with a thin sharp needle as opposed to a wider broader object. If you do a good job of super-serving that core, you gain supporters along with that comes a reputation and credibility. Niche marketing is also conducive to both sales and cash flow management.
Here is an illustration for that:
When Oreck's vacuum cleaners first began, they niche marketed to hotels. You know hotels buy and use a lot of vacuum cleaners, so that was Oreck's core. The beauty of such a niche is that Oreck didn't have to spend big to manufacture thousands of machines and then try to sell them, instead, they could make a bulk sale to a large hotel chain, secure good size deposit and then manufacture to order. There is nothing like manufacturing a product that's already sold.
As we can see, niche or core marketing has its advantages. But it also has three big disadvantages let's enumerate those.
First, if you remain a niche marketer without ever-expanding beyond your core, you may be for fitting lots of sales. In the 1950s Ampex corporation built the first videotape recorder.
What would be the core market for videotape recorders?
Television stations and their networks of course.
Those machines sold as fast as they could build them, so Ampex did well marketing to their core. But Ampex never took the videotape recorder beyond the core. Other companies saw the potential of selling videotape recorders to the fringe which in this case would be the average middle-class household.
Along came Sony, Panasonic, and a whole host of Japanese companies that created the VCR video cassette recorder in case you forgot about those things and targeted it to the fringe for revenues far beyond what the core could do.
Incidentally, the Japanese are great fringe marketers, they take a core product usually electronic in nature, and redesign it, and re-market it for fringe consumption, and WHAM! sales explosion.
The second problem with niche or core-only marketing is that you forfeit the opportunity to enlarge your core or there's an aha! for you. Your core is not a finite group, it can expand in size this happens when you convert light users into heavy users, you have to do some fringe marketing to do that though.
The third disadvantage to niche or core-only marketing is that your advertising expenditures can become highly inefficient.
Most people think it's the other way around that core marketing because it reaches the people most likely to buy is a more efficient use of the ad budget and that fringe marketing results in a bigger waste of marketing money. But here is what usually happens, after a certain time perhaps several years your core gets to the point where they're buying are there ever going to.
It is called this the core maximisation level and once you reach the core maximisation level, the marketing money you spend to increase core levels becomes highly inefficient. In other words, additional money is going out to reach the core but additional say sales are coming in from the core.
This is a factual reality that many marketers refused to acknowledge, they fail to realise that there is a practical limit to the amount of core market share they can prudently attain that there is a saturation point.
They failed to understand it cost a great deal more to boost sales from the core than it can cost to generate an equal increase in sales from their fringe.
Consequently, they end up spending thousands upon thousands or millions upon millions of dollars trying to suck every fractional point of market share out of their core.
Like wretchedly squeezing every last drop of juice out of a spent grapefruit. People can only wear so many coats, buy so many office computers or own so many vehicles regardless of how much advertising reaches them.
If your sales are stagnating, it may be that your core or niche is simply maxed out.
I've got news for you you're going to be forced to target your fringe anyway whether you like the idea or not.
Why? because of almighty growth.
As you know growth is the master we also serve in the business world. If your revenues are not growing year after year or quarter after quarter, if you're a public company, you're a dead company, or at least in some kind of trouble then all kinds of bad things happen.
Actually, I can make a case of stagnated growth revenue at times, during deep recessions you'd be one of the better-performing companies if your revenues just stayed level.
And even in booming times, maybe your just tired of the grind, you tired of worshipping almighty growth and you want to take some time to smell the roses and you decide to let your revenues to coast along or even drop for a while.
However, you are only afforded this luxury if you are a sole proprietorship or if you own 100% of the stock and have zero debt.
Otherwise, you have got partners, stockholders, or bankers that will lean on you heavily if your revenues aren't growing.
So how do you grow your revenue once you've reached the core maximisation level? You target the fringe of course.
Look at what's happened in the financial services industry, banks are targeting well beyond their core by offering investment brokerage services and traditional investment houses are offering money market accounts with cheque writing privileges.
So we have banks acting like brokerages and brokerages acting like banks. Why is this? they've reached their respective core maximisation levels and they have got to target their fringe to grow and 1 marketers fringe is another marketers core so they start overlapping.
When McDonald's began in the 1950s they had a very limited menu: hamburger, cheeseburger, soda pop, and a milkshake.
There was no indoor ceiling, no drive window, no breakfast menu.
I'm sure you've noticed McDonald's menu offerings these days all kinds of items appealing to just about everyone.
When Domino's Pizza began in the 1960s, they targeted their heavy user core only. This happened to be college students in dormitories and delivering the pizza was a radical and quite brilliant concept at the time. But eventually, that core became maxed, so Domino's began targeting their fringe which is families and households, well beyond college campuses.
I mentioned a company Oreck earlier after they reached their core maximisation level selling vacuum cleaners to hotels, they began targeting their fringe which is also families and households.
Politicians know that if they fail to target beyond their core group of supporters they will never win an election. It's the fringe voters, the people who have no strong opinion one way or the other that politicians must win to tip the balance of votes in their favour.
That by the way is why there so much negative advertising in political campaigns. Fringe voters don't vote for a candidate, they vote against the candidate.
So whichever candidate can be positioned as the worst, losses the fringe vote to the others.
The optimum strategy is for you to target your fringe, in addition to targeting your core not instead of your core. In each of the examples, I just mentioned the marketer continues to target their core as they expanded into the fringe range, it may be tempting to abandon your core once you realise that an overwhelming percentage of your revenue is coming in from the fringe.
Don't succumb to that temptation, marketers that abandon their core as they grow into the fringe area almost always suffer in the long run. We could go into all the reasons why but I'd like to keep this short as I have got more important things to illustrate.
Just trust me on this, don't abandon your core as you venture further into the fringe.
Let's look at three key core and fringe tendencies, these will help you target them effectively.
#1 An individual is a core consumer or a fringe consumer depending on the item. There's no such thing as a core buyer or fringe buyer all the time. A person may be either switch categories depending on the product or service in question. For instance, Meteor maybe a core buyer of swimming gear and a fringe buyer of Italian food. Dennis may be a core buyer of computer equipment and a fringe buyer of business suits.
#2 Core and fringe consumers behave differently. Let's look at each core buyer of a particular product or service, display a higher than average level of interest in that product or service. They want detailed information, they are curious about how It's made, where it comes from, or what is composed of. They like to talk about it, they may even join user groups or social networks settled around the product service or company. In short, core buyers are into it.
Fringe buyers of a particular product or service display a low level of interest in it. They don't want a lot of information just the bottom line benefit because fringe buyers don't want to spend much time thinking about it, they like speed and convenience the buying process itself has to be speedy and easy, and then the product or service needs to be easy to use. They really want the benefit or end result more than anything else.
With the exception of a possible passing mention, fringe buyers have much better things to talk about than the product or service in question.
#3 In most cases, it takes a lot more marketing and sales effort to make core sales than it does to make fringe sales.
Since core buyers, have a high level of interest in the product or service and they want a lot of information about it, you've got to supply all that information.
You may need to give the core a lot of attention or hand-holding to go along with it. Your fringe customers, on the other hand, will not have the time for a lot of information or attention.
A more streamlined to the point no fluff marketing effort may be all you need to make fringe sales.
Now, let's go through the implementation steps to widening your appeal.
The first four steps have to do with core targeting and they're pretty obvious.
#Step 1, when launching a new product service or business identify your core buyer.
Remember, these people will be heavy users and are most likely to buy often. Use demographic measures such as gender, age, income level, geographic location, industry, or any other relevant measure.
#Step 2, identify the wants and needs of your core, to find out whether your core prefers blue over green or wide over thin or fast versus slow or this versus that, simply observe them.
Stay close to the core customer and it will be really obvious what they prefer. And since core buyers like to talk about it, you are likely to get some really good feedback simply by talking to them.
No expensive research project is necessary, just good awareness.
#Step 3, Design your product or service to super-serve your core.
#Step 4, Design your marketing, this includes adverts, commercials, salesmanship to give the core the detailed information they require to make the purchase decision.
Let us assume you've done all these steps and had success.
But now, your core sales are starting to level off.
You are ready to widen your appeal by targeting the fringe.
#Step 5, Identify the wants and needs of your fringe.
Normally, this will be more difficult than identifying the wants and needs of your core.
The fringe you recall has a lower level of interest and won't spend the time and energy devouring detailed information about it nor will they be talking much about it.
So if you ask fringe folks some marketing research type questions they're likely to say: "I don't know". So how do you identify what fringe wants and needs?
Here's the secret, the fringe will want the same things your core wants with one big adjustment.
They want it's simpler, easier and more convenient.
#Step 6, you may have to simplify your product or service to fit the fringe.
If Ampex had wanted to do target their fringe, they couldn't just start advertising their professional tape machine to the public.
Those machines work too big too complicated and too expensive for fringe consumption. Sony, Panasonic, and others had to make the machines much smaller, simpler, and a whole lot cheaper to fit the fringe market. You may want to have two separate product lines, one for the core and one for the fringe. Apple has a line of professional computers and high-end professional software applications.
The core consumer of this line are graphics and video professionals. Separately, Apple offers several hardware and software products that are scaled-down, simpler versions targeted to the non-professional average consumer which is Apple's fringe.
#Step 7, Craft different adverts for your fringe.
In fact, your entire marketing program may be different for your fringe than what you're using for your core. For the fringe, emphasise that bottom-line benefits and convenience.
Also, mention the success or credibility you've earned from the core. Oreck tells the Fringe customer that their vacuum cleaner is the number one choice of hotels worldwide. Bowes & Wilkins points out to the fringe that they've been producing high-end speakers for professionals for decades.
#Step 8, more than likely you'll need to purchase more mass appeal media outlets to advertising to reach the fringe.
#Step 9, make it very easy to buy. A few strokes on the computer tablet or phone or to do it and a knowledgeable sales staff available by phone.
A convenient all-in-one package the consumer just grabs and sticks in the shopping cart. Whatever sales method you use, it may need to be set up for simplicity and speed. What if you're already doing all of this and you still want a widen your appeal. What's next?
If you're serving your core well and you're achieving good sales from your fringe, the next move is to cultivate a second core, the sequence is core first, then fringe, then secondary core.
Domino's Pizzas primary core college students in accommodation blocks, their fringe households, their secondary core businesses.
Apple's primary core is graphics and video professionals, there fringe consumers like you and I and their secondary core schools.
Now it's your turn to widen your appeal and springboard your sales.
In the next chapter, I will show you how to turn your customers into persuaders, so demand increases exponentially as your existing buyers recruit new buyers.