Once you’ve found your good idea,* one essential business ingredient at any level is finding the customers with money to spend. But you need to know where to look and have a clear definition of your goals. And if you’re buying lists of prospects for direct sales, direct mail or online marketing, the following geographic locations, segmented by states, metro areas, counties, neighborhoods and individuals, are the most productive places to look.
*”The best way to come up with a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” -Linus Pauling
States to focus on, in order: California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, Minnesota, Washington, North Carolina, Oregon, Louisiana, Iowa, Missouri, Georgia.
Metro area focal points: NYC; Los Angeles; Chicago; Washington-Baltimore; Boston; San Francisco; Philadelphia; Dallas-Ft. Worth; Houston; Atlanta; Miami; Detroit; Phoenix; Seattle; Minneapolis-St. Paul; San Diego; Cleveland; St. Louis; Tampa; Pittsburgh; Sacramento; Charlotte.
Go Metro Because that’s where the money is, make metro areas your prime marketing linchpins. Metro areas account for more than 70% of most kinds of sales. In broader terms, concentrate sales efforts in metro corridors like Bos-Wash and San-San.
Zero In on the Wealthy Counties within those corridors. Note the following sample of East and West Coast, Rocky Mountain and Southern examples: Middlesex, Norfolk and Essex counties near Boston; Nassau, Westchester, Fairfield (CT), Hunterdon and Morris (NJ) near NYC; Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks near Philadelphia; Montgomery, Prince George’s and Howard (MD); Fairfax and Loudon (VA) near Washington; Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and Santa Clara near San Francisco; Douglas (CO); Forsyth (GA).
The U.S. has around 3,000 counties, and 60% of the national population resides in about 200. These prime potential customers are most often found within 25 miles of major cities. They tend to be concentrated in affluent suburban neighborhoods within select counties in metro areas of the wealthiest states. Whether you’re selling to businesses, or individuals through direct sales, direct mail, or the Internet go first to where the dispensable income is and save on cost of sales while generating greater profits.
Get Granular Next locate the nation’s most affluent neighborhoods, and there are many. Most are within the richest counties. Now we’re getting ever closer to where the money you can tap into resides. You can deliver right in the hood, drop brochures or catalogs door-to-door and use inserts in newspapers. These distribution options may generate more business than any other marketing exercise. The downside is gated homes and communities and high-rise, high-priced condos where you can’t get to the door, but the mailman, concierge, paperboy or Internet can. Now let’s get very micro and go to . . .
Connect To Moneyed Individuals This is the future and the critical marketing thrust going forward. The most accurate segmentation tools not only provide access to wealth through traditional and online means, including social media and mobile devices, they can also slice and dice data according to individuals’ preferred brands, income, ethnicity, political leanings, reading preferences, spare-time activities, gender, marital and health status-I could go on. Equally useful B2B data is also available.
Data companies like Experian can help your organization better understand and segment existing customers, boost the identification and capture of new customers and connect to individuals with money to spend.
“Only connect.” -E.M. Forster
Business Insights, Future Quality Intent, Discussion Topics: 70% of new business ventures fail within two years, often for the same reasons: (1) A great product or service is developed, but potential customers who need it are in short supply. (2) The potential market is too small to achieve profitability. (3) The product is saleable, but the market is wrong, e.g., sunglasses and sunscreen in chronically cloudy locales. (4) Profitability is sought at the expense of quality. (5) The market is saturated with less-expensive matching products.* (6) Customer service is low-quality. I could go on, but will leave this topic with a final reminder: Whatever you’re selling and despite the product-be it food, entertainment, technology, whatever-follow the money and market using proven data.
*Also known as Commodity Hell where too many businesses in a tight geographic area offer similar products and services, like one more pizza joint, or another Bridget O’Flynn’s pub on the block. Banks, for example, spread like Kudzu. And how do drugstores make a decent buck when there are two on the same block? If a new Walgreens opens in the Midwest, a CVS will soon open across the street and vice versa. And they’re now equipped like supermarkets setting up even more competition for low-margin products.
Whatever your business, be wary of a store appearing next door, especially one with lower prices. Similarly, shun locations where established competitors are located. How, you may ask, do all those men’s and women’s departments co-exist contiguously in big stores like Macy’s? I don’t have the answer, but I caution you to be careful with your geographic positioning.
The Best Value Propositions Include Uniqueness The winning business bets in the new economy will focus on quality, price and uniqueness. Singular products and services are increasingly critical. Apps for mobile devices are a good example of a limitless growth market. But before developing new apps, be very sure there are enough potential buyers. One online game cost $200 million to build. Now there’s a big bet that could have gone very wrong. Sort of like a Hollywood blockbuster that turned into a box-office bust.
Restaurant business and food sales in general are now and will continue to be a huge growth area. Given the fast-growing attention to individual marketing, satisfying personal culinary tastes when and where they want it is loaded with profit potential.
Winning the Race For the Last Mile Note the Amazon Fresh Food trucks out in some metropolitan areas. And many small companies are competing in the last mile to deliver organic food within 30 minutes. The value proposition here is a combination of speed, quality, diversity and price. The winners will deliver all four. Few people patiently wait for purchases. They want fresh food, a new piece of clothing, or a physical book on their doorstep now.
Stomachs are Like Hearts, They Go Where They are Loved Unique restaurants and other food establishments offering value will continue to proliferate. Found, a new restaurant in Northwestern University-based Evanston, IL, meets all the attractive criteria and more. It has achieved the ultimate home-away-from-home ambience, plus the food and service is consistently first-rate. Reminder: service is a product, and to insure top quality it must be managed with statistical care.
Students love bagels. A store selling high-quality bagels is located on a Manhattan upper west-side block near the Columbia University campus. A variety of bagels is about the only thing they sell, or need to sell, and my are they good and fresh. Like most successful spots the lines are long; but in this venue, thanks to prompt service, the wait is short and the made-to-order rewards are scrumptious.
As you go through life/
Whatever be your goal/
Keep your eye upon the bagel/
And not upon the hole
Fill ‘er Up You can’t say that much anymore. The gasoline business is mostly self-serve; then go inside and buy some snacks. Many women I’ve talked to don’t care to fill the tank. Gas is smelly, dangerous and apt to splash onto your slacks and shoes.
A Marathon gas station on Green Bay Road in Wilmette, Illinois has responded to an obvious need by staffing their property with a platoon of attendants. The lines of mostly women drivers are long, but the service is pleasant, fast and thorough. They clean your windshield, back window and more. A friend told me that her car got dive-bombed depositing an eruption of bird poop on the left side and roof. The attendants cleaned that off and wiped everything dry.
Plus, the prices are fair, and you even get the service with a smile and a piece of candy from a big bowl as the sale is wrapped up. The station also has three repair bays, and they are always busy thanks to a loyal clientele. Nothing is ever a problem. Why would you go anywhere else? Quality pays.
First Priority Indispensable attributes in the new economy are fresh, fast, unique and competitive pricing; but none of these are viable business assets if your product or service is not of high and stable quality. It’s rare to read a business book, article or listen to a talk and hear the word quality. But it should be the number one priority across all product and service organizations. Unfortunately, too few businesspeople know what quality is or how to achieve it. As often said, quality can’t be installed like a new air conditioner or refrigerator. It must be an endless way of business life that constantly improves systems and the processes within those systems. Beware: Entropy is increasing.
As a businessperson seeking or attempting to hold onto success, ignore the tireless pursuit of consistently high-quality products and services at your peril. For starters, go online and read about and adopt American quality legend W. Edwards Deming’s 14 Points of Management. As Dr. Deming often said, “There are no excuses.” Then begin using the seven quality tools, adopt PDCA, work on the chain reaction of quality and improve leadership, training and your organization’s constancy of purpose.
“The secret of success is constancy of purpose.” -Benjamin Disraeli