are you making this marketing blunder?

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal reported that McDonald’s is throwing away more salads than they’re selling. In fact, many of their healthier menu items don’t sell well at all. As a result, “last October McDonald’s posted its first drop in monthly same-store sales in nine years…” and although their shares have risen this quarter by 11%, Wendy’s shares have risen 90% in the same period.

So what’s gone wrong?

In short, people go to McDonald’s restaurants because they want value meals and french fries, not salads.

In an effort to broaden their customer base and reach more health conscious consumers they diluted their menu and moved away from their core-competency.

The moral of the story, don’t try and be all things to all people.

Many businesses, especially mature ones, make this mistake (Remember the JCPenny debacle).  In an effort to widen their customer base, they dilute the “why” of their business, and lose touch with their core customer.  They become another white shirt in a sea of white shirts.

It’s a Big World with a Small Town Mentality

According to Internet World Stats, more than 2 billion people are online, yet the world has actually gotten smaller.

Rather than having one-big community, users actually self-segregate  online and pool together in like-minded communities. It’s reminiscent of the way people used to congregate at the local diner.  They share ideas, what they like, and what they don’t like.

Be True to Your Customer, and Your Brand

You need very specific messaging and products that not only appeal to your core market, but that are consistently branded across all media platforms (includes packaging, voice of your blog, and social media presence, any advertising that you’re doing).

Your Market Is Not Everyone.

Many business owners are afraid to pick a niche market.  Usually it’s because they feel niche marketing isn’t profitable.  Nonsense!

The key for any savvy business owner is to create a tightly knit community around their brand. This is more efficient and profitable than casting a wide net on the wrong side of the ocean.

Your ideal customers have already niched themselves. By trying to have a wider appeal, you wind-up diluting your message, creating so-so products, or worse, products that will alienate your customer base.

How do you know if your messaging and product offering is too broad?

  1. You aren’t attracting the enough customers.
  2. You aren’t attracting the right kinds of customers.
  3. Traffic to your site and/or store front has slowed.

If this has happened to you, then it’s time to reassess your messaging and marketing strategy.  Look to what has worked for you in the past, and ask yourself if you’ve lost sight of who your customers are, and what their needs are.