I have a question for you today. And that question is: Why are you selling dog food to cat people? Now, I know you are probably not selling dog food, and you probably don’t sell to cat people. But chances are, your business may be doing just that. Let me explain.

Advertising Mindset

So I was talking with a prospect who was interested in learning more about social media. But really, what he was looking for was a replacement for advertising. He tells me, “I used to spend $3,500 a month on Yellow Page ads, and now I’ve got to spend $500 to do something online. I don’t get it.”

Okay. So the $3,500 made sense, but the online spending of $500 doesn’t. The Yellow Pages was something that was around for a long, long time, and it made something happen. It made the phone ring. So when your phone rang, it gave you feedback. It said, “Hey, this is working. This is worth the time and investment. I can see ROI.”

But digitally, it’s a lot harder. It’s harder because you don’t hear clicks. You don’t see visits. You don’t get reports on engagement, unless you go look for it. And that’s one of the biggest problems: what are they looking for? What are you looking for? What are you spending your money on? And what are you getting in return for that investment?

Follow The Money?

Now, he kept saying that he wanted to work with consumers, but there was a lot more money in corporate. The reason he wanted the consumers is because it’s an easy sale. It’s something that immediately happens, where the other one is a longterm game. It takes time to build up corporate clients. Selling dog food to cat people basically is this: If you say that somebody has a pet, which means they’re into pets because they have a cat, maybe eventually they’ll get a dog.

Let’s say I go into Constant Contact and I create an email. I say, “Okay, here’s some information about cats. And here’s some information about dogs. And here’s some information about hamsters, and maybe bunnies and rabbits and birds, and whatever. You’re into pets, right?” Well, unfortunately, that’s the way a lot of people treat their marketing. “Everybody uses water, right? So as long as I talk about water, everybody’s got to drink it. Pets drink it. People drink it, everything. It runs down the middle of the street when it rains. Who deals with water but a plumber? Okay, a plumber. Everybody uses water right?”

The Riches Are In The Niches

Well, consumers have a different need. Do they need repairs? Do they need remodeling? Do they have other concerns? Maybe their water is hard, or something along that line. Businesses, yeah, they have the same things. They have water fountains, they have bathrooms. But maybe they use water in production, which is different. Maybe they need to prep a space for a lease. Maybe they’re moving in and they want to move the bathroom from one side to the other. It’s a different need. It’s a different audience.

Now, break it down even further. Some consumers have homes. Some don’t. Fight? So the ones that need repairs who have homes, they’re your clients. The ones who need repairs who live in apartments aren’t, because it’s the superintendent or the property manager that has to deal with that. So even though there’s a consumer involved, it’s a different audience. It’s a different message. And it’s a different value.

Same thing with businesses. Some businesses own their own buildings while others are renting. So are you talking to the business owner who owns the building and is maintaining it, or are you talking to the leasing company or the property management company? They have different needs and different concerns. Yeah, of course, they all want the cheapest price, but are they willing to sacrifice their livelihoods on it?

Communicating The Value Difference

There’s a big difference between a company that’s been established, that’s been around for a long time — that has experience, that has training, that has certificates — than something called “two chucks in a truck,” right? Two guys who just happened to lose their jobs put a sticker on the side and drive around looking for business.

The question is: Is your audience being fed the right information? Now, advertising is a mindset. And that mindset is, if you put out an ad, enough people will see it, sooner or later they will kind of pare it down and say, “This is important to me.” Now, in the old days, you could put an advertisement in the Yellow Pages or a newspaper, and people would self-categorize. They would say, “Okay, yeah, there’s an ad for women’s clothes and men’s clothes and homeowners and plumbing and whatever.” They would narrow down and find the ad that was appropriate to them. But we live in a short-attention-span world. And if you send somebody an email with cat food and dog food and rabbit food and bird food, they’re going to look at it and say, “I’m confused. I have a cat. Why am I getting all of this other stuff?”`

Countering The Advertising Mindset

That’s the difference between the advertising mindset, which is very transactional, and the relationship building mindset, which is something that takes time. If you’re sending out an email or any kind of marketing message on social media or anything, here are five steps that you need to take:

  1. First and foremost, pare down your audience. Know who you’re speaking to.
  2. Number two, customize your message. Make sure that message is geared towards them and their problem at this specific time.
  3. The next thing is to include only one message per email. You don’t want to make them choose, because they’ll get confused.
  4. Next, put one link in that email. And put it in up to three times. Again, too many choices leads to confusion.
  5. And then finally, be consistent. If you’re going to email an audience, do it every single week. The more consistent you are, the more people will appreciate it. And they’ll start to say, “I’m looking forward to that.”


Now, when I suggest this to customers, I get usually the same batch of objections.

  1. First, “I don’t have time to break out all of those emails and do all of that stuff.” But let me tell you, your audience doesn’t have time to do the work for you. So if you don’t do it for them, they won’t repay you with their attention, their clicks, and their business.
  2. The next thing is, “I need sales now.” Well, yeah, but the problem is: Is your message matched up with what your clients need now? And do they understand the value that you provide, that you’re not just two chucks in a truck?
  3. And then finally, “But if I don’t sell to every audience, I’m missing opportunities.” Well, you can sell to every audience, you just have to do it one at a time.

Final Thoughts

Let me break that down. The bottom line is, the riches are in niches. A niche has an itch, and they’re asking for your help to scratch it. The more you categorize your information, and deliver it to the right people at the right time, the better the response rate. So yeah, you may not get 1,000 people to respond, but what if you got 10 really interested people at one time? How would that change your business?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas or questions about showing the concepts presented. Have you had to overcome any of the presented concepts? What worked and what did not live up to expectations? Do you have any ideas or advice you could share?