My wife and I visited Eureka Springs, Arkansas a few years ago and I saw a tremendous example of an organization that understood the value of knowing, and serving, its target market. I made a point of jotting down what was posted on the glass door of one of the restaurants in Eureka Springs. It read:
We pride ourselves in delivering a quality dining experience consisting of a meal that in many cases is prepared from scratch. This means it may take slightly longer for you to receive your meal but rest assured, the wait will be worth it when you taste your food. We also make a point of not rushing your dining experience. As such, there may at times be a slight wait to be seated. If any of these conditions concern you, we will be happy to provide you with a list of chain restaurants within walking distance.
At first you may say, “Wait a minute… That’s in direct violation of the marketing concept! How can they do that? How can they stay in business? Everybody knows the customer is always right!”
But get this: There was a line of people waiting to get into this place! They targeted customers (like me) who don’t want a fast-food, standardized, franchise experience but instead want a unique dining experience. Ordinarily I HATE to stand in line and will do so only if directed by a higher authority (my wife!), but in this case I didn’t mind because it was part of my investment in a good meal. The funny thing was, NOBODY standing in line seemed to have a problem with waiting, either, because they were given a good reason for the wait. This restaurant understood how to target a market segment that was willing to wait for and pay a premium price for a quality dining experience. You may be saying to yourself that there’s no way you’d put up with that. Well, bully for you. That means you’re a target customer for someone else’s business and that’s fine with them and they were bold enough to say so. There was a line out the door, remember?
A successful person once said he didn’t know a true formula for success, but he sure knew one for failure, and that was trying to please everyone. In business, regardless of how big we are, we have a maximum capacity. Our goal should be to meet that maximum capacity through a laser-like focus on not just “the market,” but by targeting the exact, right customer for us. That way, we maximize our capacity, and our return on our marketing investment.
Indeed, the customer IS the answer every time, but let’s also remember that the customer is always right only if we target the RIGHT customer!