The Sweet Opportunity of Choosing Your Customer


I had an interesting comment from someone at an event recently. We were picking apart my Twitter stream and I was explaining my philosophy around it. He raised his hand and said, “Well, to be really honest, I wouldn’t be all that interested in seeing your pictures of bacon.” In this case, he meant quite literally the picture above, but in the larger sense, he was saying, “I want a business-focused person to follow.”

My response was that it was perfectly fair to feel that way, but that it also meant that he wasn’t likely my buyer. In my very specific case, I tend to work with companies that value personality as well as professional ability. It’s every bit as important to me that my kind of customer have an interesting personality, a quirkiness, and a tolerance for the atypical. That’s a choice, though, and it’s something I encourage you to consider.

We Choose Our Customers

Look, when we’re hungry for business, we just want to see the cash register ring. I’ve been there, and I’ll be there again. But when we do have the opportunity to consider our ideal client, it’s important to take a moment and work through that, to really determine what it is that will help you qualify who works with you or not.

In the case of media making and your online presence, what you put out there for the world to see on your social channels and your blog is what people are going to weigh into other equations when determining whether to buy from you. At the moment I’m writing this blog post, my last 20 tweets say nothing about what kind of business I’m in. My Facebook account is completely personal and not for business. My last few posts on Google+ are actually more business-focused, but that’s just happenstance. Why? Because I use social networks as a kind of liner notes for the personality behind the business.

Why Choose Your Customers?

Hold on there, Brogan. It’s a barely recovering economy and my kids have to eat. Why should I choose who my customers are? Why should I go out of my way to disqualify potential buyers?

Because customers that aren’t a fit create friction.

Simple. The deal you make when you take on a customer that doesn’t fit your personality or work style is that you’re asking for their money and signing up for however you will clash with them. This, in turn, may (will!) cause procrastination, may (will!) cause a less-than-stellar effort on your part, and will detract from the kinds of customers and clients you have more in common with. Those, by the way, are the people who will spend more with you over the long term, and who will form the core of your business relationships, not these folks you accept because you “need the money.”

Is This Crazy Talk?

I’ll let you tell me. Jump into the comments. Tell me about the times you’ve taken that customer who wasn’t really down with your particular kind of crazy. Hey, if you’ve had the opposite experience, that’s cool, too. I know someone out there wants to share some Kumbaya story about how working through one’s differences is a rewarding experience. My take? Life’s too short.

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