Tell me your target audience


One of the things I like to probe business owners about starts with the following statement, “Tell me your target audience and I’ll tell you about your business” because it generates some interesting replies.

In the majority of cases the reply goes something like this “Well, we work with accountants, lawyers, builders, schools, mechanics etc, etc”. It largely boils down to the fact that they will work with anyone who might pay them. In short there are simply too many targets, which means, there is no target. It means they are spraying their precious resources in multiple directions, typically in a hap-hazard way with poor results.

These style of responses indicate that the business in question lacks focus. You would think that the first thing that any business should get straight is who their target customers are. Don’t believe me? Next time you see a tradie van on the streets, take a look at what it actually says. Ones I have seen recently include “Commercial and domestic cleaners” and “Cleaners and exterminators”. If you have a think about both of these, they are pretty divergent in their target markets aren’t they? How can a business honestly say that they can do both of these tasks well? They are saying that they are both the same aren’t they which I sure the customers of either demographic would strongly disagree with. How can they say that they have invested in ensuring that they do those tasks better than anyone else on the market? They haven’t. They are broadening their aim in the hope of hitting revenue. Hope is not a strategy.

As the saying goes, “if you plan to be everything to everyone, then you are nothing to no one”. In short, you are a commodity and a commodity is not something a smaller business wants to be. Being divergent with your target market is something your customers soon being to learn about your business. They learn that you are not focused on their needs, you have divided attention, little real desire to go deep with the business needs. You largely see them as a source of revenue and the desire to maintain only a shallow relationship with That then gets returned in kind as customers screw their suppliers for every dollar they can and look to take every advantage of whatever is on offer. Soon the whole relationship becomes about ‘what’s in it for me’ from both sides.

A target should be exactly that, something you aim for. It should be something you can show easily. The target is never the outer ring of a dart board now is it? The bit most people are trying to hit on the dart board is the really small bit in the center! A defined target allows you to judge how close you are to your goal. Of course, you have to define your own unique bull’s eye first. So, if your target market is accountants and you come across an opportunity that involves lawyers, you now have an idea how far away from your target that is. Just because it isn’t your precise target doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the opportunity. However, having a target allows you to more easily evaluate how much additional work and effort maybe required and the diversion from your current focus it will demand. This allows you to make much more informed and pragmatic business decisions about that opportunity. Will it really generate the profit to justify its distance from the bull’s eye? Unfortunately, most don’t have a defined target and make decisions based purely on perceived revenue, which generally never turns out to be.

We have all experienced companies that are very focused on their customers and others that aren’t. This fact is most evident to me in restaurants. Some have very attentive and helpful wait staff that return regularly to see if there is anything further they can do. Others have staff that is next to impossible to get attention from, have their backs turned to you so they can’t see you and so on. I return to the places that provide me good service and are attentive to my needs and tell others NOT to go to other places AS WELL AS never returning there! Double whammy!

You can’t provide good customer service without knowing your customer intimately. This means a focus on understanding what their needs are so they can be serviced. Yes, this requires and investment of time. Yes, this requires an ongoing discipline to remain focused. It is far easier to maintain focus with a system. The system doesn’t have to be complicated. Define a target and then measure the opportunities from this target. Make decisions based on that not random acceptance of what you come across. That rarely results in business synergy.

Start your discovery of the importance of having a very focused target market by asking your peers or other businesses who they consider their target markets to be. Listen closely and you’ll soon discover what their business is really likely to be based on who they focus on. The broader the focus the less effort has been invested in finding the right customers. Then, take that learnings into your own business and don’t make the same mistake that most businesses make in believing that revenue is the same as profit. It ain’t!

A Microsoft Partner benefits request


One of the great things about being a Microsoft Partner is that you can get access to NFR (Not For Resale) software. This is great for testing and evaluation. Typically with the Microsoft Cloud services, partners get access to Office 365 E3 and around $100 of Azure credits each month.

These benefits have been in place for a long time and I would like to suggest some consideration for change. Why? Well, many partners are now selling a variety of different licenses, including Microsoft 365 which contains a variety of different service offerings. Many of these are now very different from the standard Office 365 that partners currently receive as NFR.

Just having access to a ‘generic’ Office 365 E3 can make it challenging when it comes to fully understanding what functionality different licenses may or may not contain. For example, to really evaluate what an F (Firstline) license does you really need to play with it and see it in action, especially if you are potentially recommending these to customers.

With so many different licenses now available it is not possible to give one of each to partners. However, I suggest that a workable solution maybe to provided partners with an amount of licensing ‘credits’ that they can use to provision what they. For example, maybe an Office 365 E5 license is 75 points and a Microsoft 365 Business is 25 points. Those two combined then up to the allocated 100 points. Or perhaps 2 x Microsoft 365 Business Licenses (50 points in total) + 2 x Microsoft 365 Firstline licenses (say 30 points in total) and then 1 x Azure AD Premium P1 at 20 points. Again, all of these add up to the requisite 100 points of an allocation.

Adopting this method would also allow partners to mix and match as required. Thus, if they already had 100 points of licenses allocated, they would need to drop one so they could test something like the Firstline SKUs. Then when they are finished they could cancel those Firstline SKUs and go back to what they had originally.

Thus, as long as the allocated license ‘value’ does not exceed 100 ,partners are free to pick and choose whatever they wish within those limitations. For partners who have higher competency levels, then that base 100 point level could be raised.

Focusing on Azure credits now, I don’t believe the current $100 is enough given things like Azure AD Domain services alone for a month exceed this value. If you are looking to build and evaluate something like the new Windows Virtual Desktop Services in Azure, $100 simply isn’t going to allow you to really do that all. I would suggest that a more suitable figure these days would be around the $300 – $500 mark. I’m also sure that perhaps if partners were to become certified in Azure then they could be recognized with additional credits?

Hopefully, this request reaches the ears of someone at Microsoft in the Partner ecosystem as I think that it has been quite a while since partner benefits have been examined. I would like to think Microsoft is looking at better ways to enable their partners to sell a greater variety of the software that is now available. If you are a Microsoft Partner and you like my suggestion, please share it and let others know that we want to sell more Microsoft solution but we new approach to the benefits we are entitled too I believe.