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HP scrollDid you ever wake up from a dream that you didn’t want to end, and you spend the rest of the night trying to remember and finish the dream? Or, did you ever want something so badly but it was just out of reach, and it consumed your thoughts, night and day? If so, you know what it’s like to chase a dream. It’s frustrating and unfulfilling, to say the least, or maybe even maddening. Many of us are chasing a dream every day and don’t even realize it. Let me explain.

Every person on the planet falls into one of three categories. The first category is for those who want to do business with us. This includes those who currently are doing business with us and those who have done business with us in the past. We clearly know who our current and past customers are. However, we may or may not know who makes up the rest of this category. In the world of professional selling, these people are called “fully-qualified prospects.” It’s good to know who they are.

The second category is for those who may or may not want to do business with us. These people have the potential to do business with us but they’re not yet fully qualified. They may not even know who we are. But they clearly are not in the first category or the last category.

The third and final category is for those who do not want to do business with us. These people may live outside of our service area or they may not have a need to do business with us.

Here’s where I’m going with this. Sometimes we market to those in the third category. When we do, we’re chasing a dream. We need to stop doing this immediately. Are you marketing to “the masses” which includes the third category?

Regarding the second category, we should market to this group but only selectively. It’s common for businesses to market heavily to this category while almost ignoring the first category. This is a big mistake in my opinion.

The first category should receive the lion’s share of your marketing budget. This is where account management, customer service, referral marketing, customer events and many other marketing initiatives that are focused on current customers, previous customers and “hot prospects” come into play. This is where the marketing ROI will be sky-high.

Take a look at your marketing spending. How much is devoted to each category? If more than 50 percent is not devoted to category one, or if any amount is devoted to category three, you may want to make some adjustments. After all, there is no point in chasing a dream.

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About the Author:

Phil Harwood is a Senior Advisor with Tamarisk Business Advisors. Contact him at

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