Separating Unicorns from the Herd: Your Best Customers May Not Be Replicable

chasing unicorns

“Unicorns” is another name for your very best customers.

A unicorn might be your biggest customer that pays you a lot of money. They can also be customers that are a delight to work with. There’s chemistry between your companies, and your team loves to spend time working with them.

Unicorns are exquisite, profitable customers that you love to serve, but they are exceedingly rare.

Most businesses have a few clients like this. They are your “key accounts,” and you want more of them. But like unicorns, they’re next to impossible to replicate.

Sales and marketing teams can waste a lot of time chasing unicorns, but fail to gain traction. Unicorns are too rare, and you can’t reliably grow your business with these customers. The opportunity is in the herd.

Market to the Herd

You will find the largest growth markets with average, everyday customers. These accounts may not be as profitable or fun to work with as your unicorns, but you can find a lot more of them.

This is key. You grow your business and your brand by creating replicable systems and processes.

For example, Apple creates a small number of products for a large herd of customers. Millions of people buy iPhones every single year. Apple’s strategy is clearly focused on the herd.

Smart marketing engages the herd, because it has the most opportunity for finding repeatable, profitable customers that value your services.

Not All Customers Are Equal

The caveat, you have to separate the herd. Not all customers are good customers, and it takes just as much time to sell to a good customer as it does to sell to a bad one.

Marketing your brand in the herd requires stronger systems to separate the “good customers” from the poor ones.

An effective tool to separate the herd is to define minimum customer requirements for your sales team. For instance, in LEAPJob, my family’s recruiting business, we had 3 criteria to quickly qualify if a customer was a fit for our services:

  1. Was the position a sales and marketing job?
  2. Was the position in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)?
  3. Did the position have at least a $45,000 base salary?

If a customer said “no” to any of the questions we’d politely let them know they were not a fit for our services. It was incredibly efficient and effective. Within a 5 minute call, we’d know if the customer was a fit or not.

Being able to separate the herd to find your “ideal average” customers is essential. You may not be able to replicate unicorns, but there’s no reason to sell to poor customers either.

The Illusion of Unicorns

Unicorns are glorious customers. When you find one, hold on tight. They are a delight to work with. But you also have to be pragmatic and recognize these customers for what they are, unicorns. You’re not going find too many that fit your company so well.

When developing buyer personas or mapping the buyer’s journey, focus on your “ideal average.” These customers have the most potential for growth, because you can deliver a compelling value proposition to a larger market with repeatable processes.

The unicorns are glorious, but they’re anomalies. Market to the herd where you can easily find lots of customer opportunities.

What do you think?