I just read about this today on the Well-Fed Writer blog (seems appropriate, doesn’t it).
The salad dressing rule means that when you’re marketing salad dressing, you first look for people who already enjoy and appreciate a fresh, crisp salad.
You ignore anyone who hates veggies, frowns at salad and would much rather eat a Big Mac and fries.
Market to the people who want you
Spending a lot of time and effort selling snowshoes to Arabian desert dwellers is a waste of effort.
Selling design services or writing to people who don’t see the value in those things is also a waste of time and effort.
Instead, focus on those who do appreciate (and understand) the value that strong writing skills brings to a project — sometimes literally. If you write strong ad copy for example, your architect client may earn more money from her ad than if she wrote it herself. Make sure to point that out. If she doesn’t agree that professional copywriting is important, she’s not the right client for you. Move on to someone else.
Why your dressing is the best (for them)
Once you find people who already like salad, then you have to make it clear why they should buy your dressing, rather than someone else’s dressing.
What do your clients want from salad dressing anyway? What’s important to them (not you, them)?
Do they want the freshest possible dressing? Make yours daily (and tell them that). Or, are they concerned about pesticides or artificial ingredients? Point out that yours is organic.
Why do people who already buy your dressing like it? If you’re not sure, sit down and think about it. If you’re still not sure, talk to some clients and ask them.
Of course, unless you actually sell salad dressing, your real clients are more likely to be concerned about earning more money, having less stress, or doing something hard more easily. Find out what most worries them, what keeps them up at night. Then structure your product pitch to solve those problems.
Once you’ve done that, go have a nice salad. 😉