In the last couple years, J C Penney has been losing sales. They have upset their core customer base and are now trying desperately to win them back with social media.high heels

What happened?

They hired a CEO who didn’t understand their perfect customer, and tried to market to a crowd that wasn’t interested. They lost a full one-third of their clients, and according to Cris Crum at WebProNews, in his article, “Will J. C. Penney’s Social Media Strategy Help It Win Back Customers?” holiday sales were down 32%.

J. C. Penney is a tad above the Target Brand. In my mind, there’s Walmart & KMart (They’re rather equal in my mind), Target, Sears, J. C. Penney, May Co. to Dillard’s to Nordstrom’s to Saks. Yes, my mind, my list. But you see… J. C. Penney falls somewhere in the middle. The clothes they carry are of better quality than KMart, but they’re not Saks, either.

The corporation’s customers are in the middle, and the CEO, Ron Johnson, wanted to take Penney’s to the next level. Big mistake. He’s no longer the CEO.

But it’s kind of a no-brainer. To the people in the next level, Penney’s is just OK. Nothing special. People who buy at Nordstrom’s wouldn’t be caught dead shopping for clothes at KMart, and neither would the May Co. customers ready to go back into Penney’s clothes. So, though Penney’s might have bought more expensive inventory, the brand reputation for middle-of-the-road was too hard to overcome. So, they lost market share.

You need to know who your customers are, no matter how big or small your company is. Just because you want to be Saks, doesn’t mean you can. Once your brand gets a reputation, it’s hard to change things. Here are some things to ask yourself before deciding who you’re going to market for:

  • Who is buying what you have to sell in the world marketplace?
  • What’s their spending power?
  • What are their values?
  • What do they do for fun?
  • Are they religious?
  • What quality level do they expect?
  • What clientele has bought from you in the past?
  • What’s was their spending power?
  • How did that work out for you?

I love it when you ask a new online marketer, “Who’s your audience,” and they say, “Everyone!” Well, no. Everyone is NOT your audience and if you don’t realize that, you’re doomed to fail. And if this is you and your brand is faltering, you need to decide whether or not you’re marketing to the right people.

If you have an e-commerce store where your product is usually more visual, one way to find out who your best audience is to put your images up on Pinterest. Keep track, in Google Analytics of how much traffic you’re getting, and who likes your stuff.  That demographic will be your best customer. Think about who he or she is.

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