The year was 1981—the same year the first Space Shuttle rocketed from the Florida coast. A few weeks after STS-1 launched in April a sixteen-year-old Michael Dell, then a high school student, took a summer job selling subscriptions for The Houston Post.
In his book, Direct from Dell, Michael recounted his time there. “At the time, the newspaper gave its salespeople a list of new phone numbers issued by the telephone company and told us to cold call them. It struck me as a pretty random way of approaching new business.”
Michael soon noticed two common threads. New subscribers tended to be people who had just moved into new homes or who had just married. Armed with this realization, Michael hired two high school friends to identify how he could find people getting mortgages or getting married. He used a personalized letter for these prospects and sold thousands of subscriptions. Michael earned $18,000 that year, which was more than his high school economics teacher.
Why did this work so well? Michael uncovered the core ingredient of customer segmentation. By knowing more about his ideal customer, Michael was able to eliminate the guesswork and, knowing his prospect would likely convert, spend more time connecting with them on a personal level.
This lesson is even truer today than it was in 1981. Technology has paved the way for every company to know more about their customers and build deeper relationships with them.
Now it’s your turn. Find out more about how technology can pave the way for your business when you read Blue Goldfish.