Learning to Say No: Focus on Ideal Customers to Boost your Bottom Line

Debbie Williams

Written by Debbie Williams on Fri, Dec 05, 2014

inboundmarketing_SaynoI recently wrote a blog for the HubSpot Agency Post, which is a blog written by and for fellow HubSpot agency partners, on Learning to Say   ‘No’ - Why Focusing on Your Agency’s Ideal Clients Will Boost Your Bottom Line. While the post offers insight from and to an inbound marketing agency, the ideas in it can be certainly be applied to almost any kind of business.

As a business always striving to grow, it may feel impossible to say “no” to new business opportunities that come along. But have you ever thought that saying no can actually help you grow?

Focus on your Target Audience

Before you can say “no” to anyone, you need to know you want to say “yes” to first. That means, having a clear audience strategy, including defined buyer personas that drive all of your content marketing efforts.

Answer these three questions when determining your ideal customer base:

1) Will this industry be profitable?

Think about it. Is this target audience group or industry one that has the budget to invest your products or services long term?  For example, if you’re a secure document management company, and you’re looking to target the healthcare practitioners, think about the types of practices that might most need or find value in your services. Will they only need to store two or three boxes of files per month?  Or would targeting larger multi-physician practices meet your profit margins?

2) Where have we been successful before?

Identify the ways you’ve had success within that industry or a related business sector, and leverage those successes. Look at the case studies, sales and testimonials that can be used to build your new business case.

3) Do we get what they need?

While you may be interested in tapping into this particular industry, does your company have any experience in the area to show? If you don’t have any closely related industry experience, then you should likely look at other verticals.

Learn How and When to Say ‘No’

After identifying the type of customers and industries you can be most successful with, you have to decide what to do when an opportunity comes your way that does not fit the criterion you set up?

If needed, review your personas, and check off the necessary yes and no attributes. Take a careful look through the essential checklist points like budget, longevity, and long term value. Something that has been very helpful to us as an agency is the buyer profile we developed as a team. It was a collaborative list of the positive and negative attributes (beyond facts) and insights of our ideal clients that helped us identify who we want to work with.

Here’s a sample of our inbound marketing agency's buyer profile checklist that really helped us learn when someone is not the ideal fit for our business.


As the saying goes, when one door closes another one opens. Saying “no” to what you don’t want will only open your company up to bigger and better opportunities, working with your ideal customers.  And, when you do start a  conversation with them, make sure you actually talk to your customers, not just business-to-business, but person-to-person. 

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