Do You Need A GPS?
By Doug Dagenais
(When BarterCorp was sold in 1999 to Intagio, Doug Dagenais became
the new National Sales Manager handling their retail and national
accounts. He also took over management of the Chicago Corporate
In 2003 he left to build the barter division of Shell Vacations
Club. There, he coordinated $1 million annually in room-night trades
with many exchange groups as well as direct vendor transactions.
Contacted by Steve White in 2007 to compliment the organic growth of
ITEX, he was brought onboard as National Sales Manager.
Subsequently, new nationwide account registrations for the company
have exceeded 30% over the past year.)
As we all attempt to manage and grow our business, sometimes we�re
challenged in finding the way. For a barter network, when it comes
to new account registrations�the key to growth�losing the way can be
devastating. We search for prospects by networking, cold calling,
advertising, getting referrals, and talking to anyone we know. It�s
much like the advertising industry in the past, promote your
products to everyone and see what sticks. This approach has passed
by in the advertising industry and it should have passed us by as
Target Market Segmentation has proven to be the most cost effective
approach to growing a business. This means defining the market that
your core business works well with, and messaging your
products/services to those targets through the medium they respond
to. A simple statement, but it has a host of implications to the
Defining the market:
What business are we in? One of the great opportunities about our
industry is that barter can be applied to most every business. This
is also one of our great challenges. What customer do we serve and
serve well? What customer segment do we have the resources to
support? Small business services? Mid market manufacturing? Media?
Travel? National accounts? All of these?
My experience tells me that we build communities, no matter what
industry or size business we serve. Communities based on a clients�
needs and offerings. If we move in this direction, it results in an
immediate transaction, benefit to our customer, and an urgency for
the prospect to move forward quickly. No matter what segment we
choose, we need to be focused on filling the customer needs. If our
prospecting carries us outside of this, we�re taking the wrong
direction and need to look at our map.
Once we define our market segment, can we define our core strength
in serving that market? Do we focus on supply chain transactions or
ancillary expense categories? Are we in the membership business or
are we creating one time transactions? When we define our core
business, we best understand how we can serve customers and can
thus, in fact, deliver our promises and exceed expectations. Do this
and we can build on our customer relationships, rather than churn
through prospects that we should have never sought out.
Knowing our market segment and how our customers perceive us begins
to define our core essence. (Our core business is what we
think we provide our customers. Our core essence is what our
customers think we provide them.) Understanding what our
customer expects from us helps define our message�our value
If this can be defined, our message can be loud and clear. We will
truly be providing solutions and be valued by our prospect. Without
this, barter can be a blur of misunderstood options and processes
that eventually erode the customer benefit. And hence, continue to
drive us toward continuing to prospect in areas where we have no
I don�t believe the barter industry has experienced great market
penetration with traditional advertising. I would suggest that our
industry is ripe to experience viral marketing...creating a �buzz�
generated by our customers. Again, a conclusion that should drive us
to grow our business based on our current customers� needs.
If we can focus on these elements, we should never be challenged for
finding prospects that result in a smooth path to growing our
business. And, if we execute properly, not only will we find the
right prospect, but as well, enhance our ability to close the
prospect and ultimately create customer satisfaction. And that will
give us �buzz.�
So, turn on the GPS and never get lost again!