Why targeting 'everyone' is the worst strategy
You’ve developed a great product or have an amazing service you know everyone could benefit from. So naturally, you want to make sure everyone gets to hear about it.
The more people you share this with the more clients you’ll get and the more profit you’ll make...
And in this economic climate who can afford to exclude anyone that might be a potential client? No matter how small or unsuitable they may be.
Well, while that may make perfect, logical sense, it’s actually the worst strategy for effectively growing your business.
In trying to appeal to everyone, you’ll reach no one
It sounds counterintuitive, but trying to produce marketing messages that appeal to everyone, means you’ll probably end up appealing to no one.
You see, people are selfish and tribal. We can’t help it. It’s part of our ‘chimp’ brain that compels us to seek out groups that believe what we believe or like what we like.
Back in the day, your tribe protected you. Anyone not in your tribe was viewed with suspicion. As an enemy (so, not much change there then).
In our modern world, neo-tribalism, or the modern tribe, is largely a social construct where we consciously or unconsciously form groups with others that think or behave the way we do. Think of those people queueing all night to buy the latest Apple product. Or go to any Crossfit Box and you’ll see very clearly what a modern tribe looks like.
Point is, creating any generic-appeal-to-everyone marketing is doomed to failure. If you can’t demonstrate that you either belong to or at least understand their ‘tribe’ people won’t give you the time of day.
And, by-the-way, people can and do belong to many different tribes. Even if at first look they seem to identify to just one. For example, being part of the “I’ll happily queue all night for the latest Apple product” tribe, doesn’t mean you can’t also belong to the “I love everything Northern Soul” tribe.
It doesn’t matter what your product or service is, targeting a specific tribe (audience) with messages that understand them, use their language, and appeal to them emotionally will get you greater engagement and a better return on your marketing investment.
You’ll waste time, resources & money
Trying to appeal to everyone also means you’ll end up wasting more of your time, spend more of your money, and use more of your resources marketing to people that are unlikely ever to become your clients.
Producing marketing pieces that appeal specifically to Citroen 2CV Sahara 4x4 AZ 44 - 1961 enthusiasts is a lot less expensive than developing marketing that’s trying to appeal to all car owners, all vintage car enthusiasts, or even all french car enthusiasts.
If you’re like most businesses, marketing spend is a perennial topic of conversation with the Finance team. Mainly because they can’t see any tangible return on the money being shelled out.
If you’re trying to target everyone I guarantee you’re not spending your marketing pounds effectively. You’re just wasting your time and money chasing ‘prospects’ who aren’t interested in what you have to offer.
Be realistic about your priorities and spend your money targeting those sectors and businesses that you’ve identified as the best fit for what you offer.
You’ll appear indecisive
No one wants their marketing to seem wishy-washy, without direction, or indecisive...
But that’s exactly how you’ll look if what you produce isn’t targeted.
Your marketing will be so weak that people won’t know what you stand for or who you’re trying to appeal to.
Ultimately, you want people to have a very clear understanding of what you do, who you do it for, and a reason to buy from you.
If you try to appeal to everyone this won’t be clear to the people you really want as customers.
We live in a world of data.
Pretty much everything can be analyzed, measured, and segmented.
The skilled marketer knows how to use data to inform the direction of their existing and future marketing campaigns.
Data tells you who’s really interested in what you do, what aspects of what you do they’re interested in, what elements of your product or service they like...and importantly, what they dislike.
Understanding and (critically) using data correctly will show you who to target, when to target them, and also inform the messages you target them with.
So, what should you do instead?
Find your best clients
Go small to get big!
Narrow your potential audience down to what Seth Godin calls your “smallest viable market”. The minimum number of people you would need to influence to make it worth the effort.
Find your best clients. The ones you really want to do business with… And get really specific about who they are. The more you know about your best clients the more your marketing will resonate with them.
If you produce several product lines or have a number of services, you can develop ‘best’ client groups or target audiences for each. Allowing you to create targeted marketing strategies to attract new clients that look like your best clients.
The secret is to not spread yourself too thinly, which you’ll do if you don’t focus your efforts and resources on your best clients.
Understand their pains and challenges
Once you’ve segmented your universe to the smallest viable audience, you need to get to work understanding their pains, challenges, and key drivers.
What are they really looking for from the type of product you sell? What frustrates them about similar products and services? What are they trying to achieve? What makes them choose a competitor or alternative product over you?
People want products and services that solve their problems. You need to demonstrate, through your marketing, that what you offer is their best option for overcoming their problems and frustrations or helping them achieve their goals.
You can’t stand out and be the company of choice if you’re just pushing out the same marketing as everyone else.
Maximize your marketing
Marketing that appeals to a specific audience will save you time, money, and resources in the long run, because you’ll be focused on creating messages for people that are interested in what you do.
You’ll be adopting a laser-focused targeting strategy, rather than a scattergun ‘hit-and-hope’ approach.
You’ll save time and stop wasting money and resources marketing to people that don’t have an interest in what you offer.
You’ll appear more relevant to your audience because you’ll be targeting their pain points and challenges, and you’ll be using language that shows you understand their tribe.
You’ll weed out those who aren’t the right fit for your business. In fact, if you get your messaging right those that don’t fit will self-select themselves out. Saving you the time and effort of trying to convince unsuitable prospects.
You’ll be different from those that deliver similar products or services.
You’re not amazon. So stop trying to sell to everyone in the market. Even Amazon started life just selling books online. If you wanted a toaster from Amazon in 1994 you couldn’t get one... But I bet you could buy a book on toasters from them.
My point is, even Amazon, one of the biggest companies in the world, started life targeting a relatively small group of people that had a specific need.
So focus on a specific tribe, target your marketing, and watch your business grow.
Tagged as: Best Clients
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