And of course my headline was me being partially sarcastic and partially driven by the thought of the ice cream in the next sentence. Shall we talk about problems? Oh go on then I hear you say, whilst secretly focusing on the mini ice creams…
The biggest problem in business
The biggest problem I see in business — and I mean everywhere, not just online businesses — is that so many business owners want to sell what they’ve got to everybody. I say so tell me who is your ideal customer? and they respond… everybody.
Really? Everybody? Everybody
Like that dead person waiting to be embalmed at the funeral home is your ideal prospect? What? No? What about that homeless guy? No? Okay what about those students over there? No? Those kids playing in the park, what about them?
But I thought you said everybody.
These businesses want to sell as many of what they have as possible, so they don’t niche down and sell to a targeted audience, they go broad instead. Now, I like you, you’re reading this post and you’re smart, (what’s not to like about that) and unlike these crazy businesses who don’t see the value in narrowing the scope of their marketing efforts, you do. They see a targeted audience as reducing their potential sales, you see it as way to grow them.
Narrowing down your niche works
You must have been to one of those networking meetings of small business owners, recruiters, multi level marketers and sales people, where each person gets 30 seconds to tell the group who they are and what they sell, in an effort to generate referrals?
Nine out of 10 will say something like, “I sell these widgets, and they’re really great widgets. Everyone needs to use my widgets, so I sell them to anybody and everybody.” I really should use a non-widget example but widget works… everyone knows what a widget is, right?
You might was well be honest and come right out and say “My perfect customer is someone with a pulse. Anyone in the room not have a pulse?”
But every now and then, there’s a guy with a specific message. He says something like, “I sell widgets to garages. A good referral for me is the mechanic who fixes your car.” And guess what? He gets referrals. The rest don’t.
The same is true in the online world as well as business networking. The more specific you can be with your marketing message, the more success you will have. So speak to your target customer as directly as possible. Speak directly to them in their language, not jargon or pseudo corp-speak that you never understood even when you worked in a corporate position. They words and language they use make them feel better connected to you.
Let’s explore a scenario. Let’s say I might be a prospective buyer of your widgets. I might really need your widgets (especially if they’re chocolate caramel with ice cream widgets) but I just don’t know about them. All you have to do is get my attention, and maybe I’ll buy from you.
So how do you get my attention? Trip me up in front of a freezer in the grocery store? Hell no, you get me by tweaking your marketing message. I’m a unique individual, with my own specific circumstances and my own specific problems. I don’t think of myself as one of “anybody and everybody.” I’m special. Stop sniggering, I am. When I’m busy not being special I do think of myself as a member of a group. In fact, I’m a member of many groups.
I’m a business owner. I’m a mother,sister, neice and a daughter, and an employee. You get the idea, this isn’t just ME I’m talking about, I’m talking about who YOUR buyer is likely to be.
Maybe I like to read books or eat jaffa cakes, so “readers” and “jaffa cake lovers” are groups I identify with. If I have poor eyesight or tennis elbow, that puts me in one of those groups, people with a particular ailment. So if you say your widgets work for mothers who own their own business, but read books poorly due to poor eyesight, guess what? You’ve got my attention!
You’ve described me, my pain, and now I feel connected. The fact you’ve a packet of jaffa cakes in your hand is no way irrelevant, I know you totally get me. Not only do you totally get me, you know my inner pains and you can cure them with your widgets. You say your widgets come with free jaffa cakes? That sounds right up my street! I’m so totally listening, tell me more as I wipe away my drool.
The way to build a following — a tribe, as Seth Godin puts it — is by targeting a specific group of people; a niche of people with a common problem that your product solves.
You’ll never build a following by trying to sell to “everybody,” because the truth is there’s nothing out there that appeals to everybody.
In fact, the more precisely you describe me, the more I’m going to like you and trust you.
And people buy from people they know, like and trust, they buy from people who totally get them and they don’t just buy once, they buy over and over and over.
Now, hand over the mini-Magnums, I do believe they were marketed directly to me.