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Appealing to Everyone Appeals to No One

By Hank Barnes | December 20, 2016 | 0 Comments


This is not going to be a late post on the election (if you know me well, you know I don’t talk politics).   But there continues to be a pattern that I see tech providers repeat over and over and over.

They define their targets effectively as everyone.  Or everyone who might consider a purchase in a category.   This broad a scope creates a big problem.  As you develop the description of the target customer’s situation–what they need and want and why—it gets so watered down and nebulous that no one really cares.  And you can’t stand out from the crowd.


Once you grow and are a known and respected brand, you can expand to appeal to more and more buyers and segments.    But, the way to get there is not to try to appeal to everyone.  Instead, identify a segment of  customers where you can be more specific about the needs and wants.  This allows them to self-identify that you understand them.  Then you can be more specific about your value.

I’ve always believed that the single most important place to start in marketing is with positioning and a story.  But within that, the focus on a clear understanding of the target customer matters most.  I blogged about the Enterprise Persona recently, which is a similar perspective.

But the key is this.  As you look to prioritize in 2016, my one recommendation is to spend more time (ideally much more time) developing that understanding of your ideal customer.   Develop stories for them.  Their specific situation and aspirations.  You’ll find more opportunities to stand out and differentiate—and have a message that really matters to them.   You’ll also find that others will hear it and be intrigued even if it does not align directly to them, because it will have a point of view and clarity that is missing from other places.

Don’t appeal to everyone.   Appeal to a segment of customers that will embrace your point of view and carry it to others.  You’ll soon fine that your appeal will extend beyond that segment to others—much faster than starting broadly.

Happy Holiday.

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