It’s perfectly natural to want everybody to love your product or service.
After all, you’re supposed to reach for the stars, right?
But aiming to please and attract everyone is actually counterproductive. People are unique. They have different motivations. Different worries.
How can you possibly hope to speak to - and connect with - all of them via the content you create?
In this article I’ll explain why you shouldn’t try to attract everyone with your content and why you’re a lot better off speaking to just one person - your ideal customer.
The impulse to want to please everyone
We’ve grown up with companies that seem like they’re for everyone. Or at least for most people. Brands like Coca Cola and Apple have proved it’s possible to achieve mass appeal.
And we’ve also constantly been exposed to the cult of the celebrity. So it’s normal that we think that’s what success looks like - being loved by everyone.
A few days ago I listened to a really interesting interview with Seth Godin on the Unemployable podcast.
In it, Seth speaks about his views on the future of work. And he also touches on what he calls the “smallest viable market” - the smallest group of people you can aim to please that would make your business worthwhile.
He talks about the real seduction of pleasing the masses being that it means nobody hates you. But that there’s a lot less responsibility and blame involved in being for everybody than being for somebody.
It’s an idea that really resonated with me. If you pick a specific audience that you’re trying to work for, it means that you have to keep your promises to this group.
You have to show up and do what you’ve said you’d do.
Mark out your own piece of the map
I wrote in a previous post that empathy is crucial for successful content marketing. If you want your content to resonate with people, you have to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes.
You have to understand what matters most to them.
And this process is much easier if you’ve already asked the question “who is this for?” when you started out.
“Who’s going to benefit most from what I do?”
“Who am I going to help with the content I create?”
Imagine a map of the world that’s populated by all of the consumers on earth. This map is full of emotions and desires, worries and fears. It contains thousands of problems that need to be solved.
Is your product or service really for all of these consumers? Or does it provide a few key benefits and solve one or two specific problems?
Instead of speaking to the whole world and hoping what you say will resonate with somebody, somewhere, choose one specific island instead.
Speak to your ideal customer
Let’s call the inhabitants of this island your ideal customer(s). They need what you offer. And by reading the content you create, they’ll hopefully move across the buyer journey from a stranger to an engaged follower and, finally, to a customer.
But in order to write content that resonates with this ideal customer - which is more important than ever given the competition for attention out there - you need to really know them.
What excites them? What keeps them up at night? How can they benefit from your product or service? And what do they think of the market that you operate in?
Answering these questions (among others) allows you to come up with ideas for pieces of content that can help move them along the buyer journey.
It also helps you to strategise more about your content. Specific pieces should be there to help with a particular problem that your prospects have. Just writing about a topic because you think you should - or because other brands are - isn’t the way.
Instead, you should consult the detailed profile you’ve created of your ideal customer before you think about creating any kind of content. Then you can ask yourself:
“Does this matter to them?”
“Do they need this?”
Not for the masses, but for enough people
It might seem a strange concept to ignore vast swathes of the population with your content, but it’s actually essential if you want it to connect with those who matter.
Try to please everyone and your message becomes diluted.
It’s actually OK if someone comes across one of your articles and doesn’t agree with you. If they don’t see how your product or service could help them.
It wasn’t for them anyway.
It’s equally OK if you speak with a prospect and realise that what you do isn’t for them. They might be better off elsewhere.
In the podcast I mentioned earlier, Seth Godin uses Slack as an example of his theory of the smallest viable market.
Slack is a brand on the up, valued in the billions. If someone asked you if you’d like to be its owner, you’d almost certainly say yes. But globally only about one in a thousand people use the app.
Slack isn’t for the masses. But it’s for enough people to be incredibly successful.
As a brand they know who their ideal customer is, and they’re only speaking to them.
You should do the same.
I help brands to understand who their ideal customer is. Then I write compelling content that resonates with that persona across the buyer journey.
You can find out more about my services here.