Marketing is not like throwing a birthday party in first grade. So hold back on that value pack of Lisa Frank invitations, because you won’t be including the entire class.
But.but.but. Why wouldn’t I want to cast a wide net? I could be missing out on a potential sale, and that feeling would be worse than realizing you left the freezer door open and all the ice cream has melted.
Yes. Technically, anyone with money to burn could fall into your target audience. But is it worth watering down your positioning to make everyone feel included? If you’re the popular wedding planning site TheKnot, for example, it’s alright if the love-is-dead, emotionally calloused types don’t feel “spoken to” on your site. In fact, it’s probably better they don’t.
Targeted content can turn casual spectators into brand superfans
In other words, automatic simpatico is worth its weight in gold doubloons.
You know those rare moments when you stumble onto a new blog and accidentally spend the hours between 11:00 pm and Oh crap, I have work tomorrow reading every post?
As you devour content, you’re struck by a familiar feeling—I’ve had all of these thoughts before! Whoever wrote this must have been living on Saltines and Kool-Aid mix behind a false door in the attic of my brain for years.
It feels good, right?
If you can connect with your audience on that level, that’s powerful. It also means you have to take a stand. Because the kind of content that grabs you by collar and demands your attention is never the vanilla, walking-on-eggshells kind. It has a personality. It taps into a shared human experience that you’ve never been able to articulate before. It condenses an entire night of bonding over Dunkaroos and Captain Planet into one smart sentence. It creates an immediate sense of connection. It builds trust. It sells.
Taking risks to reach your target audience is worth it
Best case scenario, you get potential customers to fall in love with you at fairy-tale speeds. Worst case scenario, you alienate a customer that likely would’ve been a bad fit anyway. Never make someone work to figure out whether your brand is right for them. It should be like coconut. You either love it or you hate it. And usually, it only takes one taste to find out.
Copywriter and sassmaster Ash Ambirge from the Middle Finger Project has a post on this very subject. (I think this line wraps it up nicely.)
“Because for every one person who said, ‘Ugh, not my kind of place,’ there were 5 other people who thought, ‘Now, this is my kind of place.’ ”
Anchovies on pizza
Baby Bear’s bed
1984’s tragically underrated cult classic, Repo Man
To the right person, some things are juuuuuuuust right.
Find your Goldilocks (and sell her the bed she already wants).
Go ahead and take a minute to think about your existing customers. I bet you can trace the lion’s share of your profits to a handful of clients who share a very specific set of characteristics, values, anxieties and desires. THAT is your target audience.
They may not know what your product is or does—yet. But once they find out, they’re already sold. Why? Because it satisfies a major want or challenge that’s already occupying valuable real estate in their minds. In other words, you don’t have to waste time convincing them of your product’s value. You just have to communicate that value in the right way.