My service or product is not for everyone. This is the revelation I got not from one but from two of my private clients this week. One is an exceptional teacher and the other is an exceptional doctor. Both with the desire to spread their knowledge and help as many people as possible. Unfortunately, what they came to realize was that this desire only created additional anxiety. It turned out that the expectations they set for themselves were unrealistic and they were not only creating disappointment for themselves but also preventing their business from growing.
When you try to reach everyone, you get no one.
“I’ve just come to realize that what I offer might not be for everyone, even though I know that they will benefit from it”. I got that statement along with, “This totally changed the way I think now when I know that I should focus on the audience that will value my offerings.”
Define your audience
This is one of the first lessons in marketing, no matter if we are referring to modern digital marketing or traditional marketing. There are numerous methods and tools that could help you define your audience. Creating personas and segmentation is part of every serious strategic plan. Defining your audience is an element of every advertising platform in today’s digital world.
So then, why do we fail?
What we think might not be what it is.
Let’s be honest, most start-up businesses and entrepreneurs are solely drafting their audience based on their beliefs and expectations. In some cases they do a bit of research here and there, ask a few questions on Google based on their internal understanding and some go out and do field testing. I love that part.
Here comes the “big pink blurry wall”. You go out to meet strangers, or friends and family members and you start telling them about your idea. They are fascinated and praise you with compliments on how amazing your new adventure sounds and for that moment, it seems like there is a definite need. Finally, they assure you how they will be first in line to use your service or product and by the end of the conversation, your motivation has skyrocketed, together with your expectations.
Moving on to the not-so “Happy Ending” part. At the time that your product/service is readily available, you start to realize that “I will buy it” is not the same as actually taking the action. You start feeling angry and disappointed because the “big pink blurry wall” you have constructed, not only turned to be blue but has also interfered with your ability to see behind the sweet intentions.
Is there anything we are doing wrong? Not to break your confidence, but you are probably doing a thousand things wrong or will eventually turn out to be wrong. And that’s normal.
The Black Swan audience
In the field of decision-making and risk analysis, you will often stumble upon the theory of the Black Swan. This is a metaphor that characterizes an event that happens as a surprise and has a major effect. The story behind this term comes from the old days saying where people presumed that black swans did not exist. Like many myth-shattering discoveries, you could just imagine the astoundment after finding the first black swan.
While reading these lines you might wonder what the black swan has in common with the audience you need to define in your business. Our beliefs and prior knowledge make us define the “white swan audience”, and we do not even in our wildest dreams accept the possibility of having a “black swan audience”. When you are creating your personas, include the audience you think might benefit from your offerings, but also don’t forget to think outside the box.
“Mistaking a naive observation of the past as something definitive or representative of the future is the one and only cause of our inability to understand the Black Swan.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
What to do?
First things first. Accept that not everyone will like what you are offering, not everyone that likes your offering will want it, and not everyone that wants it will actually make a purchase. Try to narrow down your focus and look for quality rather than quantity. This might seem like a hard task especially when people define the success of the business with the number of followers they have or by engagement of their current audience. We see an extreme amount of Instagram superstars with a mind-blowing fan base, but then when you have worked with so many of them you know that this is just the illusion, the beautiful mask that hides the lack of sales and lack of real leads.
The topic of defining the right audience is infinite. The intent of this article was not to teach you how to do it, but to give you a different perspective on what to consider when you are defining your audience. Hopefully it has also given you a little relief from the anxiety caused by an unrealistic desire to reach everyone. And again, just keep reminding yourself that trying to reach everyone will get you no one. Don`t be afraid to be creative in your efforts to find your black swan audience.