A Product for Everybody is a Product for Nobody

“Who is the target audience?” I asked.

“Well, everybody,” he replied, confused by my question.

I was in a meeting with a gentleman who was opening a store that sold camping gear in Brooklyn.

“The problem is that a product for everybody is a product for nobody,” I explained. “If you try to appeal to everyone, you will fail. Good marketing does not attempt to appeal to everyone, but targets those who are a great match for what you have to offer.”

Why?

Glad you asked.

Differentiation

Unless you’re one of the big, established brands like Kleenex or Coca-Cola with a huge budget who still benefits from the days when you monopolized the airwaves, you cannot afford to be basic. The market is far too crowded for you to play it safe. Cater to a niche market and you will have a far greater chance of being heard.

Brand

This one is so important. What may turn off or fail to resonate with one group of people might be exactly what appeals to another. You can’t dance at two weddings. Go for a group that’s large enough to matter and likely to need or want what you have to offer. A brand that’s all over the place is not a brand at all, but a confused hodgepodge of chaos that will be ineffective at reaching or impacting its target. Investing in the long game of brand building will attract people to come to you instead of you having to go to them. But, the only way to build a cohesive brand is by having a consistent voice. Identifying a specific audience or a buyer persona will provide you with all the direction you need for developing a branding, content, and communication strategy. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about you. It’s about your audience. Find your tribe, learn everything you can about them, and then craft your message accordingly.

Sell to the Sold

Not everyone in Brooklyn goes camping. Actually, it’s pretty safe to say that very few of us go camping, so targeting all Brooklynites is certainly a mistake. It’s equally foolhardy to appeal to campers and outdoorsy folks in other locations. Not only because the physical store was in Brooklyn (I worked on the Shopfiy store), but because generic camping content would get crowded out by the competition and become lost in the noise. However, targeting the niche audience of Brooklyn residents who actually like to escape the city now and then and rough it in the outdoors with content that taps into their psyche, addresses their pain points, understands their sense of humor or frustrations, and provides them with unique value will get their attention. A common mistake people make is trying to sell the unsellable. A far better strategy is to put yourself in front of people who already need what you offer and are, therefore, more likely to buy. If they like your product and learn to trust and like your brand through your content, they’ll be sold before you even start selling.

Not everyone is going to buy what you’re selling. You’re not pizza. You’re not ice cream. You’re not going to make everybody happy. Unless you really are pizza or ice cream and even then, you won’t be a hit with vegans or the lactose intolerant.

So, stop trying to be something for everyone. Be you and find people who dig it. Ignore the rest and work hard at creating relationships with the people who matter.