Cc: Lauren Conrad Instagram

Looking for the “One”

Or finding your early audience

“Who is your audience?” “Everyone.”

This dialogue takes place in nearly every first meeting I have with a client. And a good marketer knows this is the wrong answer.

There is a certain rhythm to growing an audience and building a community. I can’t wait for the data modeling tools to show how organic it is and that most hacking measures do not result in sustainable growth.

I’ve found many early-stage entrepreneurs to be terrified of zero-ing on one demographic, one persona, one audience segment. Many fear they will alienate everyone they aren’t talking to, decreasing their share of the market. It works the opposite way.

When you focus on talking to one “person,” you actually make it easier for people to understand what your company does, its unique point of view, and who should listen to this point of view. Not only will this approach attract those who identify with that caricature, but all those who aspire in some way to be like that caricature. As an audience falls in love with this caricature, they internalize the message the caricature carries and then will pass this along.

It seems counterintuitive, but by focusing in on one persona, you’re likely to get to more of the market than you would trying to talk to the whole market.

When talking to one person, you’re giving clarity to who you are and what you stand for.

When talking to everyone, you’re diluting your message, your voice, and your attention.

Here are five steps to help get started creating your “one”:

  1. Create a character. Give her a name. Dig into his daily routine, his hopes and dreams, and how he communicates with the people around him. Walk in her footsteps for a day to figure out how what you’re offering fits into her life. For the sake of this conversation, let’s call our persona Andrea.
  2. Figure out how to get their attention. What do you need to say and through what means do you need to say it to get Andrea’s attention? This will help you prioritize and focus your effort. If Andrea doesn’t use Twitter, don’t use Twitter. If she doesn’t read Fast Company, don’t pitch a story to FastCo. Simple as that.
  3. Start a conversation. Start imitating a one-on-one conversation between you and Andrea. Speak to the public at large as if you’re only speaking to Andrea. Why is this effective? It lets others to understand your point of view and identify “Andreas” in their life that may be interested in what you have to say. It’s setting yourself up to find and recruit all the Andreas through those that know and love her.
  4. Open yourself up. Once you imitate the conversation, you’ll likely attract Andrea and others who aspire to be her into engaging in an actual conversation. Once you have their attention, engage them in cultivating a human connection. This will help you ask the right questions to the right people to help grow your audience well.
  5. Be you. Especially in the early years, you want to make sure that the Andreas in your audience are talking to a real, live human being, a human being who embodies the company’s core values and is authentically themselves. If Andrea likes you, she’ll help build your audience. So you have to show her who you are from the onset.

This post originally appeared on the Marked Point blog.