Appealing To Everybody Is Appealing to Nobody

If you are trying to appeal to everybody, you are actually appealing to nobody.

Here's an example: coffee in the United States.

There are 500 to 550 million cups of coffee consumed in the United States every day.

We had somebody talk to us about marketing into the coffee market. Our potential client “wanted to be bigger than Starbucks.” He wanted to sell “all 500 million cups of coffee."

Because in his view, his coffee was better.

So he wanted to take over the whole market.

Forgetting the fact that he was only importing one and a half tons, which is a small fraction of the volume of coffee consumed in my home town, let alone the country. He was missing the fundamental point of marketing: just because they're all called cups of coffee, they aren’t actually all the same thing.

There's artisanal coffee, coffee in a café, Dunkin Donuts, organic, espresso bean, dark, medium…

Some people still drink Folgers. I saw it at Costco.

There was a big sale. Somebody was buying two big, red boxes of Folgers.

In my book, that stuff doesn't even count as coffee.

But, in a lot of people's lives it is real coffee. That's what they drink. So if you want to connect with the coffee market you will have to be more specific.

If you're selling a product that is trying to appeal to both the Folgers crowd, as well as, the artisanal, organic coffee crowd, neither will understand your message.

Think of it this way: what would such a blended message look like? Enjoy our cheap, really expensive, bulk produced, hand crafted, big plastic tub specialty coffee? It is an exotic blend that tastes exactly like nothing?

Try it. Nobody will be interested.

Your marketing story must appeal to a narrow enough niche that they can identify themselves as your customer. You have to define a specific, clear niche, be very precise about the product you sell, and clarify the problem it solves.

The good news is that you can sell coffee for $38 a pound - you just have to talk about the problem that coffee solves. The problem must have something to do with exclusivity and taste, it must be something you can’t get everywhere.

You can also sell cheap coffee, pre-ground in big red tubs. The story here probably the coffee is good enough and it is really convenient. None of that complicated grinding or overpowering taste to worry about…

You probably aren’t selling coffee but the same rules apply to you. Identify the problem in the market that you solve and talk about that. Create a story around that niche - how you are addressing it and why you are the right solution.

So don’t be a:

  • financial advisor, instead help people realize their dreams,

  • yoga teacher, instead help people find space,

  • a business coach, instead help people find their first million dollars.

So look at your product, your service and your offering. Define clearly your customer and the problem you solve for them. And get specific.

Be sure that you are appealing to one clear niche, because if you're appealing to everybody, then you are appealing to nobody.

Learn to define your engagestory.

AphorismJeff LoehrComment