Crippled CEO Blog #066:
We are influenced by our role models. If you are a business owner, even if you don’t think of them in this way, you are influenced by the largest corporations in the world, the businesses that you are the most familiar with. You have learned from Walmart, McDonald’s, Toyota, and Coca-Cola that the goal is to appeal to the largest number of customers possible. The logic follows that the more people who CAN buy from you, the more people who WILL buy from you. You don’t want to do anything that’s going to turn away customers.
There’s a problem with this: it’s not true. Amazon, Google, and Target are the exceptions. For the rest of us, trying to serve everybody is the best way to be delightful for absolutely no one. Trying to appeal to the largest possible audience is the guaranteed path towards mediocrity, brand apathy, and being easily replaced by someone better or cheaper without a second thought.
Picking your customer, being as specific as possible to try to find, as my hero Seth Godin puts it, the minimum viable audience, and being diligent in focusing all your attention on serving that specific niche is just as important as offering the best product or service possible, and infinitely more critical than picking your name or your logo.
Saying “no” to the majority of people allows you to earn the loyalty of those to whom you can say “yes.” Depth is better than width. And this isn’t some austere sacrifice. If 99% of the planet doesn’t like what you’re doing, that means 77 million people out there think your business, art, writing, or podcast sizzles their fajita. The beautiful thing about the Internet is that owning a small slice of the pie still gets you a large number of human beings.
Stop trying to make everybody happy. Stop trying to get every single customer — a lot of them aren’t for you and you’re not for them. Spend time deciding exactly who you want to thrill, and then go about doing the things that will make that person the happiest customer ever — for life.
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