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The challenge of being specific is that it seems impossible to scale.
What does being specific mean in your business? It’s the truth behind perception, communication, understanding, prejudice and the barriers presented by a kind of ‘telephone’ game
space between people. It means that if you can connect with one person, that doesn’t mean you can connect with the next one, no matter HOW much alike they are. And that
is the end point….how do you plan or strategize for this kind of connection?
Going by previous data and experience will only get you so far. And sometimes it doesn’t even work for the same person! Think about how your own thoughts and feelings have changed over the years. If the “younger me” tried to convince the “today me” of a number of things about people, places, beliefs, prejudices and things I’ve learned more about over the years, well….I would have walked away as a younger man.
So back to being specific…in business, I’ve learned that a focus on “anybody who” as a customer is actually no one. Even honing it down to “A small business owner with a company that has 5 – 100 employees and has been in business for at least 5 years” is too broad. What do they care about? What are those 2 or 3 things that are nagging, painful problems they just can’t seem to crack? While each business is unique and has its own problems, there ARE business norms and trends in the U.S. There is a certain amount of consistency.
OK, so how to square this circle? How can you bring the utterly unique view, and focus, of each business owner to a place of dialogue with the more general business problems you are looking at, with an eye to creating a strong connection for how they apply to that unique business? How to get the “light bulb” to go off so they “get” how much they need your service and/or product? How can you do this in a way that can be communicated more effectively than just 1-to-1? Marketing has to scale unless that one client signs for an enormous amount and you don’t really need any more clients!
How? Dig into the knowledge and expertise that’s out there. There’s a lot of research on personas, communication styles, learning styles, Myers-Briggs and the like. How can any of it help you, especially if you’re not a psych major and have your own business to run? Hire an expert to help.
As a first principal, a good foundation is your beginning. A solid business plan, marketing plan and the associated marketing research that discovers and defines the potential customer base is your foundation. These get you started. If done well, they will give you a better clue who you are targeting and what they want.
The hard thing about these, aside from the amount of effort involved and doing it well, is that most of us never revisit them. Why? It’s because of the HUGE level of work involved and because we’re kind of scared that, if things change, we will now be wrong and have to start over. But isn’t starting over better than continuing on in the wrong direction and killing your business?
Don’t be blind. The marketplace is dynamic (or volatile, depending on your Point Of View…) and WILL change. I made a pretty significant business model adjustment a year ago that resulted in my pipeline going dry for about 5 months. However, I then booked my first new client under that model. It is much more lucrative for time spent than anything else I’ve done, as well as more fun. Identifying and signing the client is WAY more difficult, to be sure, but the work is more rewarding, the value is significant, and the time is better spent.
Circling back to specificity: one thing modeled in many of the marketing tools today (think Facebook Audience Insights…) is the ability to sculpt target audiences to a greater degree. The need to do this was always there, but the older methodologies for marketing were around the broadcast model and not the relationship/trust model. Blowing your message out there, regardless of how well crafted the message was (or is…), will statistically land on fewer interested ears than approaching audiences with the goal of building relationships with them and building engagement (dialogue, trust, reputation, credibility…).
If you are even ‘speaking’ with fewer people, but they are each more inclined to be interested in what you say, it is more valuable for your business.
Even if you only connect with 5 people, if they are the Right 5 people, you are successful.