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You Don’t Have to Be Everything to Everyone

Posted on September 11, 2019 in Branding

Think about some of the most famous people and brands in America right now.

Whether your mind goes to President Trump, Nike, Taylor Swift, or Apple, they all hold one thing in common…

They have plenty of devoted followers, but they’re certainly not loved by everyone.

It’s a fact of life that you can’t make everyone happy. As a business owner, it’s hard to turn your back on any demographic, potential market, or audience. We want to think of every audience as potential customers. It can feel like shooting ourselves in the foot to double down on a specific audience or product. When a hot new trend bursts on the market, it can be tempting to jump on it even if it’s not related to our core offering.

You don’t have to be all things to all people…in fact, you might be better off ignoring some. Here are a few reasons why it’s often better to focus on specific products and audiences versus being a generalist.

No Brand Serves Everyone

Okay, that might not be strictly true, but it’s close. Most brands pick and choose which audiences they will serve (and with which products). Serving everyone is often only possible for larger companies that have vast amounts of resources. It’s a lot harder for smaller businesses who can only spend so much time and money to connect with different audiences. It was more realistic in the past, but it’s more difficult than ever today.

Think of food and beverages. In the 1970s, vegetarians were few and far between and vegans were unheard of. You certainly never heard about the environmental impact of eating animal products. As a result, it was easy to sell milk and beef to any customer in the grocery store. Nowadays, virtually every store has ten types of vegan milk and a whole row of plant-based meat alternatives. The point is, it’s getting harder and harder to sell the same product to anyone off the street.

Even Water Has Haters

Even a product as basic as bottled water will have detractors. That’s why a company called Liquid Death was able to raise $1.6 million in funding to start a canned water brand catering to metalheads with a sustainable slant. Talk about specialization!

The point is that specialists often have stronger brands than generalists. Marketing to everyone is always going to be harder than speaking to specific niches. When certain groups will always turn their nose up at your product, businesses might as well double down on their target niche.

Craft a Stronger Message By Targeting a Niche

Any salesperson worth their salt will tell you that you need to understand someone before you can sell to them. That’s why great salespeople ask tons of questions before pushing a sale. The more you understand someone, the easier it is to sell to their specific pain points and show them why your product offers them value.

The same concept goes for marketing and advertising. When we target a niche, we’re able to target people with a specific lifestyle, with unique pain points, needs and wants. Imagine having a clothing line and pitching it to either teenagers or parents. We can try to brand ourselves as appealing to both, but it will always be tougher than picking one or the other. Broad brands like GAP and Old Navy do pull this off, but niche brands often have a passionate base willing to pay a premium for their product.

When we focus on a niche, we can craft messages that are relatable and truly resonate with the group. The further you narrow your niche, the more specific you can go with your messaging and the more your target audience will identify with the brand.

No one wants to read ads targeted toward everyone in the tri-county area, people want to read messages crafted for people just like them. The brands that do this tend to win big.

We Live in an Age of Specialization…Are You Branded Accordingly?

You don’t have to be everything to everyone. In fact, it’s much easier (and often more profitable) to brand one good thing for one group of people. Maybe water for metalheads is a little specific, but trendy clothes for moms that want to feel young again? Bingo. As with many things in life, sometimes less is more when it comes to branding.

When we think of the brands that gain a truly powerful following, they’re rarely generalists. You have probably met at least one Jeep fanatic in your life, but you run across fewer Ford enthusiasts (even here in the Motor City). Likewise, you probably know tons of people who use Windows laptops, but none of them will chew your ear off about the brand like an Apple fan. Sometimes it’s more about the subculture of the audience than the product lines themselves.

It’s not hard to see which of these four brands target a niche and build a loyal customer base. Niche doesn’t always beat broad…but they usually have the biggest fans.

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