“Everyone” Is Not Your Customer

man shopping for lumber

When I first started my business, I made a big mistake.

I believe in StoryBrand. I think the StoryBrand Framework can solve most companies’ marketing problems. So I went out and attempted to convince local businesses that I could help with their problems.

I landed a couple of clients but quickly began to regret it.

I saw that these businesses needed marketing and messaging help and told them that would lead to increased sales. They saw low sales and wanted sales to go up, but didn’t see that marketing as their problem. We were misaligned.

They brought me on because they knew something needed to change, but they fought me at every turn.

One had a terribly confusing website and one-liner. I redesigned the website and rewrote the one-liner so people would understand them. The next day the owner changed them back. “No, that’s not what I need. I just need people to show up.”

The other didn’t know what problem they solved for their customers. I attempted to help them narrow it down. They wouldn’t have it. After hours of work together, they decided it was better not to know what problem they solved or why people bought their product. They’d rather write cute taglines and hope one of them worked.

When I stepped on the scene and tried to convince business owners to try out the StoryBrand Framework, I neglected their worldview. I didn’t take into account whether marketing, or this particular type of marketing, fit into the way they see their business.

I ignored a fundamental truth about business: my customer is not everyone.

You see, every person has a worldview. A lens through which they view the world. This worldview is decades in the making. Everything a person experiences contributes to the way they see and engage with the world. It includes all sorts of thoughts and opinions, from the way they should start their day to what kind of car they should drive to the pets they own.

I attempted to change peoples’ worldviews and convince them that what I had to offer is what they wanted. This is an incredibly difficult, and often futile, task. With so many years and so many experiences contributing to their thoughts and beliefs, my opinion is a drop in the bucket.

It is not my job to convince people I have what they want. It is my job to find people who already want what I have.

There are people in your community who already believe what you believe. They’re not walking around looking for someone to change their mind or convince them of something new; they are looking for someone who supports their worldview. They are looking for what you offer.

Consider the new movie, Black Panther. In an interview with Rolling Stone, director Ryan Coogler made it clear that his target audience was not everyone. Referring to an early conversation with Disney he said, “I was very honest about the idea I wanted to explore in this film, which is what it means to be African.”

A movie about what it means to be African at a time when white supremacists are holding rallies, and the president seems to embrace, or at least tolerate racism and bigotry. During its debut, white folks posted on Twitter with fake stories about being beaten and kicked out of theaters by angry black people. Not an ideal scenario for a new movie.

And yet, Black Panther is smashing through box office records. It had one of the biggest opening weekends of all time, second biggest second weekend of all time, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

I discovered the same thing—the more I focus on people who want what I sell, the more successful I am.

I’ve stopped wondering who I can convince to buy my products. Now, I look for people who already want what I have. I spend just as much time thinking about who is not my customer as I spend thinking about who is my customer. To know both, and be okay with both, is vital.

If you need help identifying your target audience and clarifying your marketing, click here to schedule a call. I’d love to help you gain clarity and grow your business.

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