“My audience?  Anybody with a pulse!”

Does the above sound familiar?

Most people in business think they’re thinking big with this.  Which is a big mistake.  When you think this way, you actually limit yourself, and keep your results small.

It’s against our inner entrepreneurial nature to want to limit ourselves.  And so our default answer when someone asks us who our product or service is for is to just say, “everybody.”

There are very, very few businesses that truly serve everybody.  And many of those didn’t start that way — the only got that way by dominating a very small niche first, then expanding, and expanding, and expanding, until most of the world became their customers.

Facebook is the obvious example.  Zuck built Facebook for Harvard students.  Then, Ivy League students.  Then college students.  Then students more generally.  Then, he threw open the doors to all.

I remember coming out of college at about the time Facebook was opening to the general public.  (That makes my graduation sound way more recent than it feels!)  I was pretty dismissive at first, because I wasn’t in college anymore, and it felt like a site for college kids.

But that’s exactly why Facebook got traction.  Its original users at Harvard probably would have sneered at a wide-open social networking site.  It was way more exciting to be part of something built for them.

It was only once that original market — and then all subsequent ones — was exhausted that it made sense to go wider.

No matter what business you’re in and no matter what market you serve, this is the way to do it.

You must first go narrow to go wide…

The problem, I think, starts with how most of us are exposed to advertising.  Most of the advertising we grew up with, and still most that we see today, is created for a mass market.  It’s created generically, to try to appeal to as broad of a swath of the public as the advertiser possibly can cover in one message.

This is because traditional media was all about reaching every household.

This works if you’re a mega corporation, and make most of your profit on the scale of your business.

But if you need to make more than pennies on the dollar to succeed in business, you’ll find success in focus.

The more you focus, the bigger your ROI…

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say you’re creating an ad or marketing campaign that’s all about getting low-risk and consistent income from your investing portfolio.

Now, you could write this generically, and try to put it in front of as many people as possible.  And depending on how good your ad is, you just might make some sales.

Or what if you discovered — based on a combination of research and early market testing — that your most eager responders and most satisfied users were:

— Professional women…

— Between the ages of 55 and 70…

— Who had not yet retired…

— Who had a household net worth of at least $500,000…

— Who were in one of six different professions…

…  And so on?

I made up those particular criteria — the important thing here is that there are criteria.  Even for a product that seems generic, you’ll find there are groups of buyers…

And what happens if you turn around and target this particular audience?

— You’re able to focus in very specifically on making sure your marketing appears in front of the people most likely to respond…

— AND you can target your messaging to THEM in a hyper-specific way.

Both of these lead to more revenue generated per marketing dollar spent.

It doesn’t stop there!

Once upon a time I interviewed Brian Kurtz (well before the Titans of Direct Response) on some of his biggest lessons learned mailing 1.3 billion pieces of mail for Boardroom, Inc.

One of the most fascinating things?  The media mattered.

That is, if a particular list had responded well to the magalog format in the past, that list would be worth testing for their new magalog control…  And here’s the important part…  Even if the topic was completely different!

That is, “magalog buyer” is a subset of the market.  Specific people respond to specific media better.  And if you add that to your targeting mix, you will do better.  (In some cases, it may even make sense to adapt your creative to match the buyer preference.)

And just in case you think this is tired old direct mail info…

I was just listening to an interview with a media buyer who was applying this same lesson in the online marketing landscape.

He compared the internet marketing gurus Frank Kern and Ryan Deiss.  Each have very different ways of selling.  Frank Kern uses casual webinars and sells at very high prices.  Ryan Deiss sells intro products for $7 and uses a lot of sales letters.

This media buyer was saying that he’d tested and gotten better results by running Kern-style marketing when targeting Kern fans, and Deiss-style marketing when targeting Deiss fans.

The ideal scenario…

For any given marketing campaign, you should be able to build out a buyer persona that’s hyper-specific and highly-detailed, BEFORE you create the marketing and start spending money.

I know this is ideal.  I know it doesn’t happen all the time.  Even among A-list clients.  But you will do better if you do this.

Get to know their demographics.  What are all the measurable things about them?  Age, income, location, etc., etc.

Get to know the behavior characteristics.  What websites do they visit?  What do they like on Facebook?  Where do they go?  What media have they responded to before?

Get to know their psychographics.  How do they think?  What do they believe?  What do they know to be true about the world?  What are their fears, frustrations, and failures?  What dreams, desires, and sense of destiny are they holding onto?

Line all that information up with your topic, niche, or category, and find the few who overlap.

You don’t want to narrow it down so small you don’t have a prospect pool.  But you want to get so narrow you can make a big impact.

If you have a few categories of prospects, each should be targeted separately.  (e.g. — A lot of weight loss marketers serve up very different messages to men and women, because men and women respond in very different ways.  But the best of the best also target based on age, occupation, region, other interests, etc.)

Do this right, and you get THIS ideal scenario…

If I’m your ideal prospect, and I have the problem you can solve, I should have one reaction when I first see your marketing…

“Finally, I found someone speaking to ME!”

Ultimately, we’re selling to one person.  And that person needs to believe that you’re speaking to them, about things they think and care about, if they’re going to engage and respond.

The better you target, the better you can do that.  And the better you can do that, the bigger breakthroughs you will create.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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