The adage ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’ is reassuring and certainly true. We all have different perspectives, beliefs and experiences that shape our perceptions of the world, so we’re bound to have differing views.
We’re all constantly adapting to the complex variety of situations we find ourselves in. Our ‘work’ selves, home ‘selves’, ‘out on the town’ selves. We’re all ‘marketing’ to some degree, influencing the perception of those around us. ‘Positioning’ ourselves if you like.
Naturally, in positioning our products or services we need to have the same sensitivities. We need to understand who we are talking to, in what context, and how we can help. We cannot please everyone, if we tried to our message would be so bland and diluted as to become meaningless. So who should we try to engage? Let’s introduce the idea of the smallest viable audience.
Smallest viable audience
Your product or service may be perfectly suitable for a very broad range of audiences, but the question is, who is a perfect fit? The Holy Grail for marketing is not to ‘please’ but to ‘delight’ your target audience… to be the product or service that fits perfectly with your target audience’s perceptions and requirements and communicate this specifically to them.
In this way, you can create true advocates for your business. By honestly communicating the same ‘world view’ as your target audience, helping to solve their problems and desires, they will love what you do and recommend you when they can. But you can only do this by truly understanding who your target audience is and narrowing your focus to be on just them… even if you alienate everyone else…
I could give you examples of successful high-profile product positioning, but these examples will not be especially relatable if you’re a smaller business. So instead I’m going to share an example closer to home, our own recent repositioning, which I hope stimulates some thoughts about your own business.
I have to confess that at Resolution we have had a positioning dilemma for a few years. In common with many smaller firms, we have a moderately broad range of services and we also work with many different types of business. Whilst this approach has served us very well, it has created a problem… we can be perceived as generalists.
For example… if we’re pitching for a website for an accountants let’s say, we can certainly do a great job and we have several lovely website examples in that sector. But if we happen to be up against an agency that positions themselves as the ‘Specialist marketing agency for accountants’, you can see the problem. Whatever the reality, the perception is that their specific knowledge will translate to a better result for the client. They have narrowed their market and with a sector-specific focus, they have gained marketing power.
Transitioning your business to become a sector specialist is a daunting prospect. Which sector to choose? How long will it take to become recognised? Another option is to become a service or product specialist, focus solely on your one key service/ product. Or potentially both service and sector specialisation… ‘Specialist website design for accountants’ for example.
To help solve our positioning dilemma, we looked through the many projects we’ve been involved in over the years and discovered something interesting. We mainly work with startups and SMEs looking to rebrand and reposition themselves. Then a realisation, we love working with startups and scaleups, more than that we really believe in the benefits that small businesses deliver to our local economies and local communities. It’s something we are truly proud to be part of.
This realisation is a great help. We now know more specifically who we want to talk to, we will narrow our focus and become specialists in helping startups and scale-up businesses. Having this understanding of our target audience is very powerful in shaping our marketing communications. It’s likely we’ll continue fine-tuning our positioning as we transition to discover our smallest viable audience, but for now, this is a great start.
To help you understand who your own positioning here’s a simple template, a three-sentence marketing promise you can use, from Seth Godin’s book ‘This is Marketing’:
My product/ service is for people who believe in ___________________
I will focus on people who want to ___________________
I promise that engaging with what I make/ do will help you get __________________
For Resolution our marketing promise is this…
Our service is for people who believe in the power of a good brand.
We will focus on people who want to launch a startup business or scale up an existing SME business.
We promise that engaging with what we do will help you get more customer engagement and more sales.
If you’d like to talk about positioning or repositioning your business we’d love to chat, please get in touch.