Why ‘Everybody’ is Not Your Ideal Customer

by Deidre Rienzo on March 1, 2010

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I tried to drag Uncle Jim to see The Lion King on Broadway. He wasn’t interested. He threw his beer can at me and said he’d rather watch the game.

My brother hates sushi. He says he’d rather eat worms.

My mom loves to cook. My dad can’t even locate the kitchen.

My point? People have different tastes… different interests. And there’s no way you can appeal to all of them. I’ll clarify. You can’t appeal to everyone. Get it?

If you try to, here’s a quick story about what happens:


Setting: Touristy beach town. Restaurants: Hundreds. And every one of them served a plethora of cuisines: Italian, Mexican, Indian, Greek, steaks, burgers, Chinese and more. As you might guess, NONE of their culinary attempts was very good. (Believe me, I tried everything.) By trying to offer everything to everybody, these restaurants ended up serving bland, uninspired, confused food. And I started shopping and cooking for myself.

6 Reasons Why “Everybody” Is Not Your Ideal Customer

  1. When you try to satisfy “everybody,” you weaken your quality (e.g., the blandest paella I’ve ever had).
  2. “Everybody” is fickle. You can’t possibly begin to guess what “everybody” wants. But you can guess what your ideal customer wants. If you know who they are, you know what they read, watch and listen to. You know what they need – and you know what compels them to buy. You know what keeps them coming back.
  3. You can’t use specialized language with “everybody.”
  4. You have to be broad to impress “everybody.” But by being broad, you turn people off. People know impersonal when they see it. People want to feel catered to, understood.
  5. If you try to market to “everybody,” you could spend millions and get nowhere.
  6. Loyal customers are deeply attracted and deeply connected. To make meaningful connections, you need insight. You can’t have insight into “everybody.”

Here’s the deal… No matter how hard I try, I’m never going to get Uncle Jim to see The Lion King, my brother to eat sushi, or my dad to cook. These things simply are not going to happen. So marketing musical theatre, spicy tuna rolls or Tupperware to any of these people is simply a waste of time, energy and money.

Don’t waste your time, energy and money on trying to market to everybody. Everybody is not your audience.

Who is? Figure it out, and talk to them. Listen to them. Market to them.

If you need help pinpointing them, or speaking in their language, we can help. Contact us and start targeting your market.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Tara March 3, 2010 at 8:11 am

I am constantly having discussions with my peers on the importance of finding your ideal client and why it’s important — this validates so much of that for me. I’m still trying to narrow down who mine are, but I’m getting better! Knowing who you want as clients eliminates so much stress trying to figure it all out. Thanks for this great post.

Mistina Picciano March 4, 2010 at 7:01 am

Thanks for the feedback, Tara. (Great photo, by the way!) Identifying those ideal clients starts by knowing yourself and who you want to work with. You might try reading The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz. It’s a fun book that guides you through the process of marrying your business to your passion. A nice complement to Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It, another fabulous read if you haven’t done so already. Thanks for checking out our blog and taking the time to comment.

Tara March 4, 2010 at 8:48 am

awesome – I’ll look for those books today!

Wes Powell May 5, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Thanks for the good article.

One of the dangers of trying to appeal to everyone is that you just might be successful at it; all of a sudden, you’re loaded down with the types of clients that you DON’T want, and unable to properly serve the types of clients you DO want. A losing proposition, for sure. So, focus, focus, focus.

Mistina Picciano May 7, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Excellent, excellent point, Wes.

Are you familiar with Mike Michalowicz, the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (and author of the book by the same name)? He makes the case that having no customers is actually a better position than having the wrong customers. As you point out, the wrong customers can prevent you from working with the right ones.

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