You know how to create a buyer persona and narrow your focus onto these ideal customers. But, even those who know their target buyer too often get caught in the trap of marketing to everyone. “We don’t want to exclude any potential customers or clients, or their revenue” is the reasoning. But in trying to appeal to everyone, they accidentally market to the wrong customer. And this is dangerous – and expensive.
The Wrong Customer is a Burden
There’s a reason that your best customers fit into one, two or three different molds, like cookies. Some are heart-shaped, some are star-shaped and some are plain old circles. But even the circles (bear with us) are good. Similarly, your two or three ideal customer personas are all very different from one another, but they’ve all been proven to be one thing: good. They make you money, they’re easy to work with and they have a need for what you offer.
The wrong customer, on the flip side, is like an avocado brownie (yes, that’s a real thing). It doesn’t fit any of the molds you’ve already decided work best for you, to the extent that it’s in a completely different category altogether. Plus, who wants avocado in their brownies? A customer like this is almost always a disappointment, frustration, and/or completely and totally maddening. They’re difficult to work with, and they complain so much and cause you to do so much extra work. And they inevitably erode your profit margins. You lose valuable time, money, and sanity because of them. And that’s not an exaggeration.
The Wrong Customer Steals Your Focus from the Right One
Another way to think about how you market to your customers is in the realm of dating. If you keep showing up where Mr. Wrong hangs out and hoping he’ll notice you, you’re wasting time. Worse, he will probably notice you (because you’re awesome), but then he’ll want to take you on a date. He’ll seem charming and funny and nice, and he’ll kind of make you forget he’s all wrong for you.
You’ll agree to go to his cousin’s best friend’s sister’s wedding in Kentucky with him. Before you know it, it’s game over. He’s playing mind games and conveniently forgetting his wallet every time you go out to eat. And every minute you spend with Mr. Wrong, you’re stealing from the time you could spend with Mr. Right. Smart, kind Mr. Right who will fit you like a glove and bring you great profit margins.
This might be a silly example but it’s about as exact of a parallel to marketing as you can get. If you’re spending your money trying not to miss anyone, you’re casting a ridiculously wide net. Maybe you’re wasting your budget, time and ideas advertising on LinkedIn, when all your ideal customers hang out all day on Instagram. Or you’re using 70 percent of your ad spend on Google Ads that are general (ineffective), which means the ads for your target buyer get only 30 percent (the scraps).
Negative Buyer Persona
Marketing is a zero-sum game. Unless you pay for your initiatives and staff with limitless Monopoly money, you don’t have the resources to appeal to everyone without reducing your odds of appealing to the right ones. So, get laser-focused. Only market to your two or three ideal personas, and nobody else.
Take the time to create negative buyer personas, too, so you actually know what Mr. Wrong looks like when he offers to buy you coffee. Then you can say, “No, thanks” or avoid the coffeeshop altogether. This will help you devote your time to the customers who are worth it.
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