“A choice to serve everyone, everywhere—or to simply serve all comers—is a losing choice.” – A. G. Lafley & Roger  L. Martin

1997 is arguably one the greatest years of Rock n Roll history.  Radiohead released OK Computer predicting a future techno-centric world we arguably now find ourselves in; while there were blindingly fantastic songs such as The Verve ’s ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’, Foo Fighters ‘My Hero’, and Blur’s ‘Song 2’ amongst Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’.

Along with this alumni, Everclear released their hit single, ‘Everything to Everyone’ – which in 2018 and our era of Cambridge Analytica, and Micro or Mass Marketing, holds a pertinent message we can use for marketing, and in particular those brands that do as they sang – and ‘try to be everything to everyone’.

Last week I had a moment of serendipity.  After studying the theories and practices of audience segmentation, most notably around the schools of thought on ways to slice and dice markets, I met with the Chief Marketing Officer of a large sporting brand, and were chatting about their upcoming event.  There’s a lot of challenges that said brand faces in a crowded market, especially when Sydney-siders can be so fickle around sport, always jumping on bandwagons when they appear, and then just as quickly jumping off when things go sour.

With this in mind, I pressed the CMO on who their audience is, and what segments of the market they were looking to attract – to be met with ‘we’re targeting everyone’.

Now, brands clearly can’t target everyone – and brands don’t exist for everyone.  Unless of course you’re someone like Amazon – and even then an argument can be made against that notion.

There are 3 alarming issues for a brand that wants to ‘target everyone’ and doesn’t have a clear idea of market segmentation or who their target audience is.

1. Weak Messaging

If you’re trying to please everyone, you won’t have anything constructive, unique or relevant to convince people as to why your product or service is better than your competitors, and they should part with their hard earned cash for your product or service.

People are different.  We’re not the same, we have unique attitudes, behaviours and motivators.

If you aren’t talking to any of these particular characteristics or motivators, you’re going to find yourself down the list of people’s priorities when they think of your brand.

By trying to be everything to everyone, your message will end up being so weak and vanilla that customers at best won’t notice notice you, or at worst will seek out more specific and relevant brands for their needs.

2. Lack of Brand Promise & Strategy

Due to your messages being so vague and weak, your Brand Promise and ultimately the sense of your Brand itself is inevitably watered down in order to make it as appealing and broad as possible.

In turn, this affects what customers take away from your brand – which is confusion because you’re using fluffy terms, and buzz language that doesn’t meet an actual need that consumers have.

3. Wasted Budget

More often than not, as a business, you’re trying to maximise your profit, by ensuring that the cost it takes to acquire a customer, is less than the cost it takes to reach a customer. 

There is not a media channel in the world that will allow you to give a relevant message to a general audience.

You need to choose the right media, to get in front of the right person – at hopefully the right time.

Don’t waste your budget by going general – go specific, and look for the audiences that you can target with efficient media and use your budget efficiently.

The Solution

If you’re currently trying to target everyone, here’s 2 x things that you need to do immediately:

1. Audience Research

Get out there and understand your customers.  Whether you want to do focus groups, or online survey’s – the benefits of this are immeasurable and set you up for success.

I once had a client, who thought their existing customer didn’t purchase their clothing inventory more often was because their range wasn’t extensive enough.  After doing some research, we found out that the main reason they would purchase more often, was because they didn’t offer Free Shipping.

Turns out the client did offer Free Shipping, they just weren’t communicating it to their customers!

 2. Segment your Audience

Once you’ve done your research you can segment the market to find out which audiences are worth chasing. 

You’ll be in a position to understand the market as a whole, and it will be as if you’ve gained sight after being blind for your lifetime.

By trying to be everything to everyone, your brand and your marketing will be less for it.  Find your target markets, understand your segments, and you’ll avoid the spinning around, falling down, stumbling and falling that Everclear foreshadowed. 

BTW – Check out the class of ’97 – it’s a collection of the finest rock songs you’ll ever hear: https://www.spin.com/featured/best-alternative-rock-songs-1997