I just finished re-reading Making Them Believe by Dan Kennedy and Chip Kessler.
Based on the advertising, marketing and promotions of Dr. John Brinkley, it dissects the 21 principles drawn from Dr. Brinkley’s advertising.
At one point in the book, Dan Kennedy discusses the Dr. Brinkley idea that impresses him the most. He says it’s impressive because it is very common to find entrepreneurs doing just the opposite.
In fact, since the beginning of Dan’s consulting business forty years ago, he’s witnessed business owners spending sizable sums of money and expending enormous effort on marketing while giving little or no regard to this principle. Which often causes struggle, frustration, and may exact great penalties on a business—even failure.
So what was John Brinkley so good at that earned Dan Kennedy’s admiration?
His laser focus on developing a clearly defined target audience and a clearly developed message.
Dan says business owners, “Either begin and grow without focus, or lose focus and drift away from what brought them to the dance over time.”
Dr. Brinkley on the other hand, from start to finish, maintained very clear focus.
When reviewing this I thought a great deal about the reasons behind why so many business owners are unfocused or drift from their original target.
One reason is that focusing on a small target seems contrarian. On the surface it would seem that if you had a larger audience to choose from, you would sell more.
But actually the opposite is true.
A focused target audience matters more than the size of that audience. In other words, you don’t need millions of customers to grow your business; you just need enough of the right ones.
Brinkley was very clear about who he was targeting and why they were his ideal customers.
In fact, he tossed aside enormous segments of the population such as women who, at the time, purchased 80% of medicines and medical treatments.
Instead he consistently focused on a single segment of the population which was age and gender specific, and within that, ailment/condition specific, and within that mind-set specific. And he never strayed away from that segment.
When you target everyone or even a broad segment of the population, you’ll find people simply aren’t going to respond. That’s because your one-size-fits all message can’t compete with the messages which speak specifically to them.
Another reason for lack of focus is that it is easy to be led astray.
A media sales person offers you a deal so you take it, despite the fact the target audience is a poor match for your business. Or you hear about a hot trend in media and think you must get onboard right away.
Once defined, stick to your target. (Tweet this!) Don’t let economics, media sales persons, hot trends, and other distractions steer you off target. If your target market isn’t looking at that media, it’s not right for you and can cost you far more than money.
Direct your marketing efforts to a very, specific, very focused target market—and avoid drifting away from that target—and you will waste less and profit more.
It’s not just an unfocused target audience that can lead to failure. Your message must be on point too—and you must continue to consistently convey that proposition.
Clarity of a specific proposition trumps general propositions. People aren’t listening to generalities. Get rid of vanilla messaging in favor of a specific, specialized message that is clearly focused on what your defined, specific target wants.
Brinkley built a single specialty and crafted a very single-minded, specific proposition that he stuck with throughout a lot of controversy, opposition, and criticism. He never strayed from his proposition, not once.
Dan Kennedy says, “This is something most business people cannot seem to do.” Many are swayed by the opinions of others or by criticism they hear.
He encourages you to not be swayed by critics and continues, “I have, for example, never once gone and read any of the criticism and gossip about me…I couldn’t be less interested in it because I am convinced the sources of it are not my good customers or candidates to be good customers.”
Expend your energy on those who will be good customers. When you continually focus on a single message, you will develop passionate audiences who will even help spread your message for you because of the nature of people who share through social media.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Never confuse motion with action.” While you may have a message you are actively spreading, ask yourself, is it targeted and focused on a single audience and message? In today’s world, a vanilla, one-size fits all message targeting a generalized audience will not be heard. Which means the motion you are taking may not always be worthwhile.
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