This article originally appeared in my newsletter, the Only Teethin’ Monday Mail. If you’d like early access to similar articles plus recommendations for useful resources to help you find success on your own terms, make sure you sign up! (You can find a sign-up form on the homepage, and at the bottom of this page too.) Thank you!
I’ve been getting right into the marketer Seth Godin recently.
I’ve not yet managed to find the time to read one of his books, so I’ll hold off on getting a t-shirt printed with his face on it, for now.
But I’ve listened to him on a couple of podcasts recently, during my night-time sexy time podcast listening sessions (that’s a joke btw – I mentioned last week how I like to listen to podcasts in bed…which must be really appealing to my other half).
Anyway, forget my other half. (I have.) This is about me ‘n’ Seth. I think it’s love.
The thing that caught my ear the first time I heard Seth was when he spoke about ‘the minimal viable audience’.
He means getting really clear on the size – and make-up – of the audience you really need to make your business / side-hustle / project / thing profitable and/or ‘successful’, and only concentrating on that. On those audience members. No-one else. Nothing else.
I think this is one of Seth’s big theories that runs through a lot of his work, and when he first came out with it everyone gasped in horror. Probably.
Because it goes against the grain of the ‘more more more’ mindset of mass marketing, of trying to appeal to all and sundry.
Seth argues that ‘mass’ means ‘average’. And no-one wants average.
“Try and please everyone and you’ll end up pleasing no-one.” We’ve all heard that saying before, and this is essentially the same thing.
Like all brilliant concepts, it’s so bloomin’ obvious, and yet when you start out with a new venture, I think it’s so easy to forget.
It’s natural to want everyone to like us and to like what we do, to give us their seal of approval. But we don’t need EVERYONE to like us.
I don’t know about you but I find that really freeing.
And actually, it applies to life in general, not just to biz stuff.
I saw this quote from author Matt Haig on social media the other day:
“Aim to be you. Aim to look and act and think like you. Embrace that you-ness. Endorse it. Love it. And don’t give a f*ck when people mock it or ridicule it.”
The thing to remember, as Seth would put it (haven’t forgotten about him already, don’t worry), is that people who DO mock or ridicule or just don’t get what you do, is that they’re not your people.
So forget them.
Go find people who are.
When applied to business, this means getting really clear on who ‘your people’ – your clients, your customers – are. And creating / serving / doing whatever it is you do, with them and only them in mind.
And not fretting over whether your auntie is going to like it, or if that girl you went to school with whose mum was friends with your mum is going to like it.
If they’re not your people (the intended audience for you/your biz/your thing), then sod ‘em.
As Seth G points out, this is how the best and biggest brands in the world operate, and how they got to be the best brands in the world. Airbnb for example, didn’t set out to be the world’s biggest accommodation business; they targeted a certain type of person, did their thing, their chosen audience lapped it up and told their friends, who told more people and word spread and the world went bananas for Airbnb.
It’s natural to want ‘mass’ appeal, and to chase numbers, when everyone’s so fixated on those numbers – how much you earn, how many holidays you go on, how many Instagram followers you’ve got.
But what about individuality, and your brilliant ‘you-ness’ and not seeking approval from your auntie and that girl from school?
As an obnoxious youth, I took pride in liking things that many other people did not. Music and clothes especially, like the teenage cliché that I was. And then I’d go off those things when they became popular, because I was COOL, obviously.
A short tale from the dark ages: I remember playing Definitely Maybe by Oasis on CASSETTE – google it – in the kitchen on my mum and dad’s crappy CASSETTE PLAYER after school one day, when the album had first come out, when I was getting tea ready before my parents got in.
(I’m laughing now at how that last part negates any teen rebel credentials I might have had – ‘while I was helping to make the tea…’)
ANYWAY. My dad came in and went ‘what is this racket you are playing?’ or words to that effect, and I rejoiced, in the way of teens the world over. And then the following year every meathead and his rottweiler got a tattoo of Liam Gallagher’s face, and my dad – and everyone’s dad – knew the words to Wonderwall and here lies the end of the tale from the dark ages.
This might not be a very good example, actually…because I think Noel Gallagher always says that Oasis set out to be the biggest band in the world… but, in the beginning, they would have been very clear about where, and to whom, they marketed their music.
Indie music fans; people who listened to non-mainstream radio stations; people who went to watch small bands play to small audiences in small dive bars. Probably not meatheads and dads, in the beginning.
Anyway. I have digressed, for a change.
But the point is: listen to Seth. And to Matt. Think about who you want as your people. And sod the rest.
Then do everything you can to create amazing things and do amazing things for your people, show off your brilliant ‘you-ness’, and you might just find that more people come anyway.