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You can’t please everyone all the time

Biz 101, Communication, Strategy

We’re all familiar with the John Lydgate quote “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” 

So why are so many businesses still trying to please everyone? I think it’s a simple answer. They’re afraid of losing money. 

Back in the day, we used to quote on everything we could get our nails into. We’d quote low so often, afraid that we’d lose the project to another agency. When we did get the jobs, we’d scramble to keep costs as low as possible because we had to effectively lower our hourly rate to compete. When we didn’t get the job, it was kind of a relief, because we could focus on the jobs that paid.

But then we’d do it again. 

There was a time when we didn’t know who we were, or who our ideal clients were. We thought, like many businesses do, that anyone with money is a client.  Sure, we want those clients, but we also needed to hone in on our segment of the market or we would be left thinking…

Everyone that drinks coffee is a customer for my cafe. 

(Not unless you sell every coffee available on the market.)

Everyone that wears clothes is a customer for my store. 

(Not unless you have every brand available and offer every pricepoint.)

Everyone that drives a car is a customer for my gas station.

(Not unless you have every loyalty card and points option out there.)

You get the point. With this mentality, “knock it out of the park” projects would be few and far between.

The right things for the right people

It isn’t realistic to expect that your business can serve every potential customer out there…not well anyway.  Find your lane and focus on it. Embrace the concept of specialization and the idea of a market that’s an inch wide and a mile deep.

This is especially true in product offering segments.  One ag part or retail product would need countless modified versions to meet each brand of combine, each product stored, not to mention retail sectors that are subject to scent or personal preference.  This takes focus, and it takes digital and physical assets that align with that focus. 

Our clients all believe along with us that a one-hit-wonder isn’t realistic. Great design requires experimentation and iteration. Results-oriented marketing requires tracking and testing. With results-based marketing, the data should tell us if we’re on the right track or if we need to shift (split testing is a great way to keep a campaign running and test one option against another). 

We have since found our lane and our ideal clients.  A focus on manufactures and a change in our business model has resulted in greater success for our clients.  

What do you need to focus on?  What areas of your market do you need to put more time and effort into, and which do you need to step away from?

Want help deciding?  Let’s go for a coffee and walk this out together.