The art of narrowing your offer even if it hurts your soul

So let’s say you sell a thing that does a lot of things for a lot of different people.

That’s great, right?

More possible applications means more people to sell to.

More people to sell to means more sales.

More sales means more, um, money.

More money means (I’ll let you take it from here. Keep it legal.)

Unfortunately, it turns out this admittedly compelling logic chain has a really, really weak link.

Because ‘more people to sell to’ sometimes means more sales… but more often it doesn’t at all. It leads to fewer sales.

An example: your sister Sidney markets a software product that analyzes data and spits out smart recommendations.

It works on any data. Doesn’t matter.

So banks could use it. And hotels could use it. And retail chains could use it.

And, within any given bank, the marketing teams could use it. And the finance team. And the procurement vampires (sorrynotsorry).

Great, right?

So.

Many.

Sales.

Except not.

Because the marketing team in that bank won’t buy it.

And the finance team in that hotel won’t buy it either.

And neither will the procurement bastards in that retail chain (oh shut up, they were mean to me first).

In fact, they won’t even hear about Sidney’s wonderful analytics software.

Because they’re not looking for analytics software.

They’re looking for analytics software for people like them with problems like theirs.

So Sidney would actually get a lot more interest and sell a lot more if she aimed at a much smaller target.

It’s kind of counter-intuitive.

And a lot of marketers and salespeople and product marketers hate-hate-hate limiting what they call their ‘addressable universe’.

It physically hurts their souls.

“What, pretend that all we do is some puny little thing when we really do so many big, wonderful things? That’s stupid. Do the math. More is more than less. ”

And it hurts even more if some small competitor is winning business that you “ought to win” because you do so much more.

(Yeah, but they’re winning and you’re not.)

And it hurts even more if you’ve already sold to lots and lots of different kinds of people in different departments in different markets.

(Yeah, but selling is different from marketing. Once they’re in the room, your sales guys are brilliant. But how do you get them in the room?)

So Sidney is about to spend some money to produce an ebook and promote it. And she calls you up for advice (bless).

Here’s the right advice:

Do an ebook called something like, “How to turn your bank’s CRM data into powerful insights that will zotz all of your favorite metrics.”

Instead of something like, “How analytics generates insight from any data.”

Sidney: “But… But we analyze so much more than CRM data for banks! That’s crazy, bro or sis.”

You: “No it isn’t. If you work in a bank and you live and breathe CRM data every day—if you’ve got the letters C, R and M on your business card (in that order)—then the narrower title will be way more appealing than the broader title.

Exponentially more appealing.

Yes, it will be far more appealing to far fewer people.

But the point is to resonate.

And it’s better to resonate with a hundred people than to be ignored by a million.

No matter how flexible and adaptable your product is.

No matter how many use cases it works for.

No matter how many people it can help if they’d only listen.

They will only listen if your content feels like it’s made for them.

That it understands their specific challenges.

We know this from a fair amount of experience but we also tested it not long ago.

We produced three pieces for a client (starts with I). A generic ebook and two other ebooks with the same basic content—but one was spun to be all about Salesforce data and one was spun to be all about Marketo data.

And they both dramatically out-performed the generic version. (Especially when we targeted the promotion to people who used Salesforce and Marketo).

It’s not a new idea at all.

But it’s surprisingly rarely practiced.

Say less.

Resonate more.

Zero in on one specific set of users.

Call them out in the title of your content.

Talk about a single use case.

Forget, for a moment, that this is only one tiny sliver of all the things you could talk about.

And focus on what the people in one, specific, narrow, niche want to learn about.

Try it.

Report back.

We’ll wait.

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