Avoiding the Default “Trying to Be Everything to Everybody” Messaging Strategy

Is your company’s messaging designed to engage your ideal prospects and customers? Or is it more broadly focused on your total addressable market—with generic value props, selling points, hooks, and benefits that you hope will appeal to every possible customer type equally?

Trying to serve “everybody” can make sense, but only within a very narrow set of situations, including:

  • When your startup is experimenting with different go-to-market strategies and customer profiles in order to discover the best fit.
  • When you need to hit aggressive raw user growth targets (and are willing to spend a fortune on advertising and brand awareness) in order to secure your next round of funding.
  • When you have the resources and scale to efficiently reach, engage, and serve a variety of customer types—including secondary and non-ideal customers—without pulling attention away from your most profitable customers.

Most companies don’t fit these descriptions. More likely, their reasons for trying to appeal to the broadest possible audience are:

  • They haven’t yet defined their ideal customer based on who will be the best fit, will contribute the majority of revenue and profits, and will have the longest retention and highest lifetime value.
  • They haven’t yet defined the secondary and non-ideal customers who won’t be a good fit for their business, and who will cost more to engage and retain.

In other words, their positioning and messaging has been set by default: try to be everything to everybody.

If your marketing and sales message isn’t landing with prospects, the solution isn’t to come up with a more clever tagline, write more blog posts, or increase your ad budget. That can all come later.

The first step will be to identify your ideal customers, and then pivot your positioning and messaging strategy so that it focuses on the value props and benefits they care about most.

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